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12 Healthy Ways to Keep Your Mind Off Rejection or Failure

12 Healthy Ways to Keep Your Mind Off Rejection or Failure

Failure is earth shattering.  It can halt all of your momentum, crumble your foundation of faith, and cripple you emotionally. At times failure can be so paralyzing that you feel there is no way out. You might find yourself thinking that the idea of success will always be out of reach.

I know how you feel. You’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heartbreak, a firing, or a friend bails on your highly anticipated lunch – rejection and failure deflates your self worth. But, I assure you, every one has experienced this gut-wrenching numbness before. Some worse than others. Before we dive into healthy ways to remove negativity from your mind when failure happens, because it will, I want to encourage you to stir away from two very volatile, very unhealthy tendencies people have:

  1. The “it could be worse” plague: Gratitude for what you have should be a daily trait. In fact, many highly successful people do it. However, there is a major fault in this mentality because it encourages you to suppress your pain and ignore your problems. If you suppress your pain, you will not face it. If you do not face it, you will not grow. Face your pain instead of getting lost in fantasies about how bad it could really get. I’m giving you permission to feel sad, but only for a little while.
  2. Don’t find comfort in external variables: Again, these act as bandages over a gaping wound gushing uncontrollably. While some external activities are healthy (working out, hanging with friends, laughing), many of us, especially those in our early 20’s to mid-30’s try to hide them in unhealthy habits like excess drinking, non-recreational drug use, and overeating, among others.

Now that we’ve narrowed down the two most extreme ways not to deal with rejection, let’s dive into what can make it better. But, first, please take a deep breath (be honest about it) and remind yourself that it will all work out. Be true when asking yourself, “Doesn’t it always?” 

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1. Talk about it

Like I said, we often want to run as far away as possible from our discomforts and shortcomings, but it always helps to talk it out. If you can’t find words to say to someone, write a letter and send it to them. Or, write yourself a letter to reflect on later.

2. Understand that you are not your failure

You have to forgive yourself or, as my mom says, be kind to yourself. You are not the emotions in your head, nor the voices saying you suck, nor your perceived failures. Externalizing these feelings is something that’s very crucial in overcoming them and building a better life.

3. Look at the failures of your heroes

I find it extremely healthy to examine the shortcomings of people you idolize. Don’t do this with scrutinization. Instead, try to understand that everyone goes through uncomfortable struggles in life. If possible, try to reach out to your hero personally and ask them to expand on what you already know about their story.

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4. Examine your definition of failure

Failure and success are both subjective. Sure, there may be a baseline criteria for both that we’ve been told. But feelings of triumph and ones of letdown are often contrived based on what you feel and what you perceive. Again, be kind to yourself.

5. Start a project or revisit a hobby

Keeping your mind busy is often a great way to overcome past failures. Feelings of success, euphoria, and positive momentum often come from small steps towards a much larger goal or ideal. Hobbies and projects, just like life goals, are all about the process, not the final product. It’s beyond rewarding.

6. Volunteer or perform a random act of kindness for a stranger

This is an easy one, I think. There are always people who are less fortunate than us. Again, I’m not inviting these “it could be worse” thoughts, but there’s significant valor in helping others. It will absolutely make you feel good.

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7. Consume media that makes you feel good

Books, music, movies, whatever. There’s no denying that there’s negativity everywhere we turn. The blues on the news, Law & Order type shows that make us think our neighbor is a serial killer, and constant threats from foreign terrorists that we read about in the newspaper will not invite feelings of motivation. Ever. Carefully craft the media you surround yourself with. I mean, don’t you visit this website to feel good?

8. Reconnect with a relative or close friend

Perhaps this is the person you talk it out with. Even if it’s not, reconnecting with someone you care about is another pretty easy way to remind yourself that there are people in this world who love you. More than you probably realize.

9. Take out a piece of paper and give gratitude (the opposite of the “it could be worse” plague)

The first thing I do every morning (after turning on the light so I can see) is write down one thing I’m thankful for. Some days it’s really deep and geared towards me personally. Other days it’s simple, like giving thanks for how intricate and cool ice cubes are. (Pun intended)

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10. Try to silence your mind for 15 minutes a day

Meditation is misconceived as a Buddhist practice, but everyone can do it and they should. Be forewarned: It’s extremely difficult at first. But just try to think about one word or object and completely focus your mind on that and only that for 5 – 10 minutes a day. What will that accomplish? The strength and ability to let go of the negative mental thoughts that weigh you down. In essence, it’s mental conditioning. It also allows you to realign your heart and intuition.

11. Redecorate the place you spend a lot of time in (office, home, ect.)

Where you live and how you decorate plays a surprisingly large roll in your happiness. Are your walls tattered in things that inspire you? If you’re not into decorating, are your walls a color that you like? Something that evokes happiness, prosperity, and hope? Sometimes redecorating the place you spend a lot of time in can give you a fresh perspective.

12. Smile

Life is meant to enjoy. Peaks and valleys come a dime a dozen, and there’s no controlling either of them. I had a wise old friend once tell me that, “We have to remind ourselves that it’s all just a ride.” We have the conscious choice on how to feel. No matter our level of failure or heartbreak or rejection, no one can dictate how you think and feel but you.

Don’t forfeit that power to anyone, yourself included.

Featured photo credit: Woman Gracefully Falling & Jumping Of Tree In Field/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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