4 tips for dealing with unexpected and challenging situations

Many people spend their lives planning ahead or dreaming of all the things they want to do and where their life is going to end up. And many people are simply content with the way things are and live their day-to-day lives with a smile on their face. Until, one day, something unexpected happens and they find themselves in a challenging situation that they have no idea how to face.

A good example of this is being retrenched from a job that you both enjoy and rely on. From the moment you first become aware that it’s a possibility to the moment you receive your retrenchment letter, it feels like your world is falling apart. You’ve gone from living a life that you felt was reliable and safe to being thrust into a difficult situation that you did not expect. And now you have to deal with that situation.

There are many times in life when you will find yourself stuck in unexpected situations, so it is important that you learn how to deal with them. These four tips will guide you through your experience and hopefully make what you’re going through a little easier on you.

Acknowledge the situation

First things first, do not panic. Give yourself a moment to take it all in, whether it’s a moment, a day or a week. Think about how much time you have before you need to act and give yourself that time to process what has happened or what is about to happen. Do not go into denial and pretend everything is as it was because that will only result in you not being prepared when the time comes for you to take action. Instead, clear your head for a reasonable amount of time so that you are able to think calmly and accept what life has handed you. Make peace with the situation and come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to handle it in the correct manner.   

Analyse the situation

Jumping straight into action once you’ve acknowledged the situation you’re in isn’t a good idea either. You might end up thinking irrationally and acting on emotion rather than logic. Sit and think about what possible consequences and outcomes may accompany the situation. For example, if you’ve been retrenched, you will be without a job and will need to look for suitable employment or make use of your emergency fund if you have one. Or if the breadwinner of your family has passed away, you will need to find an alternative source of income in order to cover the extra expenses.

Try not to dwell on one aspect of the situation and think of all the different factors involved in this specific situation. It’s a good idea to put everything down on paper or create a list on your computer. This list can be random at first, just put down everything that comes into your head. Afterwards, you can go through all the information you’ve written out and organise it, decide what is important and what is not, and create a clearer analysis.  

Consider all your options

Now that you have accepted the situation and analysed what it means for you and possibly those around you, you can start to consider how you’re going to proceed. Once again, creating a list is a good idea. Write down every option you have, no matter how silly it may seem at the time, and then narrow the list down as you move on to a second and third (and maybe even a fourth) draft.

Don’t only consider the easy options as these might not have the best results. Often the difficult and time-consuming options are the ones that have the best results. For example, if you feel you were unfairly dismissed from your job, seeking legal help might appear at first as though it is a difficult route to take, but a positive outcome due to legal representation could lead to far better results than going through all your savings while trying to find another job in a country with mass unemployment.   

Choose the best way forward and trust that you will get through it

After you’ve assessed all your options and perhaps asked friends, family members and professionals for advice, it’s time to make a decision as to how you are going to move forward. The actions you have to take and the struggle you might have to go through could be daunting and the situation as a whole may seem insurmountable, but you need to believe that you will get through this. This situation, just like many other challenging situations you’ll find yourself in throughout life, will pass and you will survive. It’s important that you remember that and maintain a positive outlook. It’s far easier to make it through hard times with a good attitude than a cynical view.