obstacles in life“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

Do you ever feel that you just can’t catch a break?  When it seems that one bad thing after another happens to you?  Or just when you think you’re getting your head above water, another wave of bad stuff washes over you and spoils your happiness?

Obviously, if you’ve experienced infidelity in your life you’ve experienced one of the worst things possible, but today we’re talking more about the everyday obstacles in life that seem to wear you down. (Though I hope that what I share can be applied to affair recovery as well.)

Linda and I were having a discussion the other day – after a series of setbacks – and we were lamenting that it seems that sometimes God, Karma or some other unknown force is punishing us.  You see, we go through these brief periods where everything is going great, things are positive and all is good in all areas of our life and then shit starts to happen that knocks us back down a few pegs.

In our situation…

For the last month, things have been great in all areas of our lives:  our relationship has been awesome, our kids are doing great, my businesses are doing well, we had a great vacation, etc.  Then, within the last two weeks we’ve lost our dog, we have two cars that need expensive repairs, my business partner wants to quit, our water heater died, both our daughters need their wisdom teeth out, oh… and we have a leak in our roof.

Granted these aren’t too horrible by any means (except for our dog of course) in comparison to several other occurrences we’ve experienced over the years – financial problems, miscarriages, problem pregnancies, accidents, job loss, etc., but they tend to wear on you and get you down nonetheless.

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Interestingly, while I felt bummed, I wasn’t hung up or stressed out about our most recent rash of bad luck.  Linda tends to take things a little harder and worries more, but she seemed to let most of these things slide as well. 

I think that having experienced some far worse things in our lives has helped us to cope better with all these frustrating obstacles that life seems to throw at us on a regular basis.

Our Negative Coping Behaviors

Whenever something bad happens to us, it’s easy for us to slip into one (or more)of the following behaviors:

  • We play the victim.  We ask ourselves “Why is this happening to me? Why am I so unlucky? Why doesn’t this happen to anyone else? It’s not fair!”
  • We get angry. We lash back at the situation, or even people around us, for what’s happening.
  • We blame ourselves for what has happened. We make self-depreciating comments like “Why am I so stupid to have done that?” “Only someone like me can make such a dumb mistake.”
  • We slip into depression. For those of you who have faced cases of depression before, you might fall back if you’re not careful at managing your emotions.
  • We get dejected and feel like giving up. We lose hope and decide it’s not worth it, that life is out to get us, and we should just stop trying altogether. We simply give up.

The thing is, as long as all of us are alive, we will be subjected to chaos, the ups and downs, the good and bad, the positives and the negatives of life. We are not the only people facing this. In fact, many people face far worse things in life.

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What sets us apart from others though, is how we choose to deal with these tough situations.

Coping with Obstacles in Life

Celestine Chua,  founder of the Personal Excellence website  offers 9 steps to cope with bad situations and obstacles in life and create something good out of them:

1. Release your frustrations. Don’t bottle them out because you might just implode. Talk to a friend about it. A listening ear does wonders. Go exercise and release the tension. Journal it out.

2. Realize you are not alone. No matter what you may think, you’re not alone in this. Somewhere around the world, someone else is thinking the exact same thing as you. Someone out there is feeling down and out too, wondering why she is experiencing this. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

3. Being frustrated isn’t going to solve anything. The problem will still remain whether you go berserk at it or whether you think about it calmly. The former will create more problems as your agitation prevents you from making good decisions.

4. Know you always have a choice. Realize no matter what happens, you always have a choice in how you react. While you may not be able to control what happens to you, you can most certainly control your behaviors. You can face the worst things in the world, but if you make the choice not to let yourself be affected by them, you won’t be.

5. Objectify it. An incident is an incident; we’re responsible for the feelings attached. Remove the feelings and look at the situation objectify. This will help us cope a lot better.

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6. Focus on what you can do. Action creates empowerment. It brings possibilities. It creates results. By taking action, you are no longer a passive recipient. You are a conscious creator.

