A few weekends ago, I was enjoying a slow Saturday morning. I had just finished an early morning workout, with plans to sip coffee and make breakfast later. But life had other plans, throwing me a curveball. My Namaw was in the hospital, and with my mom out of the country, I had to step up.
As we drove, my mind raced. I stressed, I worried, and I predicted. I felt rushed and tense, unprepared and nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t see this curve ball coming, and I wasn’t completely sure how to handle it.
As we drove, I realized how often life throws curve balls our way. It would be awesome if we could stop curve balls from coming, but we can’t. Stuff happens. That’s part of being human. So while we can’t stop the curve balls from coming, we can choose how we’ll respond.
In the middle of last weekend’s curveball, I decided to use the experience as a teachable moment. (Especially after we knew that my Namaw was going to be okay.) Today, I’m sharing 5 things to do when life throws you a curve ball.
1. Practice gratitude. Research continues to prove the power of gratitude. It is one of the most effective ways to challenge your brain’s pattern of focusing on the negative. It may seem counterintuitive to practice gratitude when life throws you a curve ball, but it’s important. Challenge yourself to name things, no matter how small, for which you can be grateful. (Learn more about how to practice gratitude here.)
2. Remember, you don’t have to make all the decisions now. Just take one step at a time. When life throws you a curve ball, you tend to think ten steps ahead, getting swept away by worry. Gently remind yourself to stay in the present moment and take each step as it comes.
3. Take a mindful breath. Curve balls usually come with stress, and your body responds accordingly. Reduce your stress at the physiological level by taking a few slow, mindful breaths. (Learn exactly how to do this here.) Repeat frequently.
4. Remind yourself that it could be worse. This point comes with a very important disclaimer. Tone matters as you say this. This phrase is not meant to be minimizing. It’s not meant to convey a “suck it up” mentality. It’s meant to help you keep the curve ball in proportion. Our brains love to magnify stressful situations. By gently reminding yourself that it could be worse and being thankful that it’s not, you’re helping your brain see the situation more accurately. Again, tone and intent are so important with this point. Make sure to watch the video to hear the subtlety.
5. See this as an opportunity to learn something. Every curve ball presents an opportunity to learn something. Whether it’s about yourself, a process, an issue, or available resources, challenges help us gain knowledge. At some point in the future, you’ll have this knowledge, thanks to this curve ball.
Life would be easier without curve balls. But then it wouldn’t be life, would it? Curve balls don’t have to take us out of the game. We have a choice in how we respond.
What curveball are you currently dealing with? Which one of these strategies do you need to remember most?