How to Handle a Crisis With Class

“Oh, fuck!!!”

My friend Kate and I shouted the phrase simultaneously, our mouths hanging open, our eyes staring blankly at the empty space where I’d parked my car an hour earlier.

It was Friday afternoon in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood. I was in town for the weekend visiting Kate who’d just moved from Vancouver. It had been nearly a year since we’d seen each other last, and we were high on life having just enjoyed Kensington Market’s finest fish tacos.

But now, my stomach churning, my heart racing, I was starting to freak out.

My precious Hyundai was towed.

Gone. Poof. Adios. Vanished.

The situation was particularly frustrating because I’d literally just finished explaining how I was determined to leave Toronto without any parking tickets– an elusive goal I’m still chasing.

I paid for parking until 3 p.m. and here I was at 3:12 p.m., without a car.

It definitely sucked.

But within 30 seconds we were actually laughing. I mean c’mon? It’s pretty funny that after giving Kate a long speech about how I was trying to be more responsible with parking my car, I get it towed. What are the odds?

Thankfully, Kate was no newbie to tracking down missing vehicles, having had her own brush with a tow truck this year. We called the number on the parking meter and found out that my car was en-route to a tow lot on the outskirts of town. Then we called an Uber.

An hour later our driver pulled up to J&J Towing in Toronto’s dingy meat-packing district.

The scene was bleak: a massive barbed wire fence surrounded a lot of colourful cars, while the smell of putrid meat filled the air. Yet somehow our questionable surroundings made the adventure funnier.

It cost me $200 bucks to get my car out of the lot. And when I did there was a bright yellow $150 ticket tucked beneath my windshield wiper blade. 

The cost wasn’t ideal, but certainly not the worst thing in the world. Honestly, I feel blessed to be in a place where I can afford a $350 parking blunder.

Bad days are guaranteed to happen – to all of us.  It’s how we step up and handle them that counts.

I could’ve truly freaked out when I discovered my vehicle was MIA. I could’ve gotten all worked up and made a big scene at the tow lot. I could’ve huffed and puffed about paying the fine.  I could’ve let this massively inconvenient situation ruin my whole weekend.

But I didn’t.

Why? I’m not about to let bad vibes bring me down. Helllll to the no.

Freaking out would’ve only made things worse. Not just for me, but for everyone around me.

Allowing external situations to mess with your energy means you’ve stepped out of your power. When you react from a place of anger, fear or stress, you’re not acting from your true self.

Think about it: have you ever been really mad and said things to someone you didn’t mean? Or acted in a way you deeply regret? I’ve been there. It sucks. And it always makes things worse.

Next time you feel yourself starting to freak out, follow these steps to ensure you keep your cool and act with class. Not only will you feel better, you’ll be more equipped to find a solution to your problem – fast.

Remember, you got this. As my mentor Marie Forleo says, “everything is figure out-able.” You are smart enough to get through any sticky situation life throws your way, so long as you believe you can. When you feel yourself starting to freak out, tell yourself, “you got this.” There’s absolutely nothing you can’t handle.

Breathe deeply + slowly. Getting your breathing under control is the quickest way to calm down when you start to feel flustered. Try to inhale for a count of 10 and exhale for a count of 10, until you feel your heart rate dropping and anger subsiding.

Find the silver lining. There’s always a tiny blessing or a nugget of positivity hidden away in really negative situations. You’ve just got to look for them. Maybe it’s humour? Or the badass new skill you learn by handling this situation like a boss? Find the blessing or the lesson and things won’t feel so bad.

Focus on the solution. Freaking out totally prevents you from intelligently solving your problem. Once you’ve calmed down and gained perspective, channel all of your efforts into figuring out how to positively move forward. Don’t focus on getting upset or complain. Instead, focus on figuring out how you’re going to get out of this mess on top.

Ask for guidance.  Worry is a prayer for chaos – so get a grip and don’t let your mind wander down “what if” street. Instead, ask for guidance. Say a short prayer or quietly ask the universe for support in solving your problem. Then lean in and listen to your intuition. If you’re calm, cool and collected, you’ll get your answer.

Let it go. Once you’ve made it through your crisis it’s important not to hold onto any resentment or anger. Forgive yourself and anyone else involved, then let it go. Reliving negative experiences or continuing to feel victimized takes you out of your power and drains your energy. Why do that to yourself? You already lived through it once. Let it go so you don’t have to experience it again.

When’s the last time you found yourself freaking out? What steps did you use to handle it with grace? I’d love to know in the comments below!

With love,

Alex