I Built My Life Upon a House of Cards

· March 30, 2017

I built my life upon a house of cards, although it took me a long time to realize that. I thought that I had a good hand, but suddenly I lost the game. Those cards were small achievements that I thought I had made little by little, and that, with one damn gust of wind, I lost in the blink of an eye.

I had the card of work, the card of independence, the card of freedom, and the card of confidence. But a monster called crisis came to play its own hand, and my house of cards was blown down by a hurricane that destroyed every floor, that shattered the walls into a pile of straw.

And then I realized that I didn’t find those cards, but that they were dealt to me.

When you’re faced with unexpected circumstances like these, the future, which you bet all your savings on, seems to float away. It’s like losing your life playing poker in a casino. Nothing is certain anymore, the world becomes nothing more than random chance, and then your fears materialize.

Life is a game of chance, you never know if today you’re going to win or lose.

girl holding cards

We play the game of life with the cards we’ve been dealt

We often don’t realize that we’re playing the game of life with the cards we’ve already been dealt, and that it’s up to us to win the game. Chance puts us in situations that we didn’t ask for, that cause us harm, because it’s something that we can’t control.


Chance can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It gives you the cards, but you choose how to play them.

What can you do when the cards you’ve been dealt in life are not in your favor? How can you win the game of chance? The main thing is to not lose perspective. You can give up and get carried away by the sadness that you’re driven to by chance, or you can fight to win.

In order to be able to fight, you need to have different strategies that can work in your favor, so when you’re dealt a bad hand, these coping strategies can help you. Coping strategies, according to Lazarus and Folkman, are a set of cognitive and behavioral tools that you can use to manage internal or external demands that feel like too much for your individual resources.

Win the game with coping strategies

In life you’re going to encounter many difficult situations in which no matter what happens, you’re going to suffer, but you have to learn to accept them and live with them as just another part of the game of life. Keep going despite the pain and the fear.
arm wrestling

Coping strategies help you to not only deal with stress, but also to handle the emotions related to the problems you face each day. But we often don’t use the proper strategies, which is why we can’t face our problems. According to Lazarus and Folkman, there are two types of coping strategies:

  • Strategies focused on the problem: these are used when the problem can be handled, whether by changing the environment in which it arose or changing yourself. The two main strategies of this type are:
    • Confrontation: this involves facing the problem directly.
    • Planning and problem solving: this technique is used to find the best way to handle the problem.
  • Strategies focused on the emotions: these are used when you can’t intervene in the problem because it’s something that can’t be changed. Instead, you try to change the emotional significance of the stress you feel, or in other words, the way you view or interpret what’s happening. These include:
    • Distancing: denying the problem or forgetting that it exists.
    • Self-control: not rushing when facing the problem, keeping to yourself.
    • Accepting responsibility for the problem.
    • Escape-avoidance: waiting for it to solve itself, or even using drugs as a coping mechanism.
    • Positive reevaluation: asking for help or advice to get someone else’s point of view.

One special coping strategy is seeking social support, which falls under both categories, because it can be focused on both the emotions and the problem. This is because it depends on how you use that support and what you want from it.

girl and sunset

Be careful! Not all coping strategies are appropriate

Not all the strategies we mentioned here are positive or appropriate for solving problems. The strategies described above are the ones that the authors considered most common, but distancing and confrontation often hurt more than they help.

On the other hand, planning, problem solving, and positive reevaluation are the most useful when it comes to facing your problems, since they tend to produce very positive results.

So when your house of cards falls down like a poorly constructed castle, use the best coping strategies to solve your problems. If you don’t know how to use them, ask for psychological help so you can learn them, so that chance and sadness don’t win the game. You decide how to play the game of your own life. Chance gives you the cards, but you choose which ones to play. 

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