What makes some people get up again after a defeat while others give up? Where do they find the strength to keep going? For one, they know how to put things in perspective. They know when to critique their own performance and when to pat themselves on the back.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking doesn’t come easy. Most of us can see the downs easier than we can appreciate the ups. We beat ourselves up after every setback. The following tips can help you focus on the positive and increase your resilience in the face of adversity.
Don’t Be Stingy With Yourself
When faced with adversity, whether that be the loss of a home, money troubles, or relationship struggles, it’s easy to dwell on your failures. That does no one, including yourself, any good. Instead of mulling over your defeats, try to relish in your triumphs, however small or insignificant they may seem to others.
In other words, “think positive.” It may sound like a hollow cliche?, but it takes uncommon strength to hope for the best when confronted with the worst, to imagine a brighter future when the present appears bleak, or to feel gratitude when you feel shortchanged by the world. Good thoughts alone may not solve your problems, but they can put you in the right mindset to move forward in a difficult situation.
Appreciate the Magnitude of the Problem
No one gets through life without suffering a few scrapes and bruises, but some experience more than their fair share of trials. You don’t have to dwell on your misfortunes, but don’t underestimate them either.
It might take all the strength you can muster to get dressed in the morning. Depending on the circumstances, that might be enough. Instead of feeling defeated, it’s better to recognize the extent of the problem. Only when you acknowledge how tough the trials have been, can you give yourself the credit you deserve.
Everyone copes with pain and suffering in his or her own way. One person may be back at the gym a few days after losing a loved one. Another may need months to recover after being fired from a job. One person may find herself on the road to recovery from an addiction within a month, while it may take someone else a decade to achieve the same.
People react the way they do for any number of reasons. Perhaps someone grieving the loss of a loved one buries himself in work in an attempt to escape his pain. Maybe the laid-off worker devoted her entire life to her job, instead of raising a family. Expressing emotions openly is not a sign of weakness, nor is taking time to heal. In short, try not to compare and focus on your own journey.
Leave Your Inner Critic Behind
Dwell on negative thoughts for too long, and you can transform a tough predicament into an impossible situation. Why? Because focusing on the past blinds you to the present. How can you perceive accurately what’s happening now if your attention is fixated on past defeats or crises? Even more importantly, how can you plan for the future?
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t deal with painful or traumatic memories. It simply means we can’t let them overwhelm our thoughts and stop us from moving forward. When we feed our pessimism, it becomes a habit that consumes our lives, a reflex that sticks with us even after circumstances improve.
Express Your Thoughts
It’s one thing to acknowledge your triumphs. It’s another thing for someone else to acknowledge your triumphs. Unfortunately, most people are so wrapped up in their own lives and troubles (understandably so) that they have little time to pay attention to your triumphs. More often than not, you have to tell them about your successes.
If you can, find a friend, family member, or counselor who is willing to take the time to listen to what happened. It may seem awkward at first, but remember, you don’t have to sing your own praises. Just tell your story. Include as many details as you feel comfortable revealing – the bad and the good, the embarrassing and the satisfying.
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Of course, some people find it easy to communicate their pain – but many do not. As hard as it may be, it’s worth doing. The moment you say something out loud, it loses some of its power to torment you. If you feel uncomfortable talking about what happened, consider writing the story down as a first step toward releasing your emotions.
Go Beyond Self-Esteem
We need to give ourselves credit where credit is due, particularly if we have a habit of self-critiquing. That being said, there’s more to healing than self-congratulation. Our recovery journey also requires the help of others.
Being strong doesn’t mean being alone. The toughest people know when to reach out to others. Indeed, research has revealed that those who have extensive social networks increase their survival rate by 50 percent.
Isolation, on the other hand, can exacerbate almost any problem, whether that be a chronic physical illness or a substance abuse disorder. To sum it up, solitude tends to make us weaker, while support groups reinforce our own inner strengths and help us achieve lasting, positive change.
YOU are stronger than you know.
About the Author
Dr. Nancy Irwin specializes in sexual abuse issues, addictions, and phobias. As a clinical psychologist and the primary therapist at Seasons in Malibu, she treats over 100 different conditions at this CARF-accredited luxury addiction treatment center that focuses on compassionate care and safe detox.
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