I am not the kind of person who writes about something while I am still experiencing it but today, my apparent struggle is foremost on my mind and no amount of staving it off is making me feel any better. So, I have decided to put together a list of the methods I usually use to encourage myself after I have overcome the bigger hurdles of a struggle (and some I have never tried but the experts swear that they work!)
I realize that many times we all undergo struggles of different kinds in our lives; they sometimes come in pairs, threes, fours, whatever the case, we usually feel like we are drowning when we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are times when you feel lost and alone and just can’t seem to muster the strength to keep moving forward. It may be a relationship, a business venture or even a major life decision. My point is, we all inevitably go through struggle but how you react to it is entirely up to YOU.
You attest to the infinite capacity of the human potential and you can develop an unstoppable and positive mindset to help you whenever you are struggling.
1. Break out of your comfort zone
Believe me; success awaits you right outside your comfort zone. Struggle builds character and it is in your best interests to overcome any obstacle in your path and accomplish something worthwhile. Do something that pushes you to your limits and beyond, and do not be shy to write me narrating how unstoppable you felt after revealing to yourself that you are capable of more than you had imagined.
2. Use your support system
Success is a team sport and there is no “I” in team. No one does it alone and neither should you. Draw inspiration from the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical support that you receive from family, friends, a mastermind group you are part of, or even an accountability friend that you check in with just to monitor your progress.
3. Focus on the positive
As you may have noticed from the general theme of this blog, I am very much into mental health. As such I love psychology and the professionals say we are all conditioned with “The Negative Bias”. This means we have a natural tendency to focus on threats and dangers, even perceived ones we create! So, deliberately find reasons to appreciate everything around you and focus on the positive.
4. Choose new stories
We all tell ourselves stories about who we are, how the world works and what people are like. More often than not, as a result of the negativity bias at play, those stories are dis-empowering. Even when the economy is bad, many people are still making money. So you can choose to believe the story that the economy is bad, or you can write a new story that the world is ripe for the picking. If you are going to tell stories, you might as well tell ones that empower you!
5. Keep a journal (or diary)
I really laughed this one off the first time I heard of it, but from personal experience now, I recommend you do keep a journal! Every time you feel stuck or find yourself facing a challenge, jot it down and brainstorm on it when in a better mind space. Also take note of the good memories because eventually you will realize, you have so much more reason to smile than to frown! (Refer to numero three)
6. Celebrate your achievements (and seek out new challenges)
Write down a list of the successes you have achieved in your life. Try to reach at least 50. Don’t be modest! :P Moving forward, any time you experience a win, stop and celebrate it. Also, similar to a bucket list, write down a list of all the achievements you wish to make in the rest of your life. This gives you something to focus on. It gives you a reason to push through any struggle that might come up in your journey. Those who set goals and write them down are far more likely to succeed than those that don’t. :)
7. Change your memories
Go back in time to all those memories that have robbed you of your confidence and create new meanings to them. Cognitive psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus has shown that memories can be changed and even false memories can be implanted in people. What this means is that you can literally go back in time and change your memories simply by repeatedly picturing the event while anchored into a positive state, so the meaning of the memory will become a positive one. (This one is cited by professionals; I am yet to successfully try it myself!)
8. Step into another person’s shoes
Winston Churchill is alleged to have said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Volunteer somewhere. Help someone that is less fortunate than you are and one that will never pay you back. In equal measure, when faced with a challenge, ask yourself what someone you admire would do in your situation. Get them to step into your shoes and learn how to heal through giving.
9. Stand tall and speak confidently
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that a strong body language actually changes the inner workings of your brain. Practice standing tall and embodying a posture of unbreakable confidence everywhere you go. This will ingrain it deep into your mind and your being. Also, if every day you use the word depressed, you will become so. Studies have repeatedly shown that when people have been exposed to words relating to old age, they walked slower than those that were exposed to younger words. They saw old words and thus acted old. Use words like powerful, unstoppable and confident as a regular part of your daily vocabulary.
10. Meditate. Find your focus!
In his research, Dr. Andrew Newberg found that brain scans of meditating Buddhists had greater activity in the parts of the brain associated with focus and awareness than those that do not engage in some sort of meditation. For 10 minutes a day, sit in silence without distractions and just be with your thoughts. This will improve your ability to focus on finding solutions to challenges and creating the life you want to live — as opposed to being at the mercy of circumstances.
Get some exercise in! Work out! Preferably out in nature. For at least three days a week, do some sort of exercise. It has been shown to improve habits in all areas of your life and improve overall self-confidence! It might also give you the energy to overcome the life challenge you might be facing. When you discover the secret to how to consistently exercise, please let me in on it because I keep failing miserably on this remedy; and that is okay, one step at a time — Rome was not built in one day!
12. Develop good habits and accomplish something
Learn how to build positive habits. Keep practicing a desired action for at least 30 days to ensure that it becomes a habit and you no longer have to think about it. Ultimately, take action and accomplish something no matter how small because our egos are deeply satisfied when we get results. So, no matter how small the task, set a task, take positive action and accomplish something today! :)
I may not be an expert by the usual standard but I am an expert on my life. Likewise, you should be an expert on yours because there is only one you in this entire universe of over 7 billion humans — that is even before we consider the flora and fauna! If you are struggling with something, please feel free to share it so that we may figure out how to help each other, together. I would be honored to hear your thoughts on the above methods, and your strategies on how you overcome life difficulties. Thank you for reading! :)