Sooner or later, everyone faces challenges in their personal life that can have a detrimental influence of their business. Whether it’s a serious illness, death of a loved one, divorce or some other life trauma, what can you do to cope when your personal life is falling apart?

As a real estate professional, you’re expected to be the calm in the storm. When transactions start to fall apart, you’re the glue that holds the deal together. When the seller is screaming and the buyer is threatening to sue, you’re the one who is supposed to calm the explosive situation.

Even on the best days, this is a tall order. It is particularly difficult when you are dealing with your own issues outside of your business. Making matters worse, the law of attraction says, “Like attracts like.” In other words, if you’re going through a messy divorce or have a loved one facing a serious illness, the probability is high that you will attract clients who are facing the same issues you are facing.

If you have a personal situation that is pulling you off focus, here are six steps that can help you weather the storm.

1. Completely describe the challenge you’re facing in writing
A difficult situation is like a continuous loop that keeps going around and around in your head. Your conscious mind keeps coming back to it because your unconscious mind is struggling with pain, grief, guilt or a variety of other issues.

A proven way to cope with this situation is to record as many details about the situation as possible. This strategy allows you to break the ceaseless pattern of self-talk.

2. Write down as many solutions as possible no matter how ridiculous
Once you have adequately described the various aspects of the issue you are facing, come up with as many solutions as possible. Even though some of the ideas may be preposterous, when you can laugh at the situation, you have taken an important step in coping with it.

3. Pick the best solution and identify one action step you can take
While you may want to shoot your neighbor’s cat who keeps using your prized garden as his litter box, that’s not a viable solution. Instead, go through the list and identify the one alternative that you believe will achieve the best results.

4. When you face the worst
If a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, what can you do to ease that person’s transition? One proven approach is to recall the good times you have had together. Even when there is little to laugh about in the current situation, chances are you have some crazy or funny things you did together that will allow you to experience a happy memory together.

If you lose a loved one and you haven’t said what you needed to say or if there are still unresolved issues after the person has died, take your time to write a letter. Thank the person for what you have learned from them (even if it’s to never do what they did), as well as lay out everything they did to hurt or harm you. This process can take months or even years. Once your letter is complete, you can keep it or burn it. The goal is to get those pent-up feelings outside of you so that you can move forward with your life.

5. Set a date and time to take the step
You’re now ready to set a specific date and time that you will take your first action step. In most cases, the sooner you take the step, the better.

When there is absolutely nothing you can do to fix or alter the situation, the step you can take is to identify what you can do that will support you to endure what’s ahead in the best way possible. This may be taking extra time for you to go to a movie, get a massage, play a round of golf or just about anything else that helps you to cope. Remember, the effort spent resolving a challenge is much less than the energy spent being distracted by it.

6. Toss your troubles in the trunk
If you’ve just lost three deals and are going on a big listing appointment, make sure that you’ve captured as much of what you are experiencing on paper as possible. If you have time, come up with at least one or two ways to cope with the situation. Once you arrive at your appointment, toss your list of problems into the trunk of your car. Locking the list up in your trunk may be just the trick you need to get it off your mind and convert that appointment into a signed listing. Who knows, when you return to your car with that signed listing, the hurt and pain you experienced may already be starting to fade away.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at

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