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How to cope when life doesn't go according to plan

Older woman with cup of tea

Sometimes life doesn't go as we have planned - something which 2020 has taught us rather clearly. But how do you cope when this happens? How do you deal with the frustration and demoralising nature of the painful times that occur throughout life? In this article, we highlight some of the things you can do to help you deal with whatever life throws your way. With a little change in thinking and taking the time to see the bigger picture, you will be surprised at how your state of mind and outlook can improve.

Look for the opportunities presented

When things go awry, it can be easy to get bogged down in the negative, in how bad everything is. However, this will only make matters worse. Thinking about how disappointing the situation is will only enhance an already sour situation. It’s far better to take the opposite approach and instead always try to see the opportunities that have been presented to you.

In nearly every negative situation, there will be some good that you can make of it. Perhaps your furlough from work will give you time to think about what you really want to do in life, perhaps seeing some of the suffering around you will inspire you to think more selflessly and help others, or maybe a recent injury means you can spend more time at home with the kids. You might have to look harder for these opportunities at certain times but by finding them, you can put a positive spin on a situation that would otherwise keep you in a spiral of misery.

Remember what you have to be thankful for

Older couple on bench

No matter how bad things get, no matter how life gets in the way of your plans, its important to always remember that someone has it worse than you do. You might be down on your luck, you might have something really negative take place, but most of the time, it could be worse. Angel, from the lifestyle blog, Marc and Angel Hack Life, shares this pearl of wisdom: “Don’t let your expectations of how life ‘should be’ blind you to the beauty of the life you’re living.”

So instead of wallowing in the negativity of the situation, take a breath and think about what you have to be thankful for. It could be anything, big or small, such as your health, your freedom, having a loving family that lives close by, plenty of food in the kitchen, or simply having opportunities to stay in touch with friends. Whether you are a grandparent or young adult, a stairlift user or a busy professional, we all have something we can be thankful for and this is what we should concentrate on to get us through the tough times.

Rely on the love and support of others

When things don’t go our way, it’s vital that we don’t try to go it alone, especially if we don’t have to. If you are fortunate enough to have family and friends, go to them and let them know you are struggling. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and they will be pleased to be there for you. Jewels from the blog One Frugal Girl, told us that speaking to others was her top tip for coping in these situations:

“Find someone to talk to about your struggles. It can be a friend, family member, co-worker, or therapist. Just find someone who can help you see the bright spots in your life. When our lives go off track, it's easy to face the negative aspects of our lives and block out any of the good stuff. I turn to others during these times, because they can often point out the 'good' aspects of my life that I fail to see.”

Sue, from the blog Women Living Well After 50, has shared that spending time with loved ones, even remotely, has been a big help to her last year: “I’ve been surrounded by love and support from my children and friends. I have a weekly chat with a small group of friends who are scattered across Australia and the world and this has helped me tremendously.” By relying on the love and support of others, you can not only get helpful advice and a fresh perspective on the situation but simply a kind ear and friendly face to lift your spirits. There are also plenty of support groups online and in-person, made up of people in your situation, that can perform a similar function, meaning that going it alone is never necessary.

Find an escape

Man reading book

It can be very helpful during difficult times to have some form of escape from the world around you. Instead of constantly thinking about the situation, try to find ways that you can unwind and forget about things for a little while each day. Books are the choice of many, allowing the reader to escape to another world or different time with a colourful cast of characters. If you get absorbed in a good story, your mind will be focused on something far removed from your current predicament. TV and film can perform a similar function. Just find something comforting that you can truly get lost in. Perhaps your escape could be a hobby like knitting, meditation, crafting, or puzzles. Whatever it is, finding a way to escape from the world for a little while each day will make a big difference.

Focus on things you can control

Often, the things that trouble us or frustrate us the most are those which are out of our control. Kate, from the life inspiration blog Everyday Power shares: “Whether you believe in luck or not, misfortune happens all the time – often, even to good people. We can’t change that. It’s the world we live in.” If what has got you down is something that is simply out of your hands, something that you can do nothing about, well, there is little point spending great time and energy worrying about it.

Bonita, a hypnotherapist and transformational coach from Hypnotherapy Associates, shared with us that recognising that we can't control the future is key, suggesting that people don’t lose their bearings: "What is meant by this is that often, we have a timetable we want certain events to happen by in life and can feel frustrated when this doesn’t happen. We can’t control the future so always think of a future timetable as a rough guide only to planning. When we plan the future in our minds it is not reality in the moment, it is just in thoughts, therefore, we need to be relaxed and hopeful but aware we are not in control.

"A good example is the current situation with the pandemic, many people’s plans have been scuppered due to the COVID 19 outbreak which has been out of our control, but what is in our control, is how we think about it. Like seeing the glass half full or half empty, the amount of liquid is the same but because we live in the ‘feeling’ of our thinking, an optimistic mindset can allow you to live with more peace and grace in the face of unplanned events or adversity. Seeing life as a continuum rather than a series of events is helpful, to see ‘the bigger picture’. There are still good times ahead in each of our lifetimes, even if that may seem distant right now."

While situations like these can make you feel a little helpless, why not try to focus instead on the things in life that you can control? There are plenty of them. Look around your home, think about your life, and decide on ways that you can make things better. It might be sorting out an issue with your house that you have been forever putting off, it might be getting yourself more organised, it might be coordinating a community project to help those in your area. Start off small, get your house in order, put your energy into things that you can actually control. You will be surprised by what a difference it can make and the positive ripple effect it can have on different areas of your life.

Tips for coping when life doesn’t go as planned

  • Look for the opportunities presented
  • Remember what you have to be thankful for
  • Rely on the love and support of others
  • Find an escape
  • Focus on things you can control

We hope the above tips and advice have been helpful. Life is a challenge and sometimes things happen that we didn’t expect but that doesn’t mean we have to let life beat us down. There’s always a reason to hope, there is positivity and opportunity wherever you look and no matter what you are going through, you don’t have to do it alone. Here’s to brighter days ahead.

For more tips and advice, make sure to visit our news page.


This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.