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Dealing with difficult times.

Dealing with curveballs and setbacks that turn your life upside down. Recently my husband and I have been dealing with some difficult challenges that have a big impact on our life, family and work.

The biggest of these challenges are health related.

Having one person in the family with health challenges is difficult enough to deal with. When it is both of you that are navigating health issues, you are both self-employed and you home educate your teen it becomes a serious situation.

Then add in some other significant challenges that choose to present themselves at the same time and that becomes a storm that needs 100% focus to navigate through.

That is what we are doing. Getting laser focussed on what matters most right now and putting strong boundaries in place to protect that.

One of the decisions we made was to totally clear our schedule of absolutely everything that didn’t class as a necessity for our life, family, work, and business at this time.

That decision has helped enormously.

We are able to focus totally on sorting out our health challenges and the other challenges life has served up at this time. We are also using this time to rethink what we want for our life, family, work and business for the next chapter of our lives when we come out the other side of this storm.

New ideas are emerging. New possibilities and opportunities are being explored. New dreams are emerging. A new chapter is being written. Good things are starting to come out of this dark time.  But that hasn’t happened by chance. That was a proactive choice driven by a belief that when the brown stuff hits the fan there is always an opportunity lurking in there somewhere.

Curveballs, setbacks and challenges are part of life.  To expect them not to be is unrealistic. But you get to choose how you deal with them.

We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can ALWAYS choose how we respond.

How you choose to respond drives what happens next so it is important to choose how you respond to difficult times carefully.

For example, a difficult time many years ago when we still lived in Ireland became a pivot point to follow our dream of moving to Canada. Out of that dark time came a new life in a new country and a long held dream achieved.

We choose to approach the current difficult times in the same way. It is a setback on the path of life. But the path of life is never linear. Accepting that helps.

Dealing with difficult times

Storms don’t last forever. Once you get through the chaos and uncertainty there is calm and clarity. 

But to get there you have to give your focus and attention to choosing your approach, mindset, strategy and response to navigating the storm to get to calmer waters!

It is important to keep that in mind when navigating difficult times.

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  • Martin Haworth

    Hey Allie.

    This is very useful and easy enough to get your head around, but I have a question. In ‘Mindset’ by Carole Dweck (which, being very well read, you may have come across!), she explains the differences between ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ thinking.

    In many ways, the book subtly criticises those who have the ‘fixed’ wiring, but I feel she struggles to explain how we can shift from that ‘half-empty’ to ‘half-full’ mindset.

    It’s quite easy to appreciate the concept (especially when you are erring towards ‘growth’ naturally!), but I wonder what you consider are ways forwards for those who tend to shrug off the world in a ‘that’s the way it is’ resigned manner? How to help them move out of that into a more expansive responsibility for their own destinies?

  • Martin, yes, I have read Mindset by Carol Dweck. Great book.I think shifting from fixed mindset to growth mindset takes time, patience and commitment. I see it as thought habits. Therefore, I approach it in a similar process to forming any new habit. But instead of an external habit, it is just focussing on an internal habit.

  • Yes, yes and yes. This is all on point. I appreciate your delving into this one as it’s relevant to so many of us.

  • Thanks Carol. Glad you liked it.

  • Martin Haworth

    OK – great perspective. One that’s been puzzling me a little.

    Thanks and hope all is well with you all.


  • Martin, I think what Carol does well in her book is to raise awareness. And awareness is the first step in creating change. I think the next step after the book is to work on deconstructing old mindset and thoughts habits, that no longer serve us, by creating new ones and fostering them until they become the new default mindset and thought settings.

  • Darlene Berkel

    Over the years, I’ve learned to build resilience to life’s challenges from within. Getting laser focused is crucial, as is having a positive attitude. Thoughts ( whether negative or positive) can become our reality. I love the serenity prayer. That has helped me to go from chaos to calm no-matter what life throws at me.

  • Darlene, totally with you about fostering resilience from within. Mindset and thought patterns play such a big role in how we experience difficult times.

  • Martin Haworth

    I agree. What I was considering was whether there are people who simply cannot shift; cannot do away with their limiting beliefs; to such an extent that they cannot take charge of their lives. In coaching, we work on these self-imposed limits, but I was wondering if in your experience, everyone can move forward.
    In all my clients I have only really had 2 who refused to move forward, and we agreed not to work together. I’m pondering on whether it is fixed; absolute; genetic, or a learned behaviour that can ALWAYS be left behind, with the right input or support.

  • YES! Choosing our reaction is empowering. We decide how to approach difficulties. We may not be able to control them or their outcome, but we decide our reaction. Spot on.

  • Thanks Kelly. There is always choice, in every situation.

  • You are welcome Pennie. So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Love the graphic.

  • Maggie MacMillan

    Great reminder– and I love that illustration! I agree with your decision to simplify things until you get to the basic core needs of yourself and your family during this time. Wishing you luck!

  • Tamara Grand

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve figured out the best way to navigate and move forward! With respect to ‘we can always choose how to respond’, I’d like to remind everybody that this isn’t always the case. While it sounds great in theory, we need to make sure we honour our feelings; things that are sometimes beyond our ability to control. xo

  • Alana Mautone

    So true, and it is so hard to remember when you are in the midst of the storm. But we must.

  • Me too. It represents the journey of life so well.

  • Simplicity is one of my core values. Makes everything in life and work so much easier, especially during diffcult times.

  • Tamara,I agree that dealing with feelings and emotions needs to be treated with compassion and managed and worked through in a way that works for each person in whatever they are going through. I think one of the best and most inspiring books I have read in relation to that is Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl. It is the true story of a Psychiatrist who lost his parents, brother and pregnant wife in the Second World War and he spent years in different concentration camps. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. It is a fabulous read, packed with great food for thought.

  • Alana, I agree. Even in a storm it is how we respond that drives how we experience it and, ultimately, the outcome when we come out the other side.