Sometimes in life, we don’t choose to sign up for certain events. Like being fired or losing a loved one; difficult situations can be thrust upon us seemingly out of nowhere.

As an executive coach, I often have the privilege of sharing bonds with clients that extend beyond business, for which I am most grateful. Not that long ago, I experienced the sudden and unexpected loss of an amazing client after 12 wonderful years. I cherished the relationship, and although I still feel a sense of loss, I realize how fortunate I am for the special connection we had shared.

I am sure that you have experienced events beyond your control that led to unwanted change. Speaking from a position of real understanding, I can say with confidence that it is what you do when confronted with difficult times that will determine where you end up.

Here are three things you can do to overcome an unexpected change in circumstances and rise above to become your best self.

Expect But Don’t Fear Difficulties

Change is inevitable. Some of the most successful people in the world have experienced misfortune, so why should we as individuals be immune to the possibility of encountering difficult times?

Steve Jobs is one such individual that immediately comes to mind.

After building Apple into a phenomenally successful company, Jobs was forced to resign in 1985.

“I was out — and very publicly out,” he recalled in a commencement speech at Stanford University. “What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.” He added, “I was a very public failure.”

While initially taken aback, Jobs had a plan that ultimately returned him to the top position at Apple in 1996. Once back, he developed the iPod and iPad, which made Apple one of the “most successful Fortune 500 companies of the past decade.”

Recognizing that a sudden and unexpected loss like this can and likely will happen at some point, provides you with an opportunity to prepare. As part of your preparation, I am not talking about living an angst-filled life of worry and fear. What I am speaking about is having a plan in place so that during a period of emotional upset, your response is not one of bewilderment, but measured action.

Think along the lines of fire escape routes mapped out in your building. You don’t sit at your desk worrying about a fire happening, but when it does, you will know the right path to take to get you to safety. Having a backup plan will give you the comfort to live in the present but prepare for the future.

Don’t Let Others Minimize Your Situation 

When talking about the difficulties you are facing have you ever heard the words “Grin and bear it,” or “I have been through worse situations?”

Responses like these can make you feel diminished or frustrated. They can make you believe that you are either overreacting or are not up to the challenge. Don’t fall into this trap, as it will force you into a non-active state of self-condemnation.

Comparing yourself or your situation to someone else, whether in their successes or challenges, accomplishes nothing. It is not a competition. Going through a difficult time is very personal and unique to you, so don’t minimize it. Give yourself both that courtesy and respect.

Instead of comparisons, seek trusted mentors that care about your well-being and can add meaningful insight based on their experiences and setbacks. Their sage advice will help you to realize that the difficulties others encounter are proof that you are not alone, and that you can learn from what they have done to rise above negative circumstances.

See Your Setback As A Temporary Stop In The “Waiting Room”

In talking with clients who are going through a difficult time, I have often used the term “gifted” with an opportunity to learn from their challenging situation.

Gifted?!? How can you view a tough situation as being a gift?

When my brothers and I faced a difficult challenge, my mother had a unique perspective. She would explain that we were just temporarily in the “waiting room.” Once we got out, she assured us that we would be “gifted” with greater wisdom and strength.

To possess this vision beyond the immediate horizon, you just have to imagine that there is something good waiting for you on the other side of a challenge. If you believe that you will come out on top, and persevere with confidence, you will have reason to celebrate that you are a survivor for having lived through the experience. After all, the waiting room is just a temporary stop.

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