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10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

Bad things happen—that’s a fact of life. Luckily, although we might feel otherwise, there is always, always something to be thankful for. When it rains, you can be thankful for the plants that grow. When the night is long and the darkness is engulfing, you can be thankful for joy and light comes in the morning. When you hurt, you can be thankful that sometimes you have to go through the worst to arrive at your best.

It is not what happens to you that matters — it’s your attitude to what happens to you that matters. American psychologist Albert Ellis, famous for developing rational emotive behavior therapy, explains that how people react to events is determined largely by their view of the events, not the events themselves. In other words, life is. The rest is interpretation.

Sometimes, you just need to put things into perspective in order to remain positive.

Here are 10 ways to stay positive, even when your situation keeps getting worse.

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1. Spend more time with those who make you smile

Life is about the moments we spend with one another. It’s about relationships. Avoid people who irritate you and spend more time with those who make you smile. Don’t be embarrassed to confide in a close friend or a family member, or just hang out with the people you trust. Voicing your struggles to loved ones can be the best thing to lighten the burden and start the process of recovery. Sometimes, all we need is a listening ear. Besides, speaking what’s in your heart is therapeutic.

2. Look at how far you’ve come

You might be in a very bad place at the moment, but you’ve made it through a lot to get to where you are now. Acknowledge all you’ve gone through, all you’ve overcome, all you’ve achieved thus far. Don’t let your current state blight your achievements. The fact that you are still here is a testament to your strength. You can make it through this current situation.

3. Read widely about your situation

There’s not really anything that hasn’t happened before, and most of it has been recorded. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, read widely about your situation and how others made it through. You will learn a lot and discover that no mountain is insurmountable. Apart from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge and perspectives, studies have shown that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68 per cent.

4. Let the upsetting emotions in

This might sound counterproductive, but it can work wonders. Acknowledge that you don’t like the situation you are in right now and allow yourself to feel and process the upsetting emotions.

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Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” Get out of negativity by going through your feelings. Cry about your situation if you feel like it.  Let everything that’s upsetting out of your system. You will feel lighter afterwards and be in a better position to do something about it.

5. Re-evaluate the situation and the events that led to it

Did you lose your job? Is it anxiety or stress? Maybe you’re dealing with frustration or depression? What caused this situation or these feelings? Label the cause of your frustration in one to three words, but no more — “lost my job,” “poor health,” etc. Reflect on the situation for a while and decide that you are not going to let it bring you down without a fight. It’s easier to deal with problems once you know the exact source of your issues. Resolve to make changes if you don’t like the current state of things, even if it’s just changing your attitude or perspective. There’s always an option.

6. Seek help from people who are in a position to help

Gather yourself and seek help from those who can help. That may be someone who has been in a similar situation, a professional therapist, or someone you trust deeply. Most people want to help in any way they can. Don’t let one mean person deter you from reaching out for help or support. It’s not selfish to seek help, but it’s a terrible thing to be defeated when help is just a call away. Besides, it’s always nice to know that someone has your back. It can calm your mind and bring back positive feelings of love and hope.

7. Relinquish control and perfectionism

Sometimes changing your present circumstance isn’t possible at the time. Rather than wallow in defeat and try to control everything, accept that some things in life are beyond your control. Perfectionism holds people back. Admit you’re only human, and move on with your life. You might not have that new job you want, but you are working on it. You are taking steps and trying your best. That is what matters.

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8. Expect positive outcomes all the time

You’ve probably heard of the Placebo Effect. According to Steve Schwartz, studies examining the neurobiological effects of placebos have shown definitively that our expectations directly impact our interpretation of reality. Medical subjects who are told they will experience pain experience heightened pain. Subjects who are told that they have been given something to reduce pain, experience a greatly reduced level of pain. The only difference was the expectation each subject had going in.

If you expect bad things to happen to you all the time, you are more susceptible to having bad things happen to you all the time. On the other hand, if you have positive expectations it will cause you to interpret things in a positive manner.

As Schwartz rightly observed, “Experiencing the world with negative expectations is like viewing reality through a muddy waterglass. Your view will be distorted and you won’t like what you see.”

So, try and expect positive things in your life.

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9. Forget about people who judge you in your struggles

Some people can be quite judgmental when you are going through a rough time. No one is immune to pain and struggle in this life. Those who laugh at you are being ignorant. They are not better than you, nor do they know what the future holds for them or you. Don’t waste your energy thinking about them. Focus instead on getting through your current situation, not on their sideshows. Great people go through struggles and overcome. That’s what makes them so great. Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates — all have gone through their own struggles in life. There is no success without struggle.

10. Look forward to looking back on this event with pride

A bad streak in life is an opportunity to demonstrate courage and the human capacity to overcome. Not everything is a crisis. As long as you are alive and trying your best to improve, there is always a chance that you will succeed. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. When you give up, you forgo your chance to win. However, rising up and trying one more time — armed with lessons from past setbacks — is the key to success. Keep striving for better things. Know that one day you will look back at this event, proud of the wisdom, strength, and compassion you demonstrated when things were bad.

Remember, bad situations make for great, inspiring comeback stories.

Featured photo credit: techzia via pixabay.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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