7. Ask for help if you need to. It’s okay to ask for help if it makes the situation easier. Remember, you are not alone in this.

8. See it as an obstacle to be overcome. Life is a journey of learning and growth, and everything happens for a reason. Obstacles are the things stopping you from getting your goals, and if you keep overcoming these obstacles, you’ll eventually get what you want.

9. Identify the lesson learned. There are always things to be learned from every situation.

Regardless of what life throws our way – the death of a dog, a leaky roof or loss of a job – as long as we cope with it positively and constructively, it will be tough for anything to drag us down.

So how do you cope with negative situations? What has been useful for you? Feel free to share with everyone in the comments section below.


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    19 replies to "When Bad Stuff Happens – Coping With Obstacles in Life"

    • Saw the Light

      Awesome reminders. I love that we always have a choice, and can choose to learn and grow. I also think that thriving through sad and painful times requires a refusal to default into self-pity. Thankful.

    • tryinghard

      We own our own business so everyday there is a new “challenge” a new stress a new problem. If it’s not employees it’s clients, vendors, banks, problems on jobs you name it. I just had to speak to an employee about conducting her personal business at her desk ALL DAY LONG. I kept letting it pass because I didn’t want to deal with it and she is a low paid employee. But today I finally said something. No I didn’t feel better having to say something she should already know!!!

      Then of course there is the personal at home problems. Crazy ass MIL. Son getting divorced. Grandson acting out. You name it!!! It’s a wonder I don’t buy an old school bus and move to Alaska!!!! Well maybe not Alaska, northern California.

      We talk about work a lot. Sometimes too much, but he has done it all himself (his choice) for too long and I need to be here to help him (and protect MY interest). This business is what has taken care of me and my family for a long time. It needs my attention and I am trying to do the job well. My mantra is, it’s better to be feared than loved (yes The Art of War). We have been way to nice to employees and I have to let the employees know I am NOT their friend. I am their boss. Call me bitch, but to you dear employee, I am Boss Bitch!!!

      I agree with all the points and agree that the stresses are too much for a marriage that is already in a tenuous place. Marriage is tough and yes sometimes when it’s tough the conversation goes back to the infidelity, but I believe the way our spouses handled the everyday stresses is what led them to make the poor choice to seek support outside the marriage. The stresses will always be there but one has to be mindful of the mature way of handling the stresses. I don’t complain or try to be part of the problem. If I have a complaint, I work to find the solution. This applies to business, family and personal stresses.

      • exercisegrace

        TH, I’ve said it before but our lives parallel in many ways. We own a business too. We too have learned the hard way that much like parenting, you are NOT there to be their friend. It’s a great way to get taken advantage of. We used to give all kinds of perks back in the day, even cell phones! Until that got waaaay abused. Then we were the big bad meanies for cutting it off. Sorry, I’m not paying cell minutes for you to talk to your wife, ON company time!!

        While I don’t work in the business, I have always been a big part of the decision making and planning. We also talked about work a lot. To the point where I felt my husband was never really getting a break from it. Sadly, I can remember telling my husband we should make an effort to talk about things other than work and the kids. Expand our horizons a little, I said! When he stopped mentioning work much at all, I thought he was “de-stressing”. In reality he had begun talking to his parasite and didn’t need me to be his sounding board. he didn’t need to tell me so many stories of his day, he had shared those with her already. BLEH!!!!

        I also very much agree with being mindful of healthy ways to manage stress. My husband’s affair was a direct result of tremendous stress that we were both under. The affair was his escape from reality. He chose not to tell me how bad he was doing, that he was seriously depressed. By the time it all came out, and I insisted he get help, the affair was too far gone. If I could stand on a podium and lecture couples everywhere, this would be my main point. When life is at its most stressful, your marriage is at its most vulnerable. It is sad but true, just when you think you need to (and can) lean on the history and strength of your relationship, you need to be guarding it the most.

