How To Handle Unexpected Events

Have you ever been thrown by a completely unexpected event?

Something that you absolutely didn’t want or expect to have happen?

Leaving you to wonder how to handle unexpected events. 

Let me relate what happened to me recently.

On September 19th, I returned home from a two week visit at my sister’s house near Charleston, SC.

The very next day, I was informed that I had to move from my home.

The details aren’t really important, but long story short, the owners decided to radically increase the rent above a level I could afford.

On top of that I was only given 15 days to find a new place to live.

Making matters worse, I’m in the process of getting married.

Which means that I’ll have to move twice in a short period of time.

Finding a place to live in my city isn’t something I relish doing.

I’ve done it several times in the past and it’s never a pleasant experience.

It’s a draining experience, both physically and mentally.

Looking for a new place to live was NOT something I wanted to do.

Or expected to do.

I’m quite comfortable living where I am.

And yet I had zero choice in the matter.

I imagine you’ve been there at some point in your life as well.

Some outside, unexpected event forced you to make a minor or perhaps major life change, one that you didn’t really want to make.

So what can you do when faced with an unexpected event?

Here are some ideas:

Face Reality And Take Action

I think the most important thing you can do in these sort of situations is to face reality.

And take whatever action you can to fix or resolve the situation.

In my case, the action to take was to look for a new place to live.

And as of last night, I’m happy to report…mission accomplished!

Now, taking action may seem like obvious advice.

Yet you might be surprised to learn that there are people who struggle with this.

Which often makes a bad situation worse.

For example, I’ve heard of several people who lost their jobs.

Instead of facing the reality of the situation and beginning to look for a new job, they lied to their spouses and pretended to go to the office.

They would dress for work every day, leave the house, hang out in a shopping mall or coffee shop, and then come back 8 or 9 hours later.

They did this for months!

I’m sorry but that’s literally insane.

Why did they do this?

Because they didn’t want their spouses to know that they had lost their jobs.

That’s some deep, dark denial of the reality of their situation.

And their failure to take appropriate action likely made a bad situation far, far worse.

Accept That Some Things Are Outside Your Control

You will never have 100% control of your life.


No matter what you do, no matter where you focus your energy, there will always be unexpected events that will have a large influence on what happens in your life.

For example, think about the athletes from the United States and other countries who trained for the 1980 Summer Olympics.

They had worked hard all their lives to reach this one moment.

And just as the moment was at hand, their dream was destroyed because the USSR decided to invade Afghanistan (which in turn led their countries to boycott the Olympics).

There was absolutely nothing these athletes could do to change that situation.

The decision to invade Afghanistan was outside of their control.

When we resist the reality of these sort of events, the negative feelings  – the anger, the fear, the frustration – persist.

Railing against the unfairness of life doesn’t get you anywhere.

Learning to accept that we’re not 100% in control of our lives is a healthy, adult response.

It’s also the beginning of healing the negative emotions that accompany an unexpected event.

Focus On The Positive

No matter what unexpected, negative event happens in your life, chances are you still have plenty of positive things in your life.

Plenty of things to be grateful for.

In my case, I have a wonderful fiancee, supportive friends and family, savings in the bank, and my health.

Sure I could lose any or all of those things tomorrow.

But at least in this moment, I have all of those things.

And no matter what else is going on in my life, I can be grateful for these things right now in this moment.

See Unexpected Events As A Growth Opportunity

We all need some comfortable situations in our life, we all need some stability.

And yet a life of 100% stability can’t lead to growth or change.

And sometimes we need outside, unexpected events to force us to change, to force us to grow.

How often have you read of someone who went to the same soul sucking job day after day after day, afraid to make a change, afraid to make a leap to follow their heart’s desire?

It was only when they were fired from their job that they finally took action and began pursuing what they really wanted to do.

Without that push out the door, they’d probably be still living a life of “someday”, instead of actively pursuing what they really want.

The truth is that we all sometimes need an outside push to get us on a better, more meaningful life path.

So the next time something unexpected happens in your life, I encourage you to look at it as a potential opportunity to start making some important life changes that you’ve been putting off.

Find Support

We all need supportive people in our lives.

People who will listen to us in a loving, non-judgmental way.

When your world is rocked by unexpected events, I encourage you to seek these people out and share your story.

Having someone who can truly listen to you and help you process your emotions can help you move forward much more quickly than if you try to go it alone.

And if you don’t have anyone in your life that you can currently rely on for that kind of support, perhaps this post can serve as a wake up call.

And you can start building those relationships.

Summary: How To Handle Unexpected Events

As I said earlier, I’m moving on Sunday!

It’s not what I really wanted to do but I landed on my feet.

And guess what?

I’m moving to a bigger place at the same price and one that’s closer to my fiancee!

I can’t guarantee the same positive outcome the next time you have an unexpected event in your life.

But if you follow some of the advice above, I have a feeling that things will turn out a lot better than you might initially expect…

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. This is really so true, Ed! We can’t control many things (or people!) but we can control how we respond and care for ourselves in the face of unexpected challenges.

    1. Absolutely Maria! Unfortunately, many of us fall into the trap of trying to control the situation, rather than our response.

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