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Running From Problems Makes Life Harder: 4 Steps To Face Everything Bravely

Running From Problems Makes Life Harder: 4 Steps To Face Everything Bravely

When thinking about problem avoidance, I cannot help but remember working on my master’s thesis a few years ago. Just thinking about the amount of work I would have to put in gave me panic attacks. So, I did what we do best – procrastinate. It’s funny how easily our mind comes up with millions of excuses when we are faced with a big challenge. For me it was always one dumb thing after another. I was always tired from work; I always had some house chore that couldn’t wait and left me feel exhausted so I had to postpone my writing; or there was an event to go to that I simply couldn’t miss. And so the months went on and I couldn’t force myself to stay on the task for more than half an hour a day. When I finally spent all of my excuses, I realized that how far behind I was with my schedule, and that I would have to work harder than ever before in order to finish everything on time. Those three weeks of not getting enough sleep, feeling tired at work, and working day and night on my thesis left me feeling stressed and anxious. But, more importantly, once I actually started working on my assignment, I realized how much I actually enjoy it. As the momentum was building up, I managed to face each challenge as it came, realizing that nothing was as difficult as I imagined it in my head.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my story to some degree. It is because our brains are simply wired to run away from problems and difficulties. Most of us are so well trained in avoiding problems, that we do it unconsciously, by default, each time we are faced with a task or a problem that seems challenging or time-consuming. It doesn’t matter if it is about working on bigger projects or doing simple tasks, such as paying bills, or taxes, our minds threat them equally if they bring any kind of discomfort. And, so our lives turn into a stressful, never-ending vicious cycle of constant struggle to finish everything on time, and we never get to the important things either. Little kids are tolerated with this kind of behavior, to some degree. But as grown-ups, if we want to constantly improve and grow as persons, we need to find ways to break free from this bad habit. One of the best approaches for dealing with problem avoidance is The Face Everything Technique that can be implemented in four simple steps:

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1. Stay in the now

Most of the time, we avoid problems without even being aware of it. By the time we realize what we are doing, the duties have already piled up, making it all the more difficult to manage. The best way to start being aware and mindful, is to start practicing being in the now. Meditation is one of the most helpful techniques for being present and clearing your mind from all the noise. Once you start practicing being in the present moment, you will become much more aware of your thoughts as they come. This way, you will be able to recognize the avoiding thoughts as they start and you would be able to stop them on time. Also, in order to become more aware, make sure to turn off all of the distractions, such as social media notifications.

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2. Make peace with the “negative”

Now that you are able to recognize your thoughts and emotions as they appear, don’t be afraid of the “negative” emotions that appear once you are faced with the object of discomfort. Try to acknowledge them instead, as it is the only way to eventually overcome them. In those moments tell yourself that it is okay to feel frightened and worried, but that is not a reason to go and distracts yourself with something more pleasant at the moment.

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3. Take action

The only way to truly overcome something is to face it head on. This is probably the most difficult step as it requires us to actually do something with the problem in hand. The great news is that it gets much easier once you complete the first two steps, and the more you practice the entire technique, the easier and more natural it gets. Another great aspect of starting an action is that it tends to pick up momentum and soon it gets much faster and easier, not to mention the self-esteem boost you will experience when you get past the initial challenges. Keep in mind the words of the great Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

4. Get support

It was quite a revelation for me to find out that my friends and loved ones were going through same struggles as me when it comes to running from problems and unpleasant situations. Sharing it with them made me feel less alone in my efforts to stay on the right track and face my problems. It worked both ways, as they found the same amount of support in me. Open up to your closest group of friends and family as they are probably facing it too. You can remind each other to stay focused and brave through each problem and demanding task, and help each other grow as human beings.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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