One of the amazing things about life is that life is changeable. It is also filled with joy, fun, laughter, and challenges! Sometimes just acknowledging that life has challenges can take the edge off the tough things. However, when life hurls a curve ball your way, how do you cope?
As someone once pointed out, how on earth do you know when things are good if you have never experienced things when they were bad? How do you recognize a sunny day without rain? It is the deep troughs that enable us to see the highest of highs.
Not everyone has complex life skills, but we can all stand back and rethink or re-frame what is happening to us. Life skills are often something we acquire as we go along, so don’t be so hard on yourself.
Some people might tell you to think positive, which is a bit of a band-aid and doesn’t help anyone.
Here are some real tips to help you overcome challenges:
1. Look at the Problem Differently
It seems like it never rains, but it pours. The truth is that once we are knocked off our socks, other events often feel more catastrophic. Let’s take an example.
Let’s say you didn’t sleep very well one night, and because of that, you missed your bus to work, your umbrella blew inside out, and after trudging through the rain for an hour to get to work, you got there and you had a massive blister on your heel. It might seem at that point as though the whole world hates us.
On a regular day, the umbrella blowing inside out might have annoyed us, but it certainly did not make us think the end of the world had arrived.
What people need in times of trouble is a new perspective. If we cannot see things differently, this is when we call upon our trusted friends to help. Often another person’s perspective can shed a whole new light on the situation. As many have said before, life is a matter of perspective.
Also, do a mind file of sorts. Point out to yourself the things that upset your equilibrium, instead of bemoaning the fact that the whole world or the universe has it in for you. Understand that the smaller things that happened alongside this fact would never have had such an impact on you usually. This helps put things back into perspective and overcome challenges more easily.
2. Talk To Someone Who Has Experienced Something Similar
This depends on the type of challenge you are facing. If you have suddenly lost someone you love, whether to divorce or even death, consider talking to people who have been there and managed to come through the other side.
It could be a friend or even a group. Friends and groups that have experienced something similar to you do have the experience to guide you away from the pitfalls of sorrow and grief. They can help you understand that your feelings are normal, they are valid, but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Also read: How To Improve Your Life When It Feels Dull?
People’s lives can change simply by reading a book that resonates with them. There are several books out there where people will share their experiences helping other people. The more you share, the quicker you will overcome the challenges you face.
As the adage goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
3. Focus on the things that are going well currently
It is human nature to focus on negative things. The brain is a funny organ, it will carve out pathways almost like when you walk along a country road many times over.
The more you walk that path, the smoother and more walkable that path is. The brain operates in a similar manner.
Neurons will become denser in areas that are used a lot. The same applies when you think a certain way. Decide to change that. At first, your mind will want to go the familiar route of thinking negatively about everything. You simply have to say stop and move your brain to the things that are going well for you.
This takes practice and determination.
If you find this particularly hard, writing it down helps. Keep a journey where you can pen these things down. Read all your previous entries also. Sitting at a desk and writing down those things that are working for you, no matter how small, involves both the physical and mental aspects of remembering, and this will help establish new pathways in the brain.
Don’t beat yourself up about going down the old familiar route. Just accept it and move on. You can even relay this to another person. Give them a phone call and tell them about the great things that happened that day, or that month, aside from that which is causing you pain right now.
That does not mean ignoring the issue, it just means keeping a positive focus.
4. Don’t Keep it to Yourself
When you first experience a problem or challenge, you might struggle to deal with the tumble of emotions that could overtake you. Instead of bottling it up, talk about it. In Freudian analysis, this is known as catharsis.
This method is not used too often today, unlike back then, but therapists still employ catharsis as a way of releasing tension by talking. You can even do this by letting your feelings go with a good friend, allowing all the hidden tensions, fears, and anxieties your thoughts could be causing you physiologically. There are other ways to use catharsis.
- Doing something artistic – and releasing emotions
- Writing things down with a full expression
- Listening to music that moves you
- Chatting to a good listener
- Working out – which in turn releases tension and emotion.
Once you have a handle on your feelings again, you might spot insights that you hadn’t observed before. You might feel a release and an ability to master your emotions despite what is happening. No one has ever said that strong people do not have emotions. On the contrary, they have them but master them.
5. Give Yourself What You Need Right Now
Some people feel better being alone during times of stress. Using that alone time to reflect and ask themselves about the situation and way to overcome challenges. In other words, think.
It is difficult to think when there is a lot of noise around you. The brain needs time to digest things that happen, and then come up with solutions. If you are impressed by computers, the brain is far superior to any computer. It has infinite wisdom that you merely need to tap into when you want to.
