You’re happily cruising through life, work and play. All feels great and then suddenly… Bang! A curveball comes out of nowhere and seriously shakes things up.
We’ve all been there. And it’s not always the drastically earth-shattering events either. Sometimes it’s the little hiccups that totally dissipate our flow. The hot water stops mid-shower, deadlines are pushed forward, another lockdown arrives right in time for school holidays – the list goes on. The question isn’t whether or not the universe will throw us a curveball, it’s more a matter of when. It happens to all of us – and this year has been quite the example of that!
Despite our best efforts, life tends to present us with uncomfortable challenges to overcome and grow alongside. Still, an objective lens doesn’t necessarily take away the emotional toll these curve balls can have on us – especially when we don’t see them coming. Such occurrences can push our moods to extremes. We might begin to feel anxious and overwhelmed, and the fight or flight response often kicks in.
So, a matter utmost importance particularly now: here are some tips on how to handle curveballs, and how to navigate them with grace.
1. Acknowledge and pause.
After a curveball it’s important to first pause and breathe. Take your time to think. Shock and surprise could mean that you’re not acting in accordance with your long-term interests if you take action immediately. Give yourself a little time to process what’s just unfolded. While a perceived loss of control can have us grasping for it back – it’s okay to accept the fact that you don’t have all the answers, and this may not be the right time to find solutions.
When curveballs hit us, it’s perfectly normal to feel fear, stress, anxiety, or anger. It’s important that we recognise (rather than suppress) these feelings, and give ourselves the time and space to honour any loss, calm down and ground ourselves.
Ignoring our emotions is unhealthy on both mental and physical levels. As this Time article notes, doing so is ‘like pressing on the gas and brakes of your car at the same time, creating an internal pressure cooker.’ We could be finding ourselves in uncharted territory. As a result, this is the time to focus on your inner wellbeing, before you navigate the external.
2. Take it one step at a time
It’s common to have feelings of helplessness arise with curveballs. Day to day tasks can become increasingly difficult as our routines are thrown out of whack. If this is the case – turn your attention to the things that you can control or change. This might mean planning and living hour-to-hour for a while: I’m going to take a nap, take a day off, cook a meal, watch some Netflix. By doing what you can with the resources available to you, you’ll gradually start to feel more empowered. Be kind to yourself, and remember this involves small steps at a time.
‘Baseball calls it a curveball for a reason: you just don’t know where some pitches will land… Your bench must be broad and deep enough to overcome.’ – Christine Pelosi
3. Make plans
When it feels right, planning is the next important step to help you move forward. Circumstances may feel beyond your control, or unchangeable – but you can still steer the direction of your life. Even when everything is out of your control, you can still choose how you respond. Curveballs force us to rethink things.
In choosing your next steps forward it’s important to be flexible and ask questions like: what will make me happy? What changes will improve the situation things? Be experimental here, there are no wrong answers. You might need to think outside the box, to find answers & a perspective previously unknown. Studies have shown that a key indicator of one’s happiness is a sense of autonomy, here defined as ‘the feeling that your life—its activities and habits—are self-chosen.’ It’s at this step you really take the reins back on your life.
4. Accept the curveball
In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra outlines the ‘Law of Least Effort,’ of which a huge part involves acceptance. Many Eastern philosophies suggest that – rather than the situations themselves – the suffering we experience comes from our desiring a different reality. A huge part of moving forward after a curveball is accepting and finding peace with what has happened. As Chopra explains, ‘this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be.’ How many times have you felt terrible about a situation, to look back with hindsight and see it as a blessing in disguise? Things that don’t make sense now… tend to fall together later down the track.
5. Assign your own meaning
Next in overcoming curveballs, is the step where we assign our own unique meaning to the experience. We encounter many experiences in our day-to-day lives – some, we consider positive and some, negative. Yet the quality of our experience relative to those experiences is flavoured by one thing and that is: the meaning that we assign to the experience. There are two distinct paths here. You could decide that the curveball you were thrown, was unfair. This might lead to thoughts of: I don’t deserve this. I can’t ever catch a break.
Unfortunately, negative and draining thoughts such as these, will perpetuate more painful experiences.
When we disidentify (just a tad), we’ll be able to better take things at face value. Taking on a third-party perspective here might help you here. What would you say to a friend, going through the same thing? Thoughts from here look more like: what’s the silver lining? What’s this experience teaching me?
As well as allowing our sense of empowerment to return, this state will free up energy that we can then use to shift circumstances. If the experience still feels terrible, a useful tool is backtracking. Ask yourself: what am I making this mean? Answers that could up here are things like: I’ve failed, they don’t like me, I’m not good enough.
The beautiful thing with our minds is we can use them however we like. Find the painful meaning you’ve naturally gravitated towards, question it – and then simply choose a new one! Creating a daily mantra to rewire your belief will be effective here.
Life throws all sorts of unexpected things our way. Give yourself time to heal from difficult challenges. It might not happen overnight, but it will. Remember, when life throws you a curveball – it’s always an opportunity to hit a home run.
Our latest curveball has meant that we’re temporarily closed until July 12. We’re sending everyone our love and best wishes. Stay safe and well, and we’ll see you soon.