2 Things You Can Do When Things Go Wrong

I am the king of the world.

I was standing on the peak of Montserrat. At 4,055 feet, I felt like I was on top of the Earth.

This trip is going to be great.

And yes, the trip ended up being a memorable one. A very memorable one. But not in a positive way.

things go wrong

I ended up looking like this

Here’s what happened.

A few years ago, I went to Barcelona.

I planned the trip in absolute detail. Everything was just right.

Book a hotel in the city center. Book a flight with Flybe. Go to Birmingham Airport. Take this train to the hotel.

See Sagrada Familia. Visit Picasso Museum. Hit Park Güell. Hike Montserrat. Eat tapas.

My schedule was jam-packed. Perfect.

But if you travel, you know things never go that smoothly.

After enjoying the breathtaking view at the peak, I began to hike back down.

I slipped and hit a rock.

Luckily, I only scratched my forearm. But the wound was deep. It was gushing blood. Because I was still near the peak, there’s no way I can take care of the wound right then and there.

To be honest, I was a little worried that I would be infected.

Did it hurt? Of course. But the pain wasn’t the problem – it was the fact that I had to take care of this wound for the rest of my trip.

Even though the wound turned out okay and the blood stopped that night, I was still frustrated with this turn of events.

But my misfortune didn’t end there.

How I Hopped Around Barcelona On One Foot

The next day, when I was walking on the streets of Barcelona, I noticed there was something wrong with my shoes.

My right shoe, particularly. The sole of the shoe was peeling off from the heel.

What the heck?

I had to twist my foot with each step, so that my heel would land on the now-precariously-hanging sole, instead of the bare ground.

I was on my way to Park Güell. I still had to walk for quite some time. This was not good.

Then the worst happened.

While I was walking, the sole of my shoe literally flew off to the other side of the street.

I was only left with one shoe, in the middle of a bustling square.

Drawing quite of a bit of attention, I hopped my way into the nearest thing that resembled a store, which turned out to be the official store of FC Barcelona.

I bought a pair of flip-flops. I only put the right one on.

things go wrong

Ready for Barcelona fashion week

Problem solved? I wish.

That thing was rough. The strap edges kept cutting into my skin. The more I walked, the more painful it got. My foot was now developing blisters.

That, along with the reopened wound on my forearm, and ankle pain that came with the twisted walking, I finally gave up. I staggered into the first cafe I could find, and sat down.

I had to stop. I was basically crippled now.

My trip is ruined, I thought to myself.

How did the trip end up? I’ll tell you about it later. (Spoiler: I also had diarrhea on my way back to England, in mid-air.)

But first, understand this:

Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Seriously, who doesn’t want things to go smoothly?

You have a date with your dream girl tonight. If everything goes right, you are going to charm her, get married, have beautiful kids, and live together happily ever after.

You have an interview for an important position in a big company. If everything goes according to plan, you are going to be hired for your genius, get rich, and eventually take over the company.

But the thing is, things don’t go according to plan 99.9% of the time.

In science, there is a term called the Murphy’s Law, which basically means “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. This cannot be truer for life.

Just hours before your hot date, you get sick with fever. Now you face a dilemma. If you cancel the date, chances are, you may never hear from her again. Now, what should you do?

You are dressed impeccably for the interview, looking your best. You rehearsed all your lines. The job is in the bag.

And yet, just before you walk into the interview room, you spilled coffee on your suit. You are now in panic. You forget all your lines. And you look like a clumsy idiot. Now, what should you tell the interviewers?

You Will Do Things You Have Never Done Before

Just when you think everything is going smoothly, life always finds a way to mess things up.

You know that feeling. It’s so frustrating. I know, it doesn’t feel good.

The good news?

When things go wrong, you are put through extreme stress. Now, you have only two options. Solve the problem, or endure a dreadful outcome.

Your mind goes full throttle. Every cell of your body is called up to perform. This is a sign you are using your body and mind to their maximum capacity.

All of a sudden, you will find yourself looking at things from a completely new angle, and doing things you have never done before.

After much strategizing, you may find yourself actually cancelling the date with your dream girl. Of course, you didn’t want to. You never cancel dates with girls.

But by cancelling the date, you figure you may actually set the tone of the relationship right.

Even if this relationship doesn’t work out, at least you signaled you are not needy. You value and respect yourself more than a date. She might like you even more because of this.

