No matter how much you prepare, or how much of a positive thinker you are, eventually something is going to happen in your life that you are not very happy about it. However, whether it is something really big, or just a minor inconvenience, you can apply the same effective formula for getting through it and moving on with your life.
1. Recognize Why the Change Happened
For better or for worse, whatever it is that has changed in your life, it happened for a reason. Maybe it was something that you did or didn’t do, or maybe it was something that someone else did or didn’t do. In either case, there was some purpose behind the change that you now need to discover.
Please don’t confuse “purpose” with “reason”. To use an extreme example, let’s say that someone you care about dies in a car accident. As sad as that is, the reason behind that person’s death was the car accident itself, but knowing that will not help you to move past the incident.
However, by discovering what purpose was served by their death, then you can turn the situation around in order to at least start walking towards the future, rather than dwelling on the past.
To use my own example, my Mom died of brain cancer when I was barely 21 years old. Her and I were very close and I was totally devastated. However, even though her life was anything but pleasant towards the end, she was still up before the dawn and the last person to go to sleep every night, because she saw the value in her time here on earth.
That was 16 years ago, and I am still almost always the first one out of bed in our house, and the last one to go to sleep at night.
2. Keep your Emotions in Check
If something happens that upsets you, it can be very difficult to reign in your emotions. You are sad, or mad, or infuriated, or frustrated, etc., and the last that you want to do right now is practice emotional mastery!
In fact, recognizing your emotions for what they are is part of the process of getting through that tough spot in your life. If you’re sad, then why are you sad? Why are you mad? Why are you frustrated?
As I said in the post ‘How to Eliminate Fear from Your Life‘, when people are afraid of a certain outcome, it drives their behavior. So if you are mad, sad, or frustrated by a negative change in your life, take emotional control by realizing what it is that is making you feel that way.
- Are you afraid that you won’t be able to live without a person who isn’t in your life anymore?
- Are you afraid that you will not be able function and be happy in a situation where your anger is constantly a part of your day?
- Are you afraid that your level of frustration is going to cause you to lose control?
Whatever your emotional reactions are to a negative change in your life, they will always be fueled by your need to have or to not have something in your life. By recognizing that need – even if it is painful – it will put you on the path to brighter days.
3. Be Grateful
This one can be hard for some people, especially if the negative change was really big. However, it is always – and I mean always – possible to be grateful for the changes in our lives, even the changes that we perceive to be negative.
Why should you be grateful? Because now you have contrast. You are now clearly able to see the difference between what you want and what you don’t want, so you can now apply all of your amazing abilities as a human being to get what you do want from now on.
If a relationship ends, or someone is taken from you, then you have the opportunity to understand – sometimes at a very high cost – what grief, despair, or loneliness feels like. Even thought it hurts, from now on you will appreciate all of the moments in your life when you don’t feel that way a lot more than you would have appreciated them before.
Sure, it’s a hard lesson to learn, but it is a lesson, and by being grateful for that lesson, you will appreciate – and enjoy – your life more as a result. Maybe not at first, but eventually you will.
4. Look to the Future
What’s next? Whether the negative change in your life is something simple, or if it is something major, you can always make the future a brighter place by planning how to move forward.
As human beings, we have an innate need for a sense of “direction,” or a belief that we are walking down a certain path. Even people who claim that they just want to “get through life and have fun” still have a path, even if that path is to do just that.
Whenever a negative change happens in your life, your path will have been permanently altered. However, as the sole conductor on the train of your life, you can still decide which direction your life will take now that the change has taken place.
At first it can be very difficult to focus on the future, and that is okay. In fact, depending on the severity of the change that has happened in your life, you may even feel like you don’t care about the future! That is fine as well. Allow yourself time to “heal” or to calm down after something negative has happened.
However, eventually, you will remember who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to get out of life. That strength will either move you towards the future one baby step at a time, or it may propel you forward like a rocket once you have come to terms with the negative change.
In either case, you are – and always have been – in the driver’s seat. Even after a negative change in your life, it is still possible to choose a new destination that is to your liking.