Heraclitus, the great Greek philosopher, is credited with the famous phrase “change is the only constant in life”. While this is undoubtedly true, challenge is also another constant. Life is rarely without a challenge — whether that be minor or catastrophic. It’s how we face and overcome challenge that leads to character. While it’s inevitable that life will hand you lemons and you’ll be asked to make lemonade more times than you can count, it’s how you deal with challenge that really matters.
In this post, we outline three important perspectives to keep in mind as you encounter obstacles in your life.
Choose your thoughts carefully
It’s so easy, during times of challenge and adversity, to get stuck on what’s bad, wrong, and who’s to blame. Maybe you are going through a divorce and you’re fixated on all the things that went wrong in your marriage and what the divorce resulted in, including debt, loneliness, the feeling of “starting over” or managing a co-parenting schedule. Dwelling on what’s wrong with negative self-talk can be a dark spiral and hard to pull out of.
Has the coronavirus pandemic caused you to feel more negative about the future? Are you overwhelmed with the challenges you've experienced adapting to this "new normal"? We understand how challenging this time can be, and how important it is to stay positive and embrace change. Contact us to schedule an online therapy session.
Instead, if you can retrain your mind to focus on what’s possible and imagine the outcome you desire, you will likely feel your outlook changing. Channeling your thoughts and perceptions into the best possible outcome instead of the worst can be very powerful. Using positive affirmations to confirm what’s possible is a practice that can help in difficult moments, or help align your mindset early in the morning or before bed.
In the example of divorce, instead of focusing on lack, choose to focus on the potential of a happier, more fulfilling life. Maybe you’ll meet a new partner, be energized by a new hobby, or reinvent yourself in positive ways. Direct your thoughts into the best case scenario by stepping back and seeing the situation more broadly, instead of falling into the trap of using negative self-talk to reinforce the worst case scenario.
Focus on the lessons
Similar to choosing to see the potential of a challenging situation, focusing on the growth that is possible in difficult times can also help you overcome a hardship. Maybe you are working through a difficult relationship with a family member. Instead of letting the situation drain your energy, shift your perspective to the growth and lessons that can come out of a difficult situation like this one.
Can you learn something about boundaries or communication styles through this conflict?
Can you look for the deeper meaning of the conflict and gain insights about human behavior that you can apply elsewhere?
Can you practice a new way of being, thinking, or interacting in the situation you are in?
Growing through difficulty and challenge by focusing on the strengths, skills, and the meaning that comes out of an unfortunate situation can transform the scenario into an opportunity. Choosing gratitude can help you through this difficult time.
Do the next thing
Sometimes, a major setback can feel overwhelming to overcome. Maybe it’s a miscarriage, for example. In times of loss like these, it might feel impossible to overcome the pain, grief, and hardship. It can often feel like you don’t know where to start.
It’s in times like these that it’s important to focus on just the next step. In the example of a miscarriage, that might be simply booking an appointment with a therapist who specializes in helping clients through this type of grief, or finding a support group online. It’s a small step, but it’s the first important step to healing. Instead of trying to get to your end goal during a challenging time, try getting to just the next step and then building upon that success as you work toward your ultimate desired destination. Change is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on the next step forward.
It’s certain that bad things will happen. At Center for Shared Insight, we know that overcoming any challenge begins with the right focus, committing to baby steps, and a choosing a positive mindset. Our team helps you identify patterns of negative thoughts or limiting beliefs so you can step into your full potential. We want to hear your unique story and learn about your challenges. Contact us for a free consultation.