        • tryinghard

          OMG you just made me realize something. He told the MC that he couldn’t talk to me about business because I wasn’t there and didn’t understand. Well before the affair he always talked to me about business but during the affair he had her to talk to about business and then conveniently said he couldn’t talk to me because I didn’t really know what was going on in the business. That always made me shake my head and say WTF are you talking about. Just excuses right??

          • Strengthrequired

            What is it with the ow and our husbands talking ti them about our businesses? Do you think maybe it is a bit of an ego boost that they can use the business as a way if showing the ow that they are the perfect catch because they own a business?
            Or the ow thinks that they will be set up for life if they can only catch this prize catch of a man because a business owner seems to be appealing?
            I just winder if that’s why the ow tries so hard to win our life. You have to admit, it’s more about what the ow can get, monetary value nit for love.

    • forcryin'outloud

      I’m an incredibly strong person. Very logical and cerebral. I’ve been told I think more like a man than a woman on many occasions. So I come at every obstacle with the perspective of how can I fix it. For me this crisis has brought out SO many emotions and I think I stumble with dealing with them. But at the end of every day I know I will continue to climb this mountain with dignity, grace and a heaping of hope (while occasionally falling on my face but always getting back up). I refuse to have obstacles define me but rather how I handle them.
      For me handling them requires pray, spirituality, and self reliance that both my grandmothers taught me.

      • Tryinghard

        Amen. I always pull my strength from my female ancestors too. My grandmother raised 5 children on a rendering farm in France by herself. she worked like a dog under deplorable conditions just to survive. My mother escaped capture from the Gestapo during WWII. She survived being gased and air raids. She came to the US not speaking a word of English. And no one but her husband hated by my grandparents. I come from strong female stock on both sides. College educated and land owners when women weren’t allowed to. I am stronger because of them and I’ll be damned if I let a low life (my H or the OW) make me ever believe I am any less than what I know I am and who and where I come from.

    • chiffchaff

      Going through the discovery and (hopefully) recovery from affairs does teach you alot about how to cope, if you’re prepared to learn from it. Objectifying is very useful, as is sleeping on a problem. as a lawyer I see nothing but arguments and have to see both sides. You can’t do that subjectively. It didn’t help me on Dday and I think with massive life traumas you have to try and be kind to yourself. Objectify yourself first.
      Through this process I learnt that I hadn’t even grieved my mother’s death 6 years prior or our miscarriages. I was brought up to not show emotion because it was weak. I was always expected to be the strong one in the family, no idea why I was chosen for that role but maybe it’s because my father and sister are massive cowards. I thought that I had to be strong, decisive and objective when it came to organising the funeral and everything after. Similarly I thought that as miscarriage was so common then it was silly to be upset by it. Years of suppressing my feelings. It’s not healthy. I never wanted to be a victim or wallow in self-pity.
      I found writing my thoughts out very useful. talking with trusted friends (well turns out one very trusted friend indeed) and using distraction when you get low. it’s why I took up running last year, a challenge, something I thought impossible, something you had to focus on completely. it worked and it also gives me positive feedback. I completed my second race at the weekend in 7 minutes faster than the last race. I had trained hard for 5 weeks prior with the aim of smashing my PB and I did.
      I used to overeat to stop me feeling and that just gave negative feedback. Feel bad – eat too much – get fatter – feel worse – eat too much – etc. Now I control my eating with the aim of running faster and have instead got feel bad – go for a run- feel tired – eat normally because I’m hungry – fit into clothes better – feel good. it works for me.
      Developing resilience takes time though and an ability to try and work out the patterns of negative behaviour that you fall into. I now also know that I start by blaming myself. I try now to think ‘oh, that’s me blaming myself again – is that reasonable?’ before allowing myself to feel bad for much longer.

    • EyesOpened

      Chuff chaff – well done on your run time!!! My big brother told me to stop visiting coffee shops and get on my bike – so I saw a rare moment of freedom at the weekend and went for it. It felt really good and I hope to get a free hour to do it again soon. your post is very uplifting – and Im so pleased your journey of discovery is helping you become stronger and confident. Sounds like you’re making great progress in all areas.

