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Published on December 19, 2018

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

I have been discouraged and defeated many times in my life. I have had life deliver blows that have literally knocked me to the ground. The feelings of hopelessness and despair have consumed my life for many months. I wondered if I would ever survive these catastrophic events or if I would ever live a life where I felt happy and safe.

The good news is that slowly over time, my life got better and I got stronger. When I look back on my life I now realize that these “bad life events”, though painful at the time, were the catalysts for me to change my life.

“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under” – Charles Swindoll

The only way for us to live our lives to the fullest is to learn how to persevere and deal with the challenges that life throws at us. I like to call these challenges “the curveballs of life”. Surviving these curveballs and perservering through adversity, pain, the feelings of hopelessness and despair are part of the journey for us to learn about whom we are. There is no other way to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful and optimisitc about life and our future.

Everyone feels discouraged and defeated at some point of on his or her life journey. Some of us find ourselves at this place of despair and we do not know what to do and so we stop growing and thriving in life. We end up living our lives through regret, fear, pain, disillusionment and sadness This is not how we are meant to live our lives.

When you are feeling discouraged and despair and life seems so tough, don’t give up. Use these 7 strategies to help you grow your courage and build your resilience so that you can step up, face the curveballs and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Accept and Anticipate Change on a Daily Basis

In today’s world of constant change, it is hard to hold on to who you are and manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. The one constant thing in our lives today – is change.

Instead of fighting the inevitability of change, learn how to accept it. Embrace change and know that by doing this, your life can only get better. Resisting change will fuel the negative energy that keeps you feeling broken and discouraged about life.

There is no way you can live your life to the fullest without experiencing change. Never stop learning about you, how you interact with others and the world that surrounds you.

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“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

Learn how to be agile in your thinking. Ask lots of questions and look for solutions, don’t just focus on the problem that you are facing. It is a lot harder to solve a problem when you are immersed within the problem itself.

Become a solution seeker because as the Dhali Larma said:

“If a problem can be solved it will be. If it cannot be solved there is no use worrying about it.”

2. Use Your Power of Choice to Liberate You, Not Imprison You

The only thing you have total control over is your power of choice. No one else can take that away from you.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain …. To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life and not to deny my humanity but embrace it” – Kevyn Aucion

When life gets tough and you don’t know what to do next, you still have the power to choose. It is the choices that you make that determines how you react to the tough times in life you are facing. You can choose to do nothing, hide away, allow yourself to be distracted from the issue you need to face, or you can choose to take action and face your problem.

In my experience, the easiest option is to choose to do nothing but it always comes back and bites you big time – in the words of psychologist Carl Jung “what you resist will persist”. Choose to make choices that will enable you to move forward not backwards or around in circles going nowhere.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. A person who chooses to be a solution seeker is a resilient person who is self-aware and will actively seek support, advice and encouragement from other when times are tough.

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Solution seekers value the input of others because it is their wisdom and positive energy that helps solution seekers overcome adversity and keep moving forward in life.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

4. Be Positive and Laugh Lots

For me, this is my secret weapon that helps me to keep going when life gets tough. Having a positive attitude enables us to use our power of choice wisely. It also means that we are hopeful and optimistic about finding a solution or working through the challenges we are facing.

A positive attitude opens up your mind to explore possibilities whereas a pessimistic attitude closes your mind down and encourages you to withdraw yourself from finding your way through the challenges you are facing. With a pessimistic attitude, there is no growth and no learning – there is stagnation in life. A positive attitude is all about learning, growing and thriving in life.

When facing tough times in my life, I will choose to maintain a positive attitude because I know I will end up being stronger, more resilient and more courageous.

Laughter is life’s best way to thrive and flourish in life. To get through the tough times in life, surround yourself with people who make you laugh and like laughing with you. Laughter is contagious and you will soon find that when you are laughing lots you are feeling more alive and hopeful about your future.

5. Embrace the Unpredictability of Life, Don’t Run from Life

Life is a strange and amazing journey, many painful experiences and lots of beauty and joy. Running away from the challenges life presents to us is not the answer to dealing with life. When you run away, the only place you go is nowhere. The pain, the discomfort and challenges of life will follow you wherever you go.

It is okay to fall apart, make mistakes, fail, be disappointed and regretful but you can only stay in this not so great place for a short time.

Resilient people expect to fail and be disappointed. They know that to be strong, one has to overcome the adversity and challenges they face in life. Courageous people choose to “bounce forward” in life and to keep going toward living a happy fulfilled life. There is no other option for resilient people.

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Commit to becoming that courageous resilient person you were born to be.

6. Remember to Focus on the Things in Your Life That Bring You Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain” – Joseph Campbell

When you are feeling despair, frustrated and hopeless, it is easy to forget the good things in your life. If you allow yourself to be consumed by negativity, you will start to believe that there is nothing good in your life. Before you know it, that will become your reality.

If you are having these thoughts, stop immediately and write a list of all the good things that you have experienced and all the things that have brought you joy. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more hopeful you will become.

Showing appreciation to others and expressing gratitude are two actions that will bring joy back into your life. The people who support you and love you are your treasure chest. The more you show appreciation and express gratitude to others (even strangers), the more joyous your life will be.

These two actions are very simple to do and if you repeat on a continuous basis, your life will change – for the better.

7. Don’t Let the Past Rule Your Present Life

Your past is your opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with your present life. However, if you don’t let go of your regrets in life and make peace with your past, it is very hard to move forward in your life.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery and learn how to trust and believe in you. When you are facing tough times in your life, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I can do right now to take me one step closer to moving forward?”

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All you have to remember is to take one step forward and keep repeating that one step. You will soon discover that you closer to finding a solution.

Don’t let all your past mistakes and fears cloud your judgement and diminish your courage. You are not defined by what happened in your past you are who you choose to be now and in the future. Become the courageous empowered resilient person you were born to be.

Final Thoughts

It is understandable that when you are facing the tough times in life, you can become overwhelmed and lost. It is very hard to be hopeful and optimistic about your future when you are consumed by pain and frustration about your life.

However memorize this quote from Abraham Lincolns:

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.”

And use the 7 strategies when facing the tough times in your life and I guarantee you will survive and thrive through the toughest times of your life.

More Resources About Motivation and Positivity

Featured photo credit: Jared Erondu via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever If You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life, Read These 5 Strategies How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

    In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

    Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

    Common Symptoms

    • Unable to trust your own opinion
    • Always overthinking
    • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
    • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
    • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

    Lesser-Known Symptoms

    Being a workaholic

    At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

    It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

    Overachieving or underachieving

    Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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    However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

    Causes of Low Self-Esteem

    Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

    • Frequent punishment
    • Frequent neglect
    • Chronic abuse
    • Harsh parental standards
    • Being bullied/boycotted
    • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
    • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
    • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

    Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

    How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

    “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

    When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

    That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

    How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

    Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

    How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

    So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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    It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

    Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

    When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

    It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

    As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

    Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

    It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

    People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

    During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

    It Can Lead to Depression

    Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

    How to Improve Self-Esteem

    As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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    1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

    Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

    Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

    2. Focus Elsewhere

    “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

    Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

    When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

    According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

    Or you can refer to the graph below:

    5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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      To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

      • Deep connection with loved ones
      • A healthy body
      • Sense of control
      • A meaningful life purpose
      • Recognition and respect from others
      • Sense of security
      • Creativity

      As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

      Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

      To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

      1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
      2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
      3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
      4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
      5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
      6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
      7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
      8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
      9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
      10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

      The Bottom Line

      If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

      How?

      Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

      Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

      Reference

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