Dec 082010
Inner Peace by Tung072

All too often, life can deal us a bad hand that we do not expect. In Hexagram 51, the I-Ching calls these unexpected changes shocks of fate. This shock could be the loss of a job when you have a family to feed. It could also be the loss of your loved ones, home, savings or anything that gives you security. Few of us are prepared to deal with shocks of fate. This is why they unsettle us so deeply when they happen.

During such times, it is easy for us to lose our presence of mind and panic. Yet to give into fear and despair during these crucial moments only compounds /ur problems for us. In the face of a crisis, only a godlike calm and composure will help you to survive the ordeal.

The Retreat of Lu Xun

The Three Kingdoms period (220-280) divided China into three regions. The strongest was the Kingdom of Wei, which controlled the northern half of China. The western part of China belonged to the Kingdom of Shu and the Kingdom of Wu reigned in the East. One of the leading strategists of this period was Lu Xun of Wu. Although he was unable to gain an edge over Wei and Shu, while he lived, Wu remained safe from harm.

In 236, Lu Xun led his troops on a campaign against Northern Wei.k But as luck would have it, the enemy captured his messenger and his plans for battle. Zhuge Jin, a senior general who learned about the capture, wrote to Lu Xun to inform him of the matter and to advise retreat. There was no time to devise a new plan and it was foolhardy to continue with the old one. To worsen matters, the climate changes made it difficult to coordinate an amphibious attack. Retreat seemed to be the best option.

But Lu Xun gave no reply to Zhuge Jin. Instead, he stopped his march and set up camp. Soon an anxious Zhuge Jin arrived to speak with his chief. He was surprised to find out that Lu Xun had been calmly planting beans and playing chess with his subordinates. Aware of his fear, Lu Xun took Zhuge Jin aside and explained his actions. If they fled now, it would cause widespread panic amongst the soldiers who were already uncertain. This would only give the enemy the chance to slaughter them all. But if he kept his cool, his composure would reassure his men and cause the enemy to hesitate because they feared an ambush. Lu Xun went on to make a feint to throw the enemy off guard before he successfully withdrew his forces to safety.

Lu Xun by Wikipedia

The Consequences of Losing Your Cool

War is a dangerous affair. The slightest mistake on the part of the commander could lead to the annihilation of the entire army. These considerations did not make it any easier for Lu Xun when he learned that the enemy had his battle plans. As the leader of his troops, he was the heart and soul of his army. The lives of all his men rested in his hands. If he showed doubt, fear or despair, his men would lose all discipline and the enemy would slaughter them.

When faced with shocks of fate, it is natural to feel fear, panic and despair. But allowing these fears to overwhelm us at these crucial moments has the following consequences.

-Fear can cloud our judgment
-Fear robs us of our objectivity
-Fear causes negative thinking and despair
-Fear can paralyze and cause us to miss crucial opportunities
-Fear can paralyze us, allowing the problem to grow out of hand
-Fear is contagious and can afflict those around us causing mass panic

Have you ever participated in a fire drill? Everyone is supposed to leave the building in an orderly manner. But what if everyone panicked during a real fire? It would lead to chaos that could claim many lives. Similarly, uncontrolled fear in the face of shocks will only harm us.

Meditation by Rubyblossom

The Benefits of Staying Calm

Lu Xun knew that retreat was the best option for him. But he also had enough presence of mind to know that he could not do so in a haphazard manner. As it was, his men knew about the leak of his plans and they were watching him to see how he would act. If he panicked, his men would lose all heart to fight and flee instead of making a stand. Thus, he had to remain calm to show everyone that he had things under control. This helped to buy him time to devise a plan of escape.

It is not easy to stay calm when we face a shock of fate. But the sooner we can master our fears, doubts, despair and panic, the better. Staying calm has many benefits that can help us to resolve any unexpected crisis.

-Calm soothes us and reassures those around us
-Calm nullifies most of the problems caused by fear
-Calm helps us to view the situation with clarity
-Calm gives us the focus we need to find the solutions
-Calm enables us to take action and execute our plans

Lu Xun has shown us that we need to stay calm in the midst of a crisis. Even though everyone else was fearful, he refused to allow it to affect him because he knew what was at stake. He also took care to make every decision calmly instead of letting fear influence him. We would do well to bear his calm and composure in mind when faced with an unexpected crisis.

Taking Action

Staying calm in the face of unsettling change is easier said than done. When shocks of fate confront us, it is likely to stir fear, panic and despair in our hearts. Even so, we have to make an effort to regain our composure as soon as we can. I would not wish shocks of fate on anyone. But if they should occur to us, I hope that we can remember the example of Lu Xun and calmly do what we have to do. If it is not for our sakes, then let it be for the sakes of our loved ones.

Have you ever had any unexpected changes or shocks of fate in your life? How did you deal with it? Are there any other benefits of staying calm that I have missed out? Do share your thoughts and comments below.

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  20 Responses to “Staying Calm to Manage Shocks of Fate”

  1. when life puts you through the, “greater shock” something you are never prepared to face, life really becomes hard to live. the only thing that can get you out of it, is just doing nothing and keeping patience. time will work it out and put you back on track.
    Health Votes recently posted..Health bloggers – Do you Apply What you ReadMy Profile

    • Hi,

      Yes sometimes we need to be patient and wait for time to work things out. But I believe that we should always take active steps to adjust to the new status quo. We should use our energies constructively as the situation demands to practice active instead of passive waiting. Waiting alone is hard as it is. But if we focus our energies on some task while waiting, not only do we work towards resolving the issue at hand, it also helps to get us through this difficult time.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  2. Hi Irving,
    You write some of the most facinating posts! You’re a wonderful teacher. Staying calm is so important. Being stressed or shocked, clouds our judgements. We can walk around in a fog, very unclear of reality. Regaining our composure is crucial. Thanks for this great post!

