Have you faced times in your life when you hit a roadblock? It’s as though a boulder dropped out of the sky and landed in your path. Without warning life hiccoughed and stalled. How do you handle those situations? What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
At my recent 40th college class reunion I noticed something. Many of my classmates are dealing with perplexing circumstances beyond their control. Here’s a few examples:
- Unexpected health challenges.
- Loss of employment.
- A child going through a divorce.
- A growing disappointment with life.
In each situation there’s a growing uncertainty. The problems are complex and beyond their control. Anxiety sets in. Confusion and frustration reign. There’s no joy in life.
Have you ever felt like this? As we age, the vast majority of us know what it feels like to hit a roadblock and have life spin out of control.
Here’s the big question: do you know what to do when you don’t know what to do?
It’s a frustrating time of life. The prevailing wisdom is to “tie a knot and hang on.”
In rare instances that might be good advice.But too often that approach results in making you feel like a victim. Having a victim mentality will only make things worse. It’s far better to be proactive instead of sitting around crying, “The sky is falling.”
Here’s a couple of thoughts:
When you don’t know what to do, remember that the feeling of helplessness is an illusion.
You are never helpless. Never. There is always something you can do to be proactive to improve the situation. Even in the darkest night you are not helpless. If you believe you are without options you will begin a downward spiral. Depression sets in. You start to focus on the bad instead of looking for the good. You are not helpless. It just feels that way.
When you don’t know what to do, focus more on you than on the circumstances.
This may seem counter-intuitive. But remember, you are dealing with circumstances beyond your control. Those circumstances are EXTERNAL. And it’s true: you may be unable to change them. But when it comes to INTERNAL circumstances you are free to control them. You can force yourself to focus on the positive. And if the only thing positive is that you are able to take the next breath, focus on that. The battle, when you don’t know what to do, is won or lost in the interior of your mind.
When you don’t know what to do, seek the advice of a trusted friend.
When you hit a roadblock you ought to consider sharing with a trusted friend. The benefits are obvious. A friend brings fresh eyes to the roadblock. They can provide you with a different perspective. And they allow you the opportunity to get the issue out into the open. Listen to your trusted advisor. Consider what they say. But follow any advice with care. It’s your life, not theirs.
Too often there are times when you don’t know what to do. But don’t surrender. You are not helpless. You can make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt. Focus on yourself. Seek sound advice. Grit your teeth and move forward. Going backward is of no use. Standing still keeps you stuck in the funk. Forward is the only viable option. So move forward.
Good words of clarity, Randy. Thanks for thoughts that are so relative to the moment for so many… Great to see you at Homecoming!
Great to see you too!
Thanks for the encouraging words, Randy. It was a great time to be together at the reunion but this change of focus on what’s wrong to being positive is good.