Other people prefer to be kept busy, and seek out the company of good friends, that is OK too. If you feel particularly vulnerable, become your own parent. What would a good parent do for you now? Buy you an ice cream? If that is the answer, buy yourself an ice cream.
Don’t be afraid to contact friends and ask them what they are doing, perhaps you could join them. Most people want to help people in times of stress, so let them.
6. Don’t Make Huge Decisions When You are Vulnerable
Depending on the challenge you face, it is better to not make important decisions when you are this vulnerable. Save it for another day.
If a person is overwrought, they can make decisions based on that moment and that state or feeling they are in. Moments pass and your thinking will change. If you can avoid making decisions altogether, then do that.
Don’t be pushed into making a decision either, know your boundaries, and where possible take your time. In difficult situations, time is our healer, and it is also our storyteller, giving us helpful cues as to what to do next.
Read more here: How to Get Your Life Together?
7. Take Responsibility Where You Can
If you are going through a tough time, consider examining where you went wrong in the past and what you can learn from it in relation to what is happening right now. Learning from experience and life challenges is a gift, not a punishment.
Also read: Top 6 Tips For Personal Growth
People often call life the teacher, and this is very true. Life does teach us how to do better. Don’t be judgemental towards yourself, but decide which things you can take responsibility for. Also, decide to learn from that experience, so that you can handle it better next time.
8. Brush Up on Your Routines
When trying to overcome challenges in life, this is the time when sleeping correctly, eating right, and taking good care of yourself are important. Emotions are always higher when you are lacking in rest and also not eating well.
Routines help alleviate stress and can calm a person down, enabling them to deal with life situations much more effectively. Routine is one of the best ways to organize your life.
Working out and eating on time requires some forethought, and a good routine can help with that task when you are functioning on autopilot. Routines can be quite mindful times, as your planning could save a lot of wasted time and stress. When you reduce stress, you also reduce anxiety.
9. Where You Can, Let it Go
The reality of life is that we only have so much control over a situation. That can include people too. Learn to let go where you can. Admitting defeat is not a war lost, and in many ways is a war won.
If you have tried many times before to put a situation right without success, let go. Allow that person to get on with their lives, and give yourself that right too. This is simply a steep learning curve, and life is all about steep learning curves.
If it is a situation, then think about natural disasters and consider how much control you have over them? The answer is of course zero. Oddly understanding when you are done, or when you give up on a matter, leaves you feeling far calmer than fighting a pointless fight.
Letting go is establishing boundaries about certain situations, and if it is something else, it enables healing to start. Letting go is the magical elixir of overcoming the challenges that not many people are aware of.
10. Re-Frame the Situation
Reframing a situation can lead to diffusing the tension around the situation. When you do this, ask yourself positive questions, not negative questions.
A negative question might be: “How did I get myself into this situation?” This is only negative because self-recrimination could occur, and that is not healthy. You want to avoid leading your mind into a circle of remuneration.
Instead, ask yourself: “What valuable lessons have I learned from this situation?”.
Think about how other people have dealt with the situation in a way you felt admirable. Most popular celebrities share their challenges these days, and many celebrities are admired for their problem-solving skills. If you feel they dealt with it well, follow their example. You can also assess how you have handled the situation so far, and make adjustments where you feel they are needed.
Reframing is a handy tool for mental health in general. One can learn a lot about oneself from this exercise. Insights could be gained, challenges met, and growth can occur.
11. Start to Visualize the Changes You Want to See in Your Life
When circumstances are tough and life is filled with a challenge, it is hard to see the other side when all the dust settles. Practice visualizing how you want your life to look at this point. Imagine it in great detail, your facial expressions, the sights, sounds, and smells.
The brain often has a tough time discerning what is true and what is not in this scenario. The brain then sends signals to the body that everything is OK and the body starts to recuperate. Instead of going over the negative aspects of what is happening, see the way out, way before that is visible to you in reality.
This can lift your spirits and help you to go on positively and calmly. It is profound the effect this can have on a person. They start to behave as though this is already true for them, and their life situation can change quite quickly after that. Then, they start living with purpose.
Everyone has difficulties from time to time, but there is always an end in sight. Sometimes it takes longer than other times, but snatch moments to not only visualize your life as you want it to be but also to do things you enjoy and that bring happiness to you.
Everyone also feels they want to give up completely and throw in the towel, but the truth is this is only a feeling, and feelings pass. It is a good reminder to tell yourself from time to time.
Feelings are just that, and you can often choose to change your feeling by changing an action. Take the dog for a walk, call a friend that makes you laugh, or watch a comedy. In small ways, we have control over what happens to us and how we feel despite what is going on. All these small actions improve the ability to overcome challenges with a calmer outlook.