Seneca once said, "If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes."
This ties in with the Stoic practice of praemeditatio malorum, the premeditation of evils. We can prepare for the worst through voluntary discomfort and negative visualization.
You may also want specific plans for what to do when tragedy strikes. Do you know what you will do if you get fired? If you lose a loved one? If you find out that you have a terminal illness?
If you don't know the answer to these questions, that should give you pause.
Setting aside a few hours to write out what you will do when the worst happens can save you and others countless more of lot of anguish. I’ve done this and structured things this way:
- Remind myself what is important and valuable, even if things have changed.
- What is worth fighting for in life? Whatever it is, it’s still here.
- Immediate actions:
- Quick practical steps to avoid losing my head. It can be easy to be overwhelmed with emotion at those times and do something I later regret at these times. Exercise has saved me from doing stupid things in the past.
- Reminders to reach out to others. Calls to make, etc.
- Recovery Plan:
- Give myself space to grieve. As Seneca says, "you may weep, but do not wail."
- Have a recovery plan. I've wasted weeks in response to a breakup. I've known people who have lost years to alcoholism after the death of a partner. I can sympathize with that response. But it's not how I want to respond. Set yourself up to grow from hardship, not be defeated by it.
- Even if you lose a loved one, you have other loved ones. Ensure they are cared for.
A plan won't solve all problems. In fact whatever you write, it will likely be misguided in various ways. But as Eisenhower quipped, "No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one."
Once you've done this, you can feel grateful that the tragedy hasn't happened yet. And, especially if you've been thinking about losing loved once, motivate yourself to be better.