Fall is my favorite season! Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful fall day here in Missouri complete with sunshine and soft breezes. Because of the mild weather, our front door was open with only the glass storm door between us and the outdoors. My daughter and I were catching up on shows we DVR’d over the last couple of weeks while our Yorkie, Dexter, was resting on the couch beside me. All of a sudden Dexter goes into a berserk barking frenzy, pounces up on the back of the couch and starts pawing the window pane with agitation. I tried to grab him and shush him while I asked “What’s he barking at?” My daughter looked out the front door and calmly replied, “It’s a cow.”
Yesirree, there was a cow coming down our street and as we watched it skirted around our car, darted into our yard, did a little shortcut over our shrubs and sidewalk before it headed north on an adjacent street. I am no stranger to cows; I was raised on a farm and have had more than my share of cow experiences so it wasn’t a scary thing. It was a ‘where did a cow come from’ thing. As we stood in the yard watching the cow continue its great adventure a family in a golf cart zoomed by as the children exclaimed, “Cow on the loose, cow on the loose!” I assume the cow was apprehended, read its rights and as we speak serving time for its mad dash for freedom!
I saw a life lesson in this experience. Just when you think everything is calm and peaceful a cow comes along out of nowhere and takes you by surprise! Okay, maybe for you it isn’t a cow; it might be a flat tire on the freeway, or the boss you really like gets a better job and leaves, or the furnace needs replacing, or you or a family member has an unexpected emergency, or you lose an important client to a competitor, OR? You get the idea, things happen that we can’t control. In fact, most of the things that happen to us we can’t control, but we can choose our reaction.
So how do you react to unexpected occurrences?
-Do you panic?
-Do you blame someone else?
-Do you ignore it and hope it turns out okay?
-Do you take charge and start barking orders?
-Do you make a plan but never execute it?
We all deal with the unexpected differently but I suggest the following as a good start:
- STOP Take a moment for your senses to assess the situation before you react. That means no emotional outbursts, anger, or drama. For instance, I stopped instead of running down the street after the cow! Okay seriously, give yourself a minute before you do something you regret and/or react in a way that makes the situation worse.
- BREATHE Take a few deep breaths. Breathing allows you to de-stress and take control of your mind so you can react more rationally. Oh boy, I wish I could take back all the times I skipped this step and said or did the wrong thing! It doesn’t have to be a public demonstration; just pause and breathe till you feel it is right to continue.
- THINK After one and two you are now in a position and frame of mind to make a plan, prioritize your actions and figure out how to set those actions into motion. Remember to ward off negativity while you think so you don’t spiral back into a stress mode. If I can do this you can do this!
What works for you when the unexpected happens? Share your ideas with me and I will compile as a list for all my subscribers. We live in challenging and complex times; let’s help each other along the way. Send your tips and wisdom to:Darla@DarlaArni.com.
*Want to know where I first learned the STOP-BREATHE-THINK plan of dealing with life? I learned it from watching Blue’s Clues with my toddler in the late 90’s. I listened to Steve, Blue’s friend, say it so many times that it became a mantra. Wisdom comes in many forms; we must be ready to receive!
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to act in the presence of fear.”~ Bruce & Stan