How To Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong

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Last week I experienced a scary situation– I thought I had permanently lost all the articles and links on this website. A web designer I had been working with did some funky things during a hosting transfer, and the result was a perfect storm of negligence —the site was down, all my passwords were changed, and the designer I had paid to do this was not responding to me. For hours I was sitting on the realization that the all content on here might be lost…just like that!

During this time I went through all of the emotions: anger, fear, sadness, despair, etc…this blog has been a huge component of my life for the last 120 days and I have spent hundreds of hours

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working on it. I simply could not believe that it was gone!

Amid my deepest moments of hopelessness, I decided to purposefully snap myself out of it. I would like to share with you the process I took myself through, as it helped me transmute my fears and inactivity into optimism and productive action. This process can be implemented anytime something goes terribly wrong in your life:

Sit with the feelings

The first thing I did was pull myself off the couch, and force myself to sit in stillness with the feelings coursing through me. I tried my hardest not to dwell within the emotions, but observe them as if from the outside. I noticed I had a lot of anger towards the designer, and I was thinking he maliciously did this to me. I also noticed that I felt like a victim of a crime, and felt very sad that all my hard work was taken away from me so needlessly.

Observing these feelings gave me a sense of perspective on the situation, and I started to realize that the emotions, even though they were very strong, were completely self-perpetuated. This ultimately gave me a deep sense of relief.

Surrender

Once I felt relieved, I surrendered to the situation. This does not mean I gave up, or dedicated myself to non-action, it means that I came to the understanding that the situation “is what it is” and that no matter what happened I was going to be able to deal with it. Surrendering to a circumstance that goes awry is very powerful because it relieves the anger and frustration that so easily arises. Furthermore, surrendering in this manner also creates focus and gives the mind a greater ability to find a solution.

Prepare yourself for the worst case scenario

Once I was relieved and surrendered, I said to myself: “OK, so what’s the worst thing that can happen here”. I decided that my worst-case was that all the content I had created on We The Change was gone forever, and all the thousands of links throughout the web pointing to my articles would now be dead links. OK, so I can deal with that. I would just start over, and start creating an even better experience of WTC. And people will still enjoy it, and contact me, and it would still be a meaningful website!

Start taking action: do what’s most important

Once I had effectively shifted my mindset regarding the situation, I began acting. Instead of acting out of fear for losing the site (which I no longer had), I acted with the mindset “what can I do right now to make this situation better”. I decided I needed to call both hosting companies and explain my situation in great detail….they are human beings, like me, and will understand what I

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am going through if I just explain it calmly and clearly. Second, I called another web guy I work with and decided that I would do whatever it takes to motivate him to help me. I was on the right path, I could feel it.

Forgive

The last piece of advice I can give you when things go terribly wrong is to forgive. For me, I forgave the web designer who I thought had totally screwed me. I forgave the hosing companies who I thought were incompetent. And I forgave myself for wasting time and acting so unconsciously. Again, the situation “was what it was”, and the hours I had spent stressing were meaningless and counter-productive. So I forgave.

In the end, I was able to get this website is back up and running. Although I am certainly happy about this, I am even more encouraged by the lesson I taught myself through the ordeal—that it is only as bad as we allow ourselves to make it, and that no matter what happens we have the ability to deal with it. Simply sit with the feelings, surrender to the situation, prepare yourself for the worst, act without fear, and forgive!

When something terrible happens to you, and you think it’s the end of the world, read this article or give yourself a reminder in your own personal way that no matter what happens you can (and inevitably will) deal with it…

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42 Responses to “How To Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong”

  1. interesting experience. I must admit it is something I fear happening.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks Tejvan– let me say this, make sure that your hosting company backs up their websites every night…this is a MUST.

  3. Hi Todd, I am so happy everything worked out for you. I really enjoyed your article. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment when something “negative” happens. Your tips give a VERY healthy way to deal with ANY “bad” situation. Thank you! Gratefully, Jenny

  4. Peter says:

    I noticed some crazy stuff happening with this site last week. Great to have the “We The Change” we all know and love back in action :)

  5. Todd says:

    Thanks Jenny…much appreciated. And Peter, yea, it was some bad crazy stuff going on here, and glad to be back :)
    TG

  6. I’ve been there myself…too many times to count. It’s not easy learning how to cope, but once I finally realized that some things are just out of my control, it becomes easier each time to deal and move on. Great post! :)

  7. Akemi says:

    Oh, Todd, I feel for you. And you dealt with your situation so well.
    Funny I am reading this post this morning because I had my own panic last night. I found out Akismet plugin had been categorizing some perfectly good comments and trackbacks as spams! I retrieved what I could, but I guess some old ones are gone. I feel so bad for my readers!
    Okay, it’s Monday morning — let’s start feeling fresh.

