Staying Positive When Times Are Tough
We live in a crazy world – we all know this. Many things happen that make us feel like our lives are spinning out of control, leaving us feeling helpless and in fear or despair. Often it is hard for some people to stay positive when they meet calamity after calamity and everything seems to be going wrong.
How is it possible to stay positive when everything is in chaos? How can we get through the tough times and stay sane? In the post below I have given some points that I hope will be helpful to you in facing the difficult times, whatever you may be going through
They are simple but by no means easy. However, if you choose to apply them, I am quite certain you will see life circumstances differently.
1. Keep Perspective
We all know about the glass being half full or half empty and the optimistic people who choose only to see the positive. Other people have difficulty doing this because their minds can only see that the glass is becoming empty. In difficult circumstances, in tough times, it can be very tempting to focus on what is going wrong rather than on the benefits or opportunities. We can easily become quite overwhelmed and begin to think everything is a disaster. We can feel powerless to do anything except to throw our hands up in the air in despair.
But the human mind is capable of much more. It is capable of finding the silver lining and it is capable of sorting out fiction from reality. We have the ability, once we get our emotions in check and out of the way, to look objectively at any situation and figure out how big the problem really is or isn’t and what we can personally do to change how we think about it.
Sometimes it can be helpful not to listen to too many outside opinions or at least we should listen to those we trust. People have all kinds of opinions and listening to them can easily produce overwhelm. And then, it is next to impossible to have perspective. For example, when we listen to or watch the news too much or spend too much time on social media we can become flooded with negativity and information that might not even be true.
So being able to form a healthy perspective (one that is not overly positive or negative, but balanced) can help us to face tough times.
2. Take a Media and Technology Break
The “noise” from the media can overwhelm us and cause unneeded stress. Our technology that was created to save time and make our lives easier can actually get in the way of living. Not only do we feel dependant on our technology and somehow orphaned when we are disconnected, but this technology also disconnects us from the world around us. The media, whether it be social media or network media influences us and our thoughts more than we care to admit.
For our own sanity and peace of mind, we need to take a break from all the noise and spend time with friends, family and ourselves. A constant connection to our devices and the media does not equip us to handle difficulties in healthy ways. We need time and space to be able to think correctly.
In order to stay positive in difficult times, it is imperative that we take media and technology vacations from time to time.
We always have a choice in how we view any situation. We can choose to be mastered by difficult circumstances or we can choose to filter out what we have no control over and focus on what we can personally change. Reframing the situation in our mind and how we relate to it allows us to step outside a bit and view it objectively rather than personally.
Changing how we think about circumstances also helps us to change how we feel about them and we all know how feelings and emotions can cloud our thinking and paralyze us to a certain extent. Rather than holding us prisoner of our thoughts and feelings, reframing can liberate us and help us to see options and solutions. It allows us to take steps to change what is in our power to change.
4. Break the Cycle of Negativity
Much of what we hear in our heads or what we tell ourselves are not facts, only opinions or our perspective. They are our distorted impressions of how we see the world and reality and of how we see ourselves in it. Our negative distortions of reality can get us into trouble if we believe them and act on them. The more space and importance we give them, the more power they have over us and eventually, they can end up mastering us and determining our reality.
Most of the time we tend to let these thoughts make decisions for us. We overdo their severity by generalizing, exaggerating and inflating their importance. We often think our thoughts are true, but really they are only our perspective.
So what can we do?
We can become aware of our thoughts. That is to say, we can think about what we are thinking and identify it as negative or positive, constructive or destructive.
We can ask ourselves if what we are thinking is actually true or fact, or whether we just think it is true.
We can get into the habit of discerning fact from opinion in our own mind. Fact is not accompanied by emotions; it just is. Opinions often come loaded with emotions. So one way to distinguish them is to see how your thoughts make you feel. These exercises will help you begin to break the cycle of negativity.
Nothing beats a good dose of exercise to change our thoughts and get us out of our doldrums. Even a brisk walk around the neighborhood can do wonders to lift our spirits and sharpen our focus. Getting out in fresh air and pumping oxygen can only put us in a more positive and productive frame of mind.
There are things in life that we can not do anything about and we have to let them go. Why should we waste our valuable time worrying about what we can’t change? Physical exercise is an excellent way to get our minds off our troubles and focus on fun and building healthy bodies.
6. Don’t Blame Anything or Anyone
It is a natural human tendency to find a culprit outside of ourselves when something goes wrong. It is easy to blame the economy when our finances are a mess. It is easy to blame others for the consequences of our own attitudes and choices. And when we don’t understand circumstances beyond our control such as world events, injustice or other calamities, some of us shake our fists at God for causing all this misery. We have a strong need to find a culprit in order not to assume any responsibility on our part.
Blame never works in the way we hope it will. Blaming is a temporary reaction to an attitude problem. Not only will blaming other people put you in the dog house in their books, it not solve your problem. It is also futile to blame circumstances for your misery because that doesn’t change the circumstances. The blaming habit will always keep you in a position of helplessness and bitterness.
So what can we do?
The best place to start is to accept that we can not control other people and have very little control over circumstances. We can only control ourselves and how we think. Secondly, since we know that casting blame on others is not the best way to maintain good relations, we can humble ourselves a little and look to see what our share of the responsibility is ours? If we are overwhelmed by extraordinarily trying circumstances, we might not be able to change them, but we can certainly change how we think about them. Blaming the world will not help us, but learning to build our own silver lining and being responsible for our own happiness certainly will.
7. Focus on Solutions
Life happens and that is the way it is; it’s nothing personal. Times are good and times are bad and we need to roll with them. We can get stuck in our misery or we can change what we can change. We can be fatalistic or we can be a solution-minded person. It’s up to us.
The first step to being a solution-minded person is to look at the situation straight up and acknowledge that it exists. We can also acknowledge our feelings about it. But, we shouldn’t stay there. We need to see what things we have no control over and what things we do. We need to accept what we can not change and work on the areas we can change.
Being solutions-minded also means having a proper perspective. In his book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life”, Dr. Martin Selsman identifies three insights regarding problems or tough times:
- Nothing is permanent (It won’t last forever)
- Nothing is all the time (just sometimes)
- It’s not always personal
These are very helpful conclusions to give us perspective. When we get these worries out of the way, we can then get down ti the business of finding solutions or becoming the solution by changing ourselves.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family &, friends. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca