We have all had this happen to us. Something major, challenging happens, unexpected; that changes everything. A job loss. A contractor doesn’t show up when a major issue is present that must be fixed. Unexpected pregnancy. Unwanted weight gain, that crept up seemingly out of nowhere. Betrayal. A major illness. Even death. No matter what it is, it changes everything. And we have no control over it. The only thing we can influence is how we respond, and what we allow the experience to make of us.

It is not so much what happens that matters. Rather, it is how we respond to the event. Will we increase the chaos by reacting, being overly emotional, create more damage—even worse, heighten the negative effects, to create trauma? Or, are we able to respond in ways that can harness the energies of the predicament and turn it into new life? And do so with, as little, as possible, emotional charge, and with more reason to be able to predict the best course of action at the present moment that will save us, and affect everything and everyone involved in the least damaging, and most constructive way possible.

When something major, unexpected, and challenging happens. Our immediate reaction is to go into fear most likely. The fear response is imbedded in us since going back far throughout generations. On the flip side, with so much information available today, we can equip ourselves with skills, and tools to build resilience and a solid mindset, that we can trust to support us, no matter what waters life has us sail.

Here are a few things I know to be useful that have helped me to survive (yes literally) dark times, and challenges, at the time I could not see a way out of. Some of these things are:

Take charge, immediately, in any given situations. Take charge. Do not give your power away, you will need every bit of it. Acquire the support you need, but do not give your power away to any of these. Know that, whatever has to be done you can and you will do it and more When you commit yourself to a situation and a certain outcome, you have an increased chance to succeed as opposed to when your stance is in fear and hesitance. So take charge, commit to a resolution you want, and position yourself to do whatever it takes to get there.

Take care of yourself. It may seem like a little thing, even insignificant. But this can make the biggest difference. You may even hear yourself say, ‘I can wait, until this is resolved.’ No, it can’t, and it should not. You are a living organism, what you put into you, is what you become. Environment, thoughts, food, drinks, it all matters. When you are stressed, have poor sleep hygiene, do not exercise, practice unhealthy lifestyle habits, drink alcohol, smoke etc, you may not think, but you decreasing your capacity to function well. Your mind will lack focus, your body will be stagnant, and your emotions can easily get the best of you, causing you to become reactive, and act in ways that can hurt you in the long run. Pay attention to how you live, increase self-care in every way you can. Love yourself as best as you can through it all.

Take inventory of the company you keep. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. It is true at all times. Nothing could be more crucial than this, especially at the time of great challenges. That is the time we can feel afraid to reach out, or uneasy about the fact that we are actually in need of support, we are scared and need guidance that we can trust. Do your best to find and surround yourself with amazing, positive, trustworthy people who have integrity and you can rely on all around. Model their strength and success in the areas you need to grow in. You will get through what you have to get through faster, and grow in constructive ways. It is a must.

When you hit a choice point, always choose yourself first. In that very moment you will have began the path to success. Your success.