Category Archives: Coping with hardship


Crushed Cans

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. – Stephen Covey

There are a lot of things in life that mess with our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth, if we let them:

  • The end of a relationship
  • The loss of a job
  • Having to accept a new job for less pay
  • Having to upgrade skills because our skill-set hasn’t kept up with changing times
  • A less than stellar score on a test or performance review
  • Petty gossip about us
  • Betrayal
  • A snide remark from someone we respect
  • Negative criticism from someone we respect
  • Lack of appreciation for our efforts

 The list is really endless but what these situations share in common is that they arrive in our psyche from our external environment.

 Since we are only human, the usual, knee-jerk reaction to such situations is to feel hurt and/or angry with a sense of rejection, abandonment, sadness, loss, and/or frustration.

 And really, it’s OK to give in to that initial reaction, temporarily.


Policy. That’s right, policy. Corporations have policies (and procedures), why not individuals?

 Because I am the CEO of my own life, I choose to set a policy for dealing with life’s less pleasant side.

 Here’s my policy:

 I can’t control the external environment but I can control my internal environment. I choose to do so by intentionally deciding to take nothing personally.

This isn’t always easy, but it’s far better for me to take charge and manage external events, because to do otherwise is to allow external events to become internal events as well, and in the process, weaken and poison my belief in myself as well as damage my ability to move forward.

 Here’s my procedure:

  •  Allow myself an initial, emotional reaction
  •  Ascribe adjectives to my initial reaction in order to understand my exact feelings, which allows me to control my reaction, instead of it controlling me
  •  Allow myself a second, analytical reaction to the situation
  • Define and describe the situation
  • Outline what lessons I can take away from the experience
  • Determine my next moves to distance myself from the situation
  • Take the first step away from the situation

Having a policy and a procedure for tough breaks ahead of time allows me to take action, which in turn, allows me to take control of my thoughts and distance myself from unpleasantness, while simultaneously coming away from the circumstance not empty-handed, but with new insight and knowledge.

It’s a funny thing about those moments in our lives when we feel at our lowest; when we feel crushed, devastated and defeated. Those moments are exactly where we take our first steps toward new progress in our lives; when we choose to take nothing personally and when we switch from victim to student.

Those are the moments when we feel we can’t, but then we take a deep breath, and know we can.

I’d love to hear from you. Please share your strategies for coping with hardships in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

 Cynthia Dalton signature