Mental & Emotional Health

How Do You Handle Life’s Detours?

The loss of a job . . . a bad break-up . . . a nasty accident . . . a new, obsessive habit . . . a big move to a new town . . . health problems experienced by you or a loved one – these are some of the many events that can turn your life upside down. These are life’s detours that you don’t expect.

Could there be a good way to respond to such turns in life? Is it honest to “look on the bright side?” Isn’t the root feeling hurt?

“I don’t think most people could ask you to deny your feelings, but you don’t have to be led by the nose by feelings, which have a primary characteristic of being temporary,” says Steve Gilliland (, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of the recently released “Detour,” the follow-up to his widely acclaimed “Enjoy The Ride.”

“Life is change – it’s axiomatic. Most of us accept this on an intellectual, abstract basis. But when it comes to experiencing change, we often resist it. Fear of change causes immense yet unnecessary suffering. Personal growth and maturity are based largely on how you respond to life’s unexpected detours.”

Gilliland summarizes a few basic steps to dealing with life’s detours:

•  Ask yourself about opportunity. We don’t like most of life’s detours because they force us out of our comfort zone. New duties at work or a request from a spouse may not only pique our defenses but also make us wonder, “Can I do this?” Fear and anxiety may push us to focus on our weaknesses and convince us of what we cannot do. When we make a simple shift in mentality, however, we can empower the beginning of personal growth by seeing unprecedented challenges as opportunities.

•  Are you willing to change? If not, then you can’t see opportunity. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. If your spouse asks you for a more patient attitude, for example, will you grow with an open heart or dig your heels in? He or she may not divorce you if you remain stubborn, but your relationship will likely flounder. Seeing a challenge as an opportunity enables self-improvement. And, when it’s time to ask something of your spouse, you will have currency with which to work? The same principle applies to work. If you’re asked to take on a new responsibility and respond well, you will gain leverage in your career.