When adversity calls

Life isn't straightforward.

We'll all have good and tough times. We'll all be served up some sort of stress or ''challenge'' at some stage.

So what do you do when it all goes pear shaped?I take the R&R approach: react and respond.

It's designed to help you express whatever it is you need to in a safe way and then move forward.

Let's have a look at how it works.

REACT
If something unpleasant turns up it can trigger strong emotions.

Rather than suppress or ignore them, it's healthier to react, safely, and get them out of your system.

Common reactions are fear and/or anger.

Some suggestions to help deal with these are:
 •Exercise, walk, run, bike whatever works for you
 •Listen to music
 •Stand in your backyard (or maybe in a field, park etc) and scream into the ''cosmic dumpster'' (as an American colleague of mine calls it)
 •Write your feelings and thoughts down then destroy the paper.
 •Cry
 •Offload with a trusted friend.
 •Pray or meditate

Try to withhold blaming or having a ''go'' at someone.

Possibly you're not seeing things clearly yet. It's important to acknowledge what you feel, work through it and keep moving through the ''react'' phase.

Getting stuck here leads to emotional paralysis and increases the fear.

RESPOND
Firstly, be honest with yourself about the situation.

Ask yourself ''is there anything I can do in this situation?''.

If the answer is no, then do nothing.

That's not a smart answer, it's plain common sense.

If a situation is beyond your control then trying to do something or worrying over it creates more stress.

If the answer is ''yes, I can do something'', then make a list of options with pros and cons for each of the options.

Write in as much detail as you can. Does any option ''feel'' better than any other?

You may not ''like'' any, it may be that one just feels less awful than the others.

Does one option make more ''sense'' than another?

If you're stuck, seek help.

Asking for help can be hard, but it's not a sign of weakness!

Do you need professional help?

Identify who could help you: coach, doctor, financial adviser, community law office, etc, and then contact them.

The point of checking your options is to take action.

When you're stuck, do something, take some control back.

Doing nothing is also a decision, but one that means you have no control over the outcome and one that adds to the feelings of fear and powerlessness.

If you've been in this situation before and the action or inaction you took didn't result in a useful outcome then you'll have to do something different.

If you've been in a similar position before, ask yourself why you're there again.

Is there a pattern?

Is there a root cause that needs to be dealt with once and for all?

If so, do something about it now; get a coach, a counsellor or another professional that can help you work it out.

If you don't, chances are you'll be here again asking yourself ''why does this always happen to me?''.

Top tips for tackling pear-shaped situations are:
 •Deal with the feelings it brings up.
 •Be honest with yourself about it.
 •Check your options in detail, then, if appropriate, take control and do something.
 •Enlist help if you need to.
 •Ask yourself why you've found yourself in this situation.

Is it a pattern?

If it is then do something to sort the root cause permanently.

If not, identify what you can do to avoid it in the future, be prepared.

None of us like being on the receiving end of a curve ball.

However, we can handle them in ways that minimise the pain and hurt for ourselves and those around us.

If life sends you pears, cook 'em!

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach. For more, visit www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.

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