    • tryinghard

      You guys are so motivating!!! I have a great bike, I have a bike rack, we have many great walking and biking trails here and have yet to be on my bicycle once this year. Oh yeah it hasn’t even been a hot summer so I have no excuses!!! Just one, I am dead ass tired at night!!! Reading about you guys running and biking is motivating.

    • Rachel

      Trying hard,
      I walk. It’s amazing for clearing the head!! : )

    • chiffchaff

      I started getting fitter by walking more, further and then faster and further. then I started the couch to 5k training programme. it snowballed from there. I’m not anything like fast but I don’t care.
      My main activity is walking though as I have a dog. Walking is my favourite and I don’t care what the weather’s like.
      I think people just need to find something they like doing that’s healthy, that distracts them, and do more of it. be open to new things.
      My H has recently started dropping into conversation that he might take up running… I think he just wants to beat me at it 🙂

      • tryinghard

        HAHA— I know all about the competitiveness of that. I think it really irks my H when we hike and I am ahead of him!! I’m such a girlie girl, (yes I am out there with lipstick and make up!) and it is so out of my little box. I was always afraid of bugs and well falling. I love the physical and mental challenge of it. I also like the “in your face” aspect of it. I think it’s good your H wants to share something with you that you enjoy and he knows you are good at!! Running just wrecks my knees and besides I am pretty well endowed so it takes a lot of prep work to get the girls restrained before running!! I can walk fast though!

        • chiffchaff

          We’re going hiking this weekend and I know that what we’ve got planned is physically very easy for me now. Odd then that my H keeps referring to how he ‘wonders how WE’LL both cope with the physical strain of going hiking’ and how ‘WE’ll probably find it very tiring’. I don’t think he likes to think that I’m so much fitter than him now. Men! (well, some of them).

          • tryinghard

            HAHAHA–OMG Chiff I will be thinking of you all weekend. You better come on here Monday and post about it! OK so just act cool but stay ahead. I sing hymns because I want God on my side when I’m out there and besides the noise keeps bears away. Stop and wait for him to catch up once in a while but don’t act like you know he’s lagging behind. He will be huffing and puffing and want to stop. Whatever you do DON’T let him see you breathing hard!! This is great. Good luck and have fun.

    • Strengthrequired

      I can’t help but think the ow in my life is praying I die or something like get really fat and ugly just so she can have my h and my family. She needs me out of the way, and what better way then me not on this earth.
      I have just found out that I have a nodul or something on my thyroid, so they want to do a biopsy to check it isn’t cancer.
      I’m just not sure about having anyone sticking a needle in my throat. Just not sure I can do it.
      My father has died of cancer, most of my dads brothers and sisters died of cancer, so it worries me too.
      I know I’m jumping the gun here, but if I’m not on this earth, the last person I ever want touching or raising my kids is cousin it.
      That in itself gives me a reason to face whatever I’m facing head on, and make sure she never gets to look at my kids need alone touch or raise them.
      Why do I feel like everything she wants is happening yet karma isn’t on her front door step knocking loudly?
      How is it I deserve this extra stress and worry and she still sits pretty with no care in the world.
      Or am I the one that is bad and her karma keeps coming for me?

    • Strengthrequired

      Sorry everyone just feeling abit sorry for myself right now. Just needed to vent.

    • Gizfield

      Strength, you are one of the sweetest, nicest people on here. Hope you are ok. Vent all you want, sweetie. There is a saying where I’m from ” Trash is it’s own reward”. The other woman wants to present herself as having a perfect life, when in actuality she is probably a pathetic little twit like mine is. She couldn’t even take care of her damn dog, turned it into the pound, now it’s mine. She will never have anything to do with my daughter, trust me on that. Just think good thoughts, ok.

    • Strengthrequired

      Thank you giz, she is a twit that’s for sure.
      I don’t want her near my children ever, I have a deep fear of her ending up with my family, and there is nothing I can do about it.

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