I was on the Today show recently doing a segment about what to do when life doesn’t work out the way you want it to. The panel included terrific authors Rene Syler and Amy Cohen and the talented Debbie Nigro, a founder and Chief Executive Girlfriend of firstwivesworld.com. Here are the five tips I was not able to give on air, the steps you can take that can help when things go south, especially in your dating or love life.
Life almost always takes a left turn-it never seems to go the way we expect. The One turns out to be a Dud, the chemistry dies off in your marriage, you get divorced and on and on. How do we cope? Studies show that certain people are more resilient-they adapt quickly and easily to change. When they hit unexpected, unwanted left turns in their lives, they use mentors, positive emotions and self-talk to help cope. These fortunate people can turn a bushel of lemons into a whole lemonade stand. So, aside from being envious, what can we learn from them?
Here are five ways resilient people turn life’s disappointments into unexpected blessings and opportunities:
1. Use humor
Research on people who watched funny videos showed they had reduced stress hormones, a boost to the immune system and a reduction in feeling pain. Laughter is a lifts you right out of that downward spiral of negative thoughts and feelings that come with loss. Look for the funny angle.
2. Find a mentor
This is what totally changed my life. As young adult I never wanted or expected to marry anyone because I had only seen battles and unhappiness in my parent’s marriage. I was caught in deadly dating patterns, being a hermit or taking crumbs and wanting the guys who didn’t want me. But then I got a love mentor who taught me that love was possible and how to create it. This was the beginning of the program in my book Love in 90 Days. And using those principles I took a left turn-here I am 180 degrees opposite from what I imagined-in a loving marriage to a guy who is my best friend for over 25 years!
3. Use a positive focus
Research is very clear that even after they have faced a serious life-changing event resilient people focus on positive thoughts and feeling that might come up-whether it is a moment of peacefulness, calmness or delight over a visit from a child or the beauty of a flower. They feel their anger, fear and depression, but they also experience whatever positive feelings come up. Even the most difficult circumstances can be seen in a more positive way. If your husband suddenly up and left, are you free to pursue your passion for painting now? Put your attention on the door to creativity and fun that is opening up for you.
4. Find and enjoy the hidden benefits
What is freeing about your new situation? How are you better off as a person? Now that you are divorced can you go on a shopping spree without having to fight a battle over it? What is going to be good about this situation? If you just broke up with a person who is very critical and demeaning, are you already starting to feel a little better about yourself?
5. Work on new goals
Resilient people don’t dwell in the past, and constantly think about what was lost. They use the steps we just talked about to be forward-looking and choose new goals that bring a measure of hope and happiness. If you are suddenly single, start poking around a few online dating sites. Take a chance and go out on a blind date with your neighbor’s friend. Set some new dating goals for yourself, even though it’s absolutely the last thing you want to do. Shifting your attention will get you out of your slump. Really.
You can learn much more about the latest research on building intimate relationships and techniques for recovering from breakups in my new book, Love in 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love.