    Dandy recently posted..Deep breathing techniqes for well beingMy Profile

    • Hi Dandy,

      I am glad you liked the post! Thank you for your compliments! :)

      You’re right, when we are stressed or shocked, we lose our ability to manage events. Even though it is not easy, we should try to regain our composure as soon as we can.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  3. I really like when you go into the history of where it all began, and unlocking these to blend your message of the importance of calmness very well.

  4. Awesome post man. I love the way you nailed the post. Staying calm is the key! Thanks a lot for sharing. Have fun

    BTW: I love that picture (The picture of that Chinese guy)…cool pic man. Thanks

    • Hi Samuel,

      I am glad you liked the post! :)

      Yeah the picture of Lu Xun is pretty cool. Who would have thought a scholar could be so composed under such pressure?

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Farnoosh Brock, Irving. Irving said: Stay calm to handle shocks of fate. [...]

  6. Being calm and centered when faced with difficult issues is always the way to go. YOur example of Lu Xun is a great one. By seeming not to care or be bothered he gave great faith to his followers and prevented what could have been a disaster and minimized loses.

    There is a lesson there for us all.

    It is always easy to SAY to be calm in the face of “exciting times” but often it is easier said and done. this is where preparation can come in. Your mention of fire drills is an important one. Police, the fire departments and the Military who all OFTEN face situations where there may be a need to face incredible danger with calm equanimity TRAIN to make sure they face these situations with ease.

    You may not face the exact situation but when you have done similar “drills” a few times, instinct and training can take over and make things easy.

    these can be done in real life to. Practicing evauation routes at work. Learning and occasionally practicing CPR. Sometimes just taking a moment to think about what would be done if _____X_____ disaster happened.

    It may never completely prepare you but being even slightly familiar can aid in making a person calmer in the face of whatever emergancies befall us.
    Steve@Lifestyle Design recently posted..Get More Blog Traffic Blueprint Week 4My Profile

    • Hi Steve,

      You’re right. It’s not easy to stay calm in exciting times. This is why being prepared through drills and practice helps. It’s true we can never be fully prepared for shocks of fate. I mean what can we do to prepare for the loss of a loved one or home or savings. Learning from the experiences of others, thinking about the possibilities and making preparations where we can helps somewhat. It is the best we can do. And should the shock really happen, we will be in a better position to deal with it.

      Thank you for your comments! You made some great points and elaborated them well! :)

  7. What an interesting article. I loved learning this new phrase “shocks of fate.” I understand shocks of fate – at least very serious ones – to be traumas. You are right, it’s not so easy to stay calm in these situations. Some people develop post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result. Calm is still the answer – or part of it – for post traumatic stress too. Thanks for highlighting calmness.
    Sandra Lee recently posted..Sneaking Up On Willy-Nilly ConsumptionMy Profile

    • Hi Sandra,

      Shocks of fate is a great phrase isn’t it? It conveys so much in just three words. I agree with you that shocks of fate can be serious traumas. Although calm alone isn’t sufficient to deal with trauma, it is still a necessary part of the solution.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  8. Hi Irving,

    Life can throw up unexpected events just when we think everything is ticking along fine. It’s so easy to get into a blind panic and get confused as to what to do next.

    Deliberately taking time out to step back to look at your situation is an excellent skill to have. We can weigh up our options and take advice if we need it. Many mistakes have been made by people being too quick to act in a bout of panic and fear.

    Being calm in the face of a storm gives us the breathing space to act in the best possible way. It comes with practice, but it is possible.
    Scott McIntyre recently posted..The Cautious Person’s Guide to Risk TakingMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      The worst thing about life is that the unexpected can happen at anytime. I agree with you that people make mistakes when they act out of panic and fear. But if we practice calm on a daily basis, it becomes easier to remain calm when we need to be.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  9. I enjoyed your use of Chinese history in demonstrating the importance of staying calm.

    Lu Xun sounds like a fascinating person.

    I agree with your assertion that staying calm is optimal when shock occurs. Staying calm allows us to deal with the situation in an optimal way. It allows us to think things through and act responsibly.

    And, perhaps, it allows us to suffer less when shocking events occur.

    • Hi Bamboo Forest,

      I am glad you enjoyed reading the story of Lu Xun. He is one of my favourite characters from the Three Kingdoms. If you found him fascinating, you may enjoy reading the novel itself.

      Staying calm is necessary when it comes to shocks. Rarely do we make good decisions when we are in a state of fear and panic. I think that we are likely to suffer less if we stay calm because we make less mistakes and better manage the situation.

      Thank you for your comments! :)

  10. [...] reduce some stress going into the holiday season Irving gives us some lessons on the importance of staying calm.   As a final mention to the coming holidays, Mark urges us to begin to think about New Year’s [...]

  11. The other day I watched the Korean Film “Old Boy” and there was a line somewhat like this, “Human Beings have imaginations, so there comes fear.”

    Your lovely post also reminded me, “Don’t make fear more than it is” ;)

    Good post, Vizier :)
    sandy recently posted..It’s not all about efficiency…we also have lifeMy Profile

    • Hi Sandy,

      It’s so nice to see you to stop by!

      I am glad you liked the post and I am glad to see that you have been inspired by the things you watch. If you run across the same idea or thing repeatedly, it could be a sign from the universe for you to take note of it. And it seems like you have understood how to manage the shocks of fate. :)

      I haven’t watched “Old Boy” before. From what I see on wikipedia, it does seem good. I might just have to check it out myself. It is a good thing I like Korean dramas and films! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. :D

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