Mental & Emotional Health

How to Thrive After Personal Tragedy

Most people have experienced something earth-shattering at some point in their lives, be it the death of a loved one, a painful breakup or divorce, or even the deep emptiness that can come from being an empty nester.

Whatever personal hardship you’ve gone through in the past, I have discovered a unique and unlikely method that is helping people everywhere to rebuild their lives with joy and purpose.

I have paired my degrees in Sociology and Architecture to create a life-building plan anyone can follow in my new book, Be the Architect of Your Life: Design, Build, and Start Living a Life Inspired.

When you’ve hit one of life’s deep valleys, you have been given an opportunity to build your life, part two. For me, my husband’s infidelity and our subsequent divorce followed by a decade of failed relationships is what landed me at my own personal rock bottom. When I reached that place, I knew with absolute certainty that I needed to do something differently.

I took my studies in Sociology and Architecture and created The Architectural Method. You can watch the video here. I used it to reimagine and rebuild my own life, and now I am helping others do the same.

Step 1 – Site Study: In order to evaluate your life as your own architect, ask yourself exploratory questions such as:

  • What parts of your life hinder your growth?
  • Are you hanging onto things (whether physical or emotional) that keep you rooted in the past and unable to begin anew?
  • What parts of your life do you wish you could change?

Step 2 – Explore Historical Models: Reflect on which childhood experiences, memories, connections, religion, family traditions and values have impacted you most and which you wish to continue into your new life.

Step 3 – Create a Wish List: Define your goals. Let go of both the hopes and expectations of others and clarify your own inner wishes. 

Step 4 – Absorb: Allow time for your ideas to take shape without judging or trying to define them.

Step 5 – Envision a Vision: Let your vision take form as much as possible before implementing it. Pay attention to what image of your life evolves within you.

Step 6 – Begin to Draw: As you begin to sketch out the details of your vision, let it flow into exciting, even unforeseen directions.

Step 7 – Allow the Vision to Lead: Decisions become easy when they are weighed against the vision you have created. Does this choice empower your vision or lessen its strength?

Step 8 – Definition Is In the Details: See your vision from all angles and consider how it will affect all parts of your life.

Karen Otis is an architect, life builder and author of the revolutionary new book that uses architectural wisdom to rebuild lives from the ground up—“Be the Architect of Your Life: Design Build, and Start Living a Life Inspired.” After her spouse’s infidelity left her world in shambles back in 1999, Karen dedicated her life to her architectural work and her goal of becoming healthy and whole for herself and her children. In doing so, she discovered these two paths were inextricably linked and she began using what she now calls the Architectural Method to face life’s biggest hurdles. Now, Karen is taking the powerful steps for home building that helped her rebuild her life after tragedy and sharing them with the world. Catch her at one of her nationwide speaking events or work with her in one-on-one life-building sessions and group workshops. Karen has a B.A. in Sociology and a Masters Degree in Architecture. She is the mother of two grown kids and lives in Redondo Beach, CA with the love of her life in the home they built together. Learn more at and

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