My greatest threat is the unexpected. Isn't everyone’s? Who doesn't fear a devastating storm, a financial collapse, another world war, or worse? You could argue whether those things are truly unexpected, but even on a personal level no one looks forward to personal unexpected situations like their car not starting, or someone in the family getting sick, or some major catastrophe that comes out of nowhere. Sometimes unexpected things can be good; happy surprises do happen, but even those life changing happy events bring a certain level of anxiety. After all, some of those big unexpected things, like a baby (ask me how I know), a promotion, or a new relationship change your life in a moment. I’m such a control freak (I’m working on it) that for a long time even the good surprises were very stressful on me.
The thing is that I’m not all together unhealthy for being concerned about even the good unexpected things. I’m a planner by nature. It’s my favorite thing to do in the world, New Year’s Day and the week before the first day of school are my favorite times of the year. The planning is like therapy for the seemingly overwhelming tasks that have to be accomplished, a new school year or a new calendar year. Even if I wind up not following the plan, the act doing the planning helps me process the tasks and helps with stress. This is the same mindset most preppers have. We plan for a crisis and therefore we are able to process the possibility and then also cope with the stress of a threat. It’s very therapeutic and mentally sound--who’s the crazy one now?
Here Are A Few Tips For Prepping For And Surviving The Unexpected
Accept That Things Happen- Of course unexpected is a relative term. Is it really unexpected that the AC in an eleven year old car might not cool so well as it once did, or even go out all together? Things break, even new things. Houses need to be maintained and even repaired from time to time. Even though we might think of these little, or sometimes big breakdowns, as unexpected, for the most part they are predictable. Now, if the AC in a new car goes out that is more unexpected than the one in the eleven year old car, but with a little planning most of these “unexpected” predictable incidents can be handled without being traumatic. Survey all the items you depend on and then make a note of their age and quality. With this list in hand you can make a replacement budget for all those items. You might have a curve ball thrown at you every once in a while but if you buffer your budget by just a few dollars a month even those won’t be too painful.
Have A Plan- For some of us this is just a natural thing. We’re planners, but a lot of people fly by the seat of their pants like my husband (yes, we are total opposites). Having a plan for a variety of different scenarios can help you through any unexpected situation form a job loss to an unexpected death. Even though I’m a pen and pencil, write it out on a planner type of girl, you certainly don’t have to be this thorough to have a plan. Having a “what if” conversation might be all you need to know someone’s final wishes. Even if you don’t have a plan when something unexpected happens you can make one on the fly. A few years ago my parents experienced one of the most unexpected events ever, their house flooded because of a water main break. They are not in a flood zone and the city is not prone to these kinds of incidents (it was not a pipe in their house, it was a main city pipe), but it happened. Talk about something that came out of nowhere. Needless to say they did not have a plan for this. Sometimes it’s all you can do to practice thinking and developing a plan on the fly. Role playing games are a fun way to hone these skills. It’s certainly is not ideal to make a plan on the fly as emotions, anxiety, and other factors come into play but sometimes all you can do is move forward, especially if a situation comes out of nowhere.
Have An Emergency Fund- An easy way to do this is to budget for fun or leisure so you don’t find yourself impulse buying. Also, drop those extra few cents in your pocket into a jar or piggy bank. They add up fast and you’ll have a little cushion in no time. The hardest thing for me is to realize that sometimes my fund gets wiped out and I have to start again. It’s kind of like going getting back on your diet after you've been off of it for a while. It takes some discipline. But knowing it will save you in the end makes it worth it.
Adjust Your Attitude If Necessary- Your attitude is a powerful tool to help you and your family, especially kids, deal with unexpected events. It’s hard to be in a good mood if you’re house is destroyed or have a pleasant disposition when interviewing for a job you’re over-qualified for, but being aware that your attitude rubs off and also can affect your health might persuade you to try to find the silver lining in a situation. Before I had kids, I honestly didn't consider my attitude one way or the other. Sometimes it was good, other times not so much. Now that I’m a mother and a role model for my kids, I am aware that when my kids watch me deal with a situation, I am modeling how they should deal with similar situations in their own lives. There is nothing more sobering than seeing your child react badly to a situation and seeing a reflection of your own behavior in their reaction!
It’s OK To Get Angry- There is a difference between being angry at a situation that just happened 10 minutes ago and having a bad attitude for days, months or even years. Anger is a natural reaction and it’s also a release of emotion, stress and panic. However, just because you’re angry doesn't mean you should be out of control or hurtful toward others. When I’m overcome with anger I try to focus on living in the moment and counting my blessings. I also know my kids are watching me and that I’m teaching them how to handle anger.
Take a Breath- This is certainly helpful if you are angry, but even if you’re shocked or overwhelmed taking a breath can help. Sometimes there is no time for emotions, especially in life and death situations. You have to detach a bit to make the smartest decisions; having a plan comes in handy, but even if you have a plan and things get hard taking a step back is often the best thing to do. Relying on your faith can help you focus on finding a purpose and moving forward.
Permit Yourself Time to Cope- If you’re not in an emergency situation take the time to process what’s happening. It might take a few days or a few weeks and everyone copes with stress and anxiety in different ways, but realize you need time to process what’s happening. My mother-in-law almost died of pneumonia a few years ago. She was in the hospital for months. I flung into action and did what needed to be done. I didn't take time to cope with any of the emotions of the situation until after it was over. When those emotions did hit all at once, I realized that I probably should have taken the time to deal with the situation as it was happening. Doing so would have been healthier for me and easier on my family.
Focus on Your Goals And Move Forward- Think about what you want to happen in the future. Ask yourself, “What exactly do I want to happen from this moment on?” In an emergency situation the answer might be: to live. In a non-emergency situation it might simply be to have enough money to fix the car. Focus on what you want to happen and how you can make that happen rather than hows or whys of how you got into the current situation. Setting goals will help you have a positive attitude and help you move forward to make the situation better.
It’s a cliche, I know, but learning to expect the unexpected is a valuable mindset. You might not be ready for everything but if you know you can survive anything it will give you peace of mind and confidence to take on whatever comes your way.
What’s your biggest threat? A few of my friends wrote posts about their greatest threats. Click on over to see what they have to say, but before you go leave me a comment and let me know about the last time you experienced anything unexpected? How did you deal with it?