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.
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.
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.
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.
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