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How to Deal With a Curve Ball

We could quite easily rename 2020 the year of the curve ball, and even after a few months of practice we're still figuring out how best to handle the unexpected and disruptive. After life served me an even wilder curve ball than the pandemic, I'm sharing my best tips on how to help yourself.

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I can’t imagine there are many people who haven’t received a few curve balls so far this year. In day to day life, in business and at school, we’ve had to adapt, improvise and stay on our toes as things around us change.

It’s been an opportunity to put into practice many things I’ve learned over the past few years, and I’ve become acutely aware of how much I still have to learn, and the importance of continuing to put it all into practice. 

A couple of months ago life threw me a very unexpected and challenging curve ball, which impacted me physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.  I’m grateful to be on the other side of it now, but despite my best efforts, it took me out of the game for a while.  

Here are a few things I’ve learned from the experience that I hope might help you if you find yourself in a similar place:

  • Allow yourself to be where you are.  Avoidance and denial don’t help.  You are where you find yourself, and accepting this is the first place to start.
  • Take your time.  It’s useful to remember your bigger dreams, goals and plans but when you’re dealing with a curve ball, you might have to bring your focus in to the short term.  Take it all day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.
  • Talk about it. I know a lot of people have a habit of going inward when things are tough, and I’ve never heard any of them say that this approach helped them. Talk to friends, loved ones or maybe even random strangers on the internet!  Consider expert help as well – I hired a couple of coaches to help me work through things constructively and to help me step outside of myself to gain new perspectives.
  • Know that there is something in it for you. Hard as it might feel in the moment, hold on to the knowledge that you can learn and grow from the experience.  I always remind myself that life is happening for me, not to me. My recent experience has given me huge insights into a part of myself – and others- that I had barely considered before, and I feel certain there is more benefit to come. Even when I was feeling terrible on many levels, I was determined to take something good from the situation.
  • Remember that nothing is static. Life is full of peaks and troughs, and it’s unrealistic to expect to go through life without curve balls, upsets and challenges.  Even the toughest of times won’t last forever, and better days are ahead. 
  • Be really good to yourself. This is ultra-important, but it’s not always easy.  Even with everything I’ve learned about myself and all the tools and resources I’ve gathered in my work and studies, I found this one slipping.  Working with a coach helped me realise I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, feeling guilty about what I was experiencing, and believing I ‘should’ be able to get through it more easily.  In short, I defaulted to an old pattern of beating myself up.   We’re clever creatures, we humans, and we’ll slip into old habits pretty quickly, particularly when defences are down.  Once I recognised what was going on I was able to be much more forgiving of myself, starting with allowing myself to be where I was (and circling right back to the top of this list).

For many of us, this year we’re dealing with more curve balls than ever before, and they’re coming at us from all directions. I share these insights in the hope that one day, if you need them, they will be of help. 

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