5 Things to Do When Life Isn’t Cooperating

by | Feb 21, 2024

One of my sayings on a frustrating week that I often say to Larry and to Judi (my friend/assistant) is, “Can’t anything just be easy?” Have you ever said that?

We’ve all had those weeks that seem to be filled with small to medium frustrations nipping at our heels. By small to medium, I mean that nothing colossal has happened like a death in the family or a significant loss of another kind like losing your job or having a tree fall on your house or something crazy like that. I’m talking about the days when a bunch of things happen like…

  • You’re riding down the road and your “check engine” light comes on.
  • Someone volunteers to do something for you and they back out.
  • Someone commits to attend something that is important to you and then they cancel.
  •  A bill is much more than you expected it to be.
  • You’re told that you can do one thing in the context of your job, and then it suddenly changes and you have to abruptly come up with a new plan.

I’ve had all  of the above happen to me the past week. Nothing was anything to throw a hissy fit about, it was just super annoying. This is normal for any of us — just life not perfectly cooperating with what we desperately need. (A car to work, volunteers to show up, bills to be paid, etc.) But if it goes on too long without me directly addressing it, I get rough around the edges. If I just keep letting all these frustrations ruminuate in my mind and spirit without intentionally doing something in response, it begins to affect me in a significant, and not-so-good way.

Here are five things I do on the weeks when the small to medium stuff of life crops up:

I pretend I’m a stranger advising myself

Sometimes it helps to pretend I’m not me, but another person/leader advising me. If I was a stranger, advising myself, what would I say to myself? This usually helps me get in the right mindset on an issue, pretty quick. I can readily see what the wise thing is for others to do, but when I get in the muck and the mire of my daily life and people I deal with, things can become muddy. When I remove all that and pretend I’m talking to a stranger, I begin to see the path clearly as to how to respond.

I talk to myself out loud.

This is not the stuff of a crazy person! It has been  medically proven to be entirely normal and even beneficial. To clarify, it would be abnormal if there were things like hallucinations involved, in conjunction with talking to yourself. But most of the time, when people talk to themselves, it’s an entirely normal thing that helps them process. When I’m rough around the edges, I start giving myself a pep talk out loud. “Okay Deanna, things are like this right now, but are you gonna give up? Are you gonna melt down? Are you gonna give in to the temptation to response unwisely? NO YOU ARE NOT! Right now you are going to do THIS, and you are going to move past this hurdle, into the next right thing!” There are times I am tempted to post something snarky online as a result of whatever just happened. I will literally talk to myself and say, “Back away Deanna! Back away! Back away from the computer right now! Put your phone down! It’s time for a cup of coffee!” And I shut my laptop, and go in the other room and brew a cup.

I give myself motivational talks out loud all the time. It’s part of my regimen for success. Try it.

I suddenly shift gears by changing locations.

When several things happen that are frustrating, I’ll sometimes say to Judi, “Let’s get out of here and go downtown.” We close up the office, get in the car and go downtown to a coffee shop where we work for the next few hours. I love what Mark Batterson says:

“Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective.”

The change of pace and place shakes things up in a good way. Simple things re-energize us, like having a perfect cup of coffee in positive surroundings. (Mitchell’s Coffee Shop is our favorite.) This often helps us think better, come up with more creative ideas, and blow off some steam. Suddenly, I feel my rough edges being smoothed out.

I watch a TV Show or movie.

I’m not a TV person, at all. In fact, I could live without television. My husband is the opposite, but if I never saw a TV again, I’d be perfectly fine. A lot of this has to do with my upbringing. My parents pretty strictly regulated TV growing up and we did more reading, playing, being outdoors and all that jazz. This has a lot to do with my formation and being the person I am today. But I digress. The point is, sometimes the best thing for me to do is to get engrossed in a TV show and forget about my problems for an hour. It doesn’t mean I’m in denial, or refusing to deal with my frustrations. What it means is that sometimes I need a momentary escape to think about something else. A mental health break, if you will.

I get moving.

Movement helps you process things, and work out frustration. Find what works for you. If you don’t enjoy it, it won’t work! You can do everything from walking to running to riding a bike to dancing and more. Just move!

An article at Harvard Health says:

“Aerobic exercise is key for your head, just as it is for your heart. You may not agree at first; indeed, the first steps are the hardest, and in the beginning, exercise will be more work than fun. But as you get into shape, you’ll begin to tolerate exercise, then enjoy it, and finally depend on it.”

It is interesting that once we start moving to reduce stress and work things out in our minds we come to depend on it. It’s a good thing to depend on — rather than depending on food or alcohol or other choices that could harm our bodies rather than help them.

I hope these five things will help you as they do me when life just doesn’t seem to be cooperating. I would like to hear what you do, when you find yourself fielding frustrations. Share with me in the comments.


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