After trying to clean your shirt in vain, you walked in to the room. You go in and address the elephant in the room right off the bat. You sounded strangely secure and assured.

By nature, you are very insecure – you have never been this confident and humorous. Of course, you are just faking, and you nearly peed your pants. But the interaction actually went better than you expected.

How to Fix a Situation Even If You Can’t Fix It

True, not everything is fixable.

Maybe there is an accident on the highway to the airport, and you are going to be late no matter what.

Maybe your hand slipped and you dropped your phone into the toilet, and you have no way to restore the data.

Maybe your humor and confidence didn’t work, and you didn’t get the job in the end.

It sucks when you can do nothing about the situation, especially when things went terribly wrong.

But if you can’t change the outside, you can always to change the inside.

As mere human beings, we don’t always have power to influence outside events. But one thing we will always have complete control over, is our state of mind.

When things go wrong and you can’t do anything about it, it is time to manage your emotions. If there is a time to practice mindfulness and rational thinking, this is it.

When you feel frustrated, angry, or exasperated, just slow down. Watch your emotions. Let them come, and let them run their own course.

Talk to yourself rationally. You are going to be fine.

Accept the situation, and let the chips fall where they may.

So you see, even if you can’t really do anything, you can still learn to manage your own emotions, transforming the ordeal into a valuable experience.

This is how you grow. Sort of like, when you work out, you have to lift weights, give your muscles a little tension, and maybe tear them up a little bit.

Of course you will feel stressed and exhausted. That’s the whole point. Without tension, your muscles won’t grow.

So is your spiritual life. The more you face challenges and difficulties, the more you learn.

And don’t ever think things won’t go wrong twice – because they will. But when that time comes, you will be more prepared. You already have that experience in your toolbox.

What If Everything in Your Life Went Smoothly?

You were born in a wealthy family. You were given the best education. You got the highest grade in every exam. You got a prestigious position in your family business right after graduation. Your salaries went higher and higher every year.

Every day was so uneventful. Time flies. Even if you look successful, truth is you are just bored with life.

That is, until your company filed for bankruptcy.

Now you are jobless. No one wants you. Your family is broke. Your friends don’t want to see you. Now what do you do?

You are overwhelmed. You have no idea what to do. You had no experience dealing with challenges before. You simply give up.

This is why when things go wrong, you should be glad. It prepares you for the worst to come. And when it does, you already have tons of experience to back yourself up.

You learn the most when things go wrong. So start treating it as a blessing from God. This is your time to grow.

Exhaust all your brain power. Think outside the box. Solve the problem at all costs.

And even if you can’t, don’t get frustrated – actually no, it’s okay to be frustrated. Just remember to stop, and fill your soul with mindfulness. This is how you learn to manage your emotions in the heat of the moment.

The Specks of Light I Saw in the Sunset of Spain

If my shoe didn’t fly off, I am not really sure if I can still remember that trip so vividly right now.

After all, if things went smoothly, all I would have done was just visiting some attractions that everybody went to.

Now that I was virtually crippled, I didn’t have to catch up anymore. I was allowed to enjoy a cup of green tea in a quiet corner of Barcelona.

The sun was setting. I decided it was time to go. I stood up. Instead of heading to Park Güell, I walked down an alley at a snail’s pace.

In the end, I didn’t visit most attractions. No Park Güell, no Sagrada Familia, no Camp Nou.

But then, I got to study every alleyway, every Spanish face, and every speck of sunlight reflecting off the bits and pieces of Barcelona, in such detail that I could never forget.

How to Be Mindful When Things Go Wrong

When things go wrong, you will probably let your anger and frustration take over you, especially when you have no way to actually solve the problem.

Truth is, you can only change how you feel when you are mindful and aware. Meditation is a good starting place if you want to increase your self-control, mindfulness and awareness.

I wrote a super-detailed guide called “Buddhist Meditation Ultimate Guide”. Even better, you can download it right now for free.

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3 Comments

  1. liz says

    OH.MY.GOODNESS. TO me it was the vacation from hell and I can not say that I could ever view it as a positive thing, it sounds like an absolute nightmare, even when I was your age, I would have been in total freak out zone the whole way and would not look back upon it with fond memories.

    Back in 1984 I went to Ireland and had $ 1,000 stolen from me and could not even get back to the States, they had gotten nearly all my money. I am 56 now and I do not look back upon that trip with any fond memories at all. Between being sensitive, fragile and an empath, adversity does not do good things for me as a rule

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