07/02/2012 01:43 pm ET Updated Sep 01, 2012

How Do You Cope When Your Life is Falling Down Around You?

I heard recently that a friend-of-a-friend that I have known for a few years is dealing with a very difficult situation. He had recently broken up with his long-term, live-in girlfriend. At about the same time, he had quit his lucrative corporate job in order to search for a job that would make him happier. Almost a year later, he found himself jobless and girlfriendless, desperately unhappy and using alcohol to cope with his feelings.

Hearing his story reminded me all too well of the unhappy, unproductive cycle that I found myself in when going through my divorce. When my life was falling down around me -- within a year, I got divorced, was laid off, started my own business, moved to a new country, etc. -- I didn't react well. I leaned heavily on my ex-husband for friendship, advice and for emotional support, even when we were mid-divorce.

My other coping mechanism was alcohol. Today, a dry glass of red wine is still a comfort to me in tough times. It soothes my nerves and helps me cope with the stresses of my divorce, my new relationship, my business and everyday life.

And trust me... there are plenty of stresses in my life.

On a regular basis, I feel as if I am taking two steps forward and then five steps back. From the outside, it seems like everyone else's life has some level of security and consistency; on the other hand, I feel that my life is always riding a roller coaster -- at times, reaching unbelievable highs and at other times, crashing down around me.

But then I realized something. I've been feeling this way for almost a year and a half and I'm still going strong. As the old saying goes, "When the going gets rough, the tough (a.k.a. me) get going." Every day that passes is another chance for me to take control of my life and be the person that I want to be. I am the one and only person who is in control of my life and so I am the person who has to rescue myself when I feel that my life is falling apart.

This isn't a phenomenon that is exclusive to me. We all have the ability to change our lives into the lives that we had always dreamed of. The only thing standing in our way is self-awareness. Before you can start to make changes or improvements in your life, you need to know why you fell down or struggled in the past. Once you know why things went badly, and once you've figured out what you want to happen this time around, then you can start planning and take the first step towards making that dream happen.

So today is the day that my life is going to change. I have the power to make my dreams come true and I am going to harness that power to create real change in my life. I am going to take control; I'll start making a step-by-step plan and stop letting life knock me down. I will plan for the worst but expect the best... because I deserve to be happy and enjoy my life.

And so do you.

I'd love to hear what you do or think to make it through the tough days. Please leave your ideas or inspiring thoughts in the comment section below.

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