  8. As far as I know my hosting company does backups every night, but I also do my own backups once a week. It doesn’t take long to do…you might check with your service to find out how to do it. It pays to be a bit paranoid because things can go wrong with them, too.

    Thanks for the great post. I’m stumbling it. :)

  9. Todd says:

    Thanks for the comments guys….and I would double and triple check that your hosting company does bac-ups nightly. I would also get with a reliable hosting company…
    TG

  10. Jane says:

    If you have your health! But, clearly after that, lost data is the absolute worst. glad it all worked out. JHC

  11. Coryan says:

    Wow! I recently went through the same thing when I was transferring my blog to a new host. My database somehow was corrupted and I lost all of my data (blogs, etc.). My hosting provider was less than helpful and I couldn’t afford the $150 to have them reinstall their backup. (I had a backup, but it was no good.)

    Anyway, long story short, I was able to recover all of my posts from other sources on the Net (thanks Google). I went through most of the same feelings you described and the hardest part was looking pass everything and moving forward when I thought months of work was lost.

    Your post is very helpful at seeing how we must deal when things go wrong. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Todd says:

    Thanks Jane and Coryan– man, I’m glad I brought this topic up….a LOT of bloggers seem to have these fears :)
    TG

  13. dgm says:

    Automatic backups with preiodic restoration testing means never having to feel this way.

  14. lisa says:

    Thanks!! I needed to see this today.

  15. Todd says:

    dgm– I will make sure to never feel that way again :)

    Lisa– no worries….a lot of people were feeling the same way I guess…synchronicity?

  16. QuasiPreneur says:

    Similiar thing but worse.. I divx’d my entire 600 DVD collection onto a Maxtor One Touch III Turbo 1TB ext. USB drive. Took me 3yrs to rip/compress all of them. I just bought 2 of these Maxtor drive recently. I MOVED from different places ALL the movies onto one of the Maxtor. For this instance there was only one copy. Then proceeded to back a mirror copy onto the 2nd ext. Maxtor.. when at 5%.. the first Maxtor FAILED.. I unfortunately had it RAID 0.. one of the internals went bad.

    DO NOT BUY THESE MAXTOR EXT. USB DRIVES!!!!

  17. Brad Baggett says:

    Thanks for sharing the experience. I am sure that many fellow blogger, including myself, have experienced these same type frustrations with networks, hosting companies, programs, etc. I have never had anything quite so extreme happen, but I have wanted to vent many times over little hang-ups. Great instructions on how to deal with the situation, keep up the great work, it is nice to have you back. I thought you were just doing a simple mode last week and having a couple problems, I never knew it was a serious issue!

    http://www.JuiceofChampions.com

  18. Todd says:

    Brad it WAS serious man….and glad its over. Quasi– these types of disturbances can happen in a myriad of areas, not just web-related things…I hope you see the advise applies universally?
    TG

  19. Ellie Walsh says:

    Love your post – the steps you describe enable me to take back my power — Whether the situation is crummy or not – I do not have to let it rule how I feel!

    Options – I have options – I could start all over – I could email some folks and see if they have any of my articles – I could kill the web designer – Oops! that was a bit of a backward slide ;)

    Glad to see it all worked out for you! I use the wordpress backup plugin and have a backup emailed to me every week.

    Thanks for a great post!

  20. Christian says:

    My database is backed up and e-mailed to me daily! If you don’t already have this WordPress plugin then get it now – http://www.ilfilosofo.com/blog/wp-db-backup/

    Christian

  21. Todd says:

    Thanks Christian…this is very helpful! And Ellie, thanks for the nice comments!

  22. Alex Shalman says:

    I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing losing the whole site. I tend to do backups every now and than to ensure that wouldn’t happen. However, I’ve had a few close calls with working on an article for a couple of hours, and than thinking I lose it due to a glitch. Luckily wordpress autosaves things!

  23. Kristian says:

    What really stood out to me in your article was the meditative process you employed. I admire how you were able to view your emotions from the outside. This gave you the perspective and the power to control your emotions.

    One of the struggles that I think our society currently deals with is the idea that we are our emotions. Or it’s cousin if it feels good then do it.

    You proved here that we are not our emotions rather we are the response we choose to take to our emotions. And your response is one to be admired.

  24. Todd says:

    Alex– Lucky you man, lucky you…thats all I can say!

    Kristian, thank for for the kind words. I really did learn something about myself through the experience and why the article has been so well received, I guess…

    Thanks again,
    Todd

  25. Thanks for the reminder… I’m going to back-up my stuff right now!

    Glad everything worked out for you!

  26. [...] Goldfarb presents How To Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong posted at We The [...]

