Wendy's Blog

How to keep from capsizing, no matter how stormy your seas

by Wendy Keller, mother, writer, person who cares

Feel like you’re just about to slip under the storm that is your life?  If the Coast Guard is running late, here are  FOUR strategies that will allow you to build your own “life raft” to get through the gale.

Determine to survive. No matter who died or what happened, there’s no nobility in going down with the ship. Other humans at some point in history have survived a set of problems quite similar to yours. They may not have gone on to win the Nobel prize or launch a publicly traded company, but they survived.  If even just one of us can do it, so can you.  There’s no special trick anyone else knows that you can’t access.

Assess your resources without delay!  Do you have any friends, money, a roof over your head, people who love you enough to help you, any marketable skills, anything you can sell to create some ready cash, social services that can help you? Swallow your pride and step inside.”  Immediately take advantage of whatever resources you can.  The idea of emergency resources is that we use them to get us through a terribly rough patch, not that we rely on them forever.  Use these as a life preserver while you put together your “life raft” – the method that can carry you back to safe harbor.  The biggest reason people drown in life is because they let their pride, their judgment (of themselves, of others, of God, of how “Things Should Be” or “The Kind of Person I Am”) keep them from asking for and getting the help they need before things are dire.  GET HELP NOW!  Toss your ego overboard.  Let go of things that are stopping you, even if letting go is painful. Maybe it’s that you love someone who is dead, or who doesn’t love you, or who has hurt you repeatedly. Use every means you can to let go so you can survive!  I remember when I was about 14, my parents went through a rough time financially and my mother was so sad to sell a beautiful set of antique hand-painted dessert plates that had belonged to her beloved grandmother.  It broke her heart, but she let go and was able to put food on the table.  What are you resisting? What you resist, persists.  See what you’ve got and make a firm decision to use it to your advantage TODAY.

Look for the opportunity – right here and right now. I hate this one as much as you do!  But it’s invariably true.  There’s always opportunity hidden in adversity. If you’ve been unemployed for too long, maybe this is your Opportunity to learn a new skill or better yet, start your own business;  if you’re mired in the aftermath of a bloody divorce, this is an obvious opportunity to straighten yourself out physically and emotionally and choose better next time;  if you’re living trapped in the anguish of grief, there’s an opportunity right now to learn self-care and compassion toward others.  Seize the opportunity and focus on it.  It’s amazing how focusing on opportunities can blow up into one of those auto-inflating yellow emergency life boats if you put your attention on it!

Keep moving your legs. Technically, swimming isn’t all that complicated. (OK, doing it as well as Michael Phelps is!)  But it is when you stop that you drown.  If you’re able to grab a gulp of air now and then, you’ve got a chance to get through this. Keep moving. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working, try something else!  If your way of insisting the world should be isn’t delivering that world to you, either re-assess your vision or take powerful, strong action to transform it.  Don’t let yourself down!  Don’t let yourself drown!  It’s always darkest before the dawn. The search parties will be back looking for you in the morning.  Hang on – use every last shred of willpower and energy you’ve got in your fierce determination that you will survive and things will get better. Only you can save you!  Swim to win!

Obviously, I’m well aware that some readers are facing insurmountable, unconquerable problems that will never get better.  I got it.  My kids are dead and they’re not coming back, no matter how much I want it to happen.  An amputee’s leg isn’t coming back.  Your grandma or your lost investment or your run-over cat isn’t coming back.  Tough luck for all of us.  These types of things can compound, creating a perfect storm of “bad stuff”.  They make us lose sight of the shore and feel adrift in a tumultuous sea, in the dark, in the cold, with no apparent hope.

Nonetheless: Hold on. Stick it out.  Keep moving.  Keep your eye out for the opportunity to be saved. Take the help others or the world can offer you.  Be humble! Be brave! Keep swimming!  You CAN get through this!  There is evidence that people have and they have gone on to live decent, stable, even happy lives. Now it’s your turn.

Your life will NOT always be like this. There IS hope.

Get yourself a copy of Wendy Keller’s FREE ebook

“The Top Ten Tips to Coping with Crisis” today!


  1. Alicia Fehdrau says:

    You are so awesome!!!! I love to read your stories, you have such a way of putting things into perpective. With all that you have gone through, you take the time to help others get through their ugly junk.
    Thanks a Million 🙂 God Bless You!!!

  2. Dear Wendy, I hv recently come across your blog,and I’m hooked ! You have such a wonderful way of putting things in the right perspective…compassionate and firm, the ‘no nonsense’approach makes me straighten my back and face my challenges 🙂 I was working and financially independant all of my life, then 3 years ago I gave that up to follow my dream but it bombed…I got overwhelmed with the challenges, and then my self-worth,self esteem took a severe beating and slowly gave up and went down. Since then I’m struggling to keep my head above the waters so to speak….I’m yet to figure out what it is I want to pursue to start earning and regain my own self respect( I’m feeling completely useless now)…..But I’m going to Fight this inertia . So Thanks for your thoughts and articles,I feel I hv someone to relate to finally….

    • Dear Usha,

      Having owned businesses all my life, I personally relate to how painful it is when one goes bust. I know it is a unique and very painful grief. I think that’s why so many people never pursue their dreams – they think, “If it bombs, what will I have left to hope for?” As a literary agent, I’m partly responsible for deciding which books will eventually get published. We reject more than 99% of everything we’re offered, like all agents do. But I always wonder what happens to the would-be authors? Do most of them learn from the rejections, change their book, their content or their approach, and try again? I suspect not. Most of them give up, or get peevish or even grouchy. I get a lot of angry emails about my “short-sightedness”. I think the difference between those who “win” and those who “fail” in life is how many times you get back up. You can do it, Usha!

      Sending love and good wishes,

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