Life is full of challenges. Most of us have faced adversity at some point in our lives. And while some of us show strength and resolve during tough times, others melt under the pressure.
How do you handle difficult times in your life? The way you respond—and the resulting outcome—is within your control. Based on experience, I’ve learned a few lessons that might help you better manage your next life challenge:
- Mentally prepare yourself for adversity – No matter how well you plan ahead, there will always be setbacks and challenges. Confront the situation head-on by deciding whether you will allow your experience to make you or break you. The outcome is dependent upon how you choose to perceive it.
- Keep perspective – Acknowledging and accepting adversity is essential to helping you overcome it. Remind yourself that others have faced similar challenges; that tough times are part of life. And then realign your thinking: Ask yourself if the challenge will be meaningful 3-6 months from now. Will it matter to your future self?
- Don’t get too high or too low – Achieving that balance is easier said than done—but it’s so important to having a healthy outlook. Give yourself a gentle reminder that “life happens,” reinforcing that while difficulties will happen, you can only control how you respond to them. Over-reacting takes an emotional and physical toll—be disciplined in your thoughts.
- Take a break – So often we get consumed by self-doubt, get crippled by problem-solving—the challenge seems too big, too overwhelming. There is therapeutic benefit to clearing your head: Take a physical break (leave your office/home and take a walk), meditate, pray, exercise, listen to music, etc.
- Find the WHY – Challenge yourself to find the lesson in the situation. Figure out the “why.”
Why is this happening to you? Would it have happened if you hadn’t taken a certain step that you took? Using a life challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow is a profound way to change the trajectory of a tough situation.
- Remind yourself of the good things in your life – We all have much to be thankful for—but when we’re in the middle of a firestorm, it’s difficult to see through to the other side. Perspective is powerful: Write down positive thoughts, daily gratitudes, or simply focus on those good things: look/scroll through photos, reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while—these are simple ways to refocus your energy and attention to the things/people in your life that are most important.
- Seek counsel – You’re not alone! Look for outside guidance: If you’re confronting a workplace challenge, talk to a mentor or colleague; if you’re facing difficulty in your personal life, connect with a friend, pastor or counselor. Educate yourself about your options from trusted resources (listen to podcasts, read blogs, books, etc.) And be mindful of the people who you surround yourself with every day—choose to spend time with those who are a positive influence and who are making choices that align with your values.
In my own life, I’ve learned that dealing with challenges is a mind-over-matter exercise—and using these tips helps keep me centered and focused. Are there others you’d add to the list? I always welcome good advice.
Bob De Garmo