  27. Pastor Fred says:

    Todd,
    What a wonderful experience, and a great lesson. I recently preached a messege alone the same thought. If you’d like to read it I’ve posted it on my blog.
    http://www.pastorfredsthoughts.blogspot.com
    You are welcome to link to me on your website. Have a blessed day!

  28. Jason Simon says:

    Todd,

    Excellent post! I lost half my thesis a few months before it was due, and I can relate. In these situations, I try to maintain an openness towards difference. I write about this concept at http://opentodifference.com.

    – Jason Simon
    think open, think different

  29. Todd says:

    Thanks Pastor Fred and Jason….I will DEF check out both of your websites…they sound interesting!
    Todd

  30. [...] How To Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong 50 Ways You Can Be The Change The Benefits of Flexible Goal Setting [...]

  31. Ruppi says:

    I’m glad your post has stimulated the minds of others and has allowed them to understand how to deal with a bad situation. However, I must add my two cents and let everyone know that there are worse things than losing data! Your readers have posted about how you’re lucky for getting your data back, and how it is absolutely the worst to lose data. What if you really had lost your data, then would you have felt the same way? And lets go beyond losing data. What about losing your house in a fire, how do you deal with that? Whom do you forgive? How about losing a loved one? How do you deal with that? Whom do you forgive? I write this not to put your article down. I am simply saying that there are worse things than losing your data, and that your readers should try and grasp the inner meaning of the post. Thank you. I look forward to your response

  32. Todd says:

    Ruppi– of course I am sensitive to the fact that losing data is NOT the worst thing that can happen to a person. I wrote this article with the hopes of providing recommendations when things go wrong in general. And it can be anything, yes, even including a loved one or a house. Because no matter what the “event” is….life goes on. The important thing is how we deal with it. No matter what it is. This may seem insensitive as many people are addicted to their pain and sadness, and get angry when I suggest there is a way to transcend sadness and pain…even when it is in the realm of big loss. To me, the insanity is holding on to the pain and sadness even though you know there is a way to transcend it.
    I have found sitting in stillness as a way to constantly give myself perspective in life. I find it helps ANY situation greatly. I hope this helps clarify…
    Todd

  33. Ruppi says:

    Todd,
    I hope you didn’t take my comment as a criticism of your article. My motive behind writing the post is exactly what you’ve written-life goes on. I was a bit apprehensive to the fact that your readers may not have understood that real message. Their responses have been entirely dedicated to the idea of losing data. All I’m saying is that there are worse things than losing data, and that your tips (especially the one about sitting alone) go beyond this specific incident. I hope you understand where I’m coming from. I have just faced something that many people will almost never face in their lives, so I know what it feels like to have something go terribly wrong. I was enlightened by your tips. I hope this clears things up for you and hope that you understand my point. Thank you.

  34. [...] How to Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong How to ‘Work a Room’ Like a PRO! How To Find Your True Purpose [...]

  35. Todd says:

    NO not at all Ruppi. I am sorry if I sounded “rough” with you. I am also sorry to hear you are going through, or have gone through, a tough time.
    I hope you were able to get something out of this article and my subsequent recommendations. The way I see it, the external event doesn’t matter so much– it could be spilling a glass of water that gets you upset OR losing loved ones. Its how you deal with it. If you can cultivate habits to deal with one of these scenarios, and move on with contentment, then you can translate it to the other. Losing data was upsetting to me at the time. It was real…it certainly wasn’t life threatening, but it was there.

  36. I was told to breath in, breath out and move on.

    I just lost my blog 14 months old or so and all gone. Little matter, at least I can start clean.

    On the other hand, because of a bad divorce I have not seen my kids for 461 days (as I type). Take things in perspective. Lost data does not matter.

  37. I just bought an external hard drive so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything like this.

    Thank you for your strategies they will help a alot.

  38. My hosting company does nightly, two nightly, weekly, and fortnightly backups and, yes, that is a must.

    However, one never knows if a hosting company will disappear. It has happened.

    They’re very open about recommending everyone keep an offsite backup and aside from usual FTP drag and drop, backing up databases, etc., they give the option of a complete and total automated backup of everything once a month.

    So I have both my WordPress installations send my databases backed up each and every day to a Gmail account. I keep a copy on my computer. I backup to an external hard drive every week or two. And my hosting company has their backup plan.

    All of this doesn’t really take much time once it’s set up right. The database backups to Gmail, for example, happen automatically, daily.

  39. [...] Goldfarb presents How To Cope When Something Goes Terribly Wrong posted at We The [...]

  40. farouk says:

    Great actions you took:)
    i have website and i can imagine how will i feel if this happens!! terrible!!

  41. jade says:

    There is always a lesson in everything and its important to always focus singlemindedly on solutions

  42. Coco says:

    This is great, thanks.

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