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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

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

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

There are times in life when we feel discouraged or defeated, when life delivers blows that knock us to the ground. The feelings of hopelessness and despair may consume your life for many months as you wonder if you’ll ever get back to feeling happy and safe. This is when it’s important to learn how to persevere.

The good news is that, over time, life can get better, and you can get stronger when you persevere. You’ll likely look back at these “bad life events” and realize they were the catalysts for you to change your life.

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. Surviving these curveballs and persevering through adversity, pain, and feelings of hopelessness and despair are part of the journey for us to learn about who we are. There is no other way to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful, and optimistic about life and our future.

Everyone feels discouraged and defeated at some point on his or her life journey. Some of us find ourselves at this place of despair, and we do not know what to do, 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 life seems tough, don’t give up. Use these 7 strategies to help you grow your courage and how to persevere so that you can step up, face the curveballs, and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Accept and Anticipate Change

In today’s world of constant change, it’s hard to manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. It’s even more difficult to find the motivation to persevere in the face of constant 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 discouraged about life.

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.

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Become a solution seeker because, as the Dalai Lama 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

One of the few things you have total control over is your power of choice. No one else can take that away from you, so use it when you want to learn how to persevere.

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 determine how you react to the tough times 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. 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 others when times are tough[1].

Solution seekers value the input of others because they know others may have wisdom or positive energy to help them overcome adversity and keep moving forward in life.

Afraid to ask for help? You can learn how to begin with this article.

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4. Be Positive and Laugh When You Can

For me, this is my secret weapon that helps me to keep going when I’m not sure how to persevere. Having a positive attitude enables us to use our power of choice wisely.

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.

If you have a hard time cultivating a positive attitude, consider trying mindfulness meditation. This can help you create space in your mind to root our negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

Laughter is life’s best way to thrive 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

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

It’s okay to fall apart, make mistakes, fail, and be disappointed, but you can only stay in this place for a short time. If you have a goal in mind, keep working to achieve your goal, despite the failures.

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 moving toward living a happy fulfilled life.

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

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6. Focus on Things 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 frustrated and hopeless, it’s 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 really want to learn how to persevere, 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.

One study found that gratitude was “demonstrated to be associated with increase in happiness, life satisfaction and social desirability”[2]. These all contribute to more resilience.

A great way to practice gratitude is by starting a gratitude journal. You can begin by writing three things each day that you’re grateful for. You can learn other ways to practice gratitude with this article.

7. Don’t Let the Past Rule Your Present

Your past presents an opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with in 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 yourself. When you are facing tough times in your life, ask yourself this question:

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

All you have to remember is to take one step forward and keep repeating that one step. You will soon discover that you are closer to finding a solution. Remember, you’ve done difficult things before and have come out on the other side.

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 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.

When you want to learn how to persevere and overcome the bad days, use the 7 strategies above to help you keep moving forward to get to your finish line.

More on How to Persevere

Featured photo credit: Guilherme Stecanella via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kathryn Sandford

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

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Critical (And How to Strike a Balance)

It is easy to hear the term “self-critical” and be immediately put off. After all, it’s difficult to be our own critics. However, utilizing self-criticism means taking a more self-aware path to ensure that you aren’t overlooking any possible areas of self-improvement.

Self-criticism affects your self-esteem and can be a useful tool to identify patterns of weakness that you can look to eradicate by adapting your behavior.

Self-Criticism Vs Self-Deprecation

In exploring the idea of self-criticism, one has to first consider what it means for the individual. It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between being self-critical and being self-deprecating.

Self-deprecation is the act of putting oneself down, sometimes in an attempt to be humorous, but oftentimes out of a place of doubt and insecurity[1].

Self-deprecation erodes one’s confidence. It isn’t something to use lightly, as your own self-talk will play a part in defining your existence and how you are perceived, and, more importantly, in how you perceive yourself.

At the same time, you can’t take yourself so seriously that you are unable to make light of your mistakes as you pursue self-improvement. There is, of course, a balance to be struck, and both self-criticism and self-deprecation can be utilized in moderation.

Learning the difference between the two is the key to pursuing a productive life that will allow your successes to compound and your failures to be reduced. While self-deprecation can highlight flaws in your approach to life, self-criticism is more concerned with addressing those flaws and then acting to correct them.

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Self-Criticism: A Roadmap for Positive Change

Self-evaluation as a tool can open your eyes to the problematic behaviors that are derailing your goals. By identifying those behaviors, you can identify the steps to become the best version of yourself.

“Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” -Amy Morin[2]

This idea underlines the importance of not allowing self-criticism to blur into the realm of self-deprecating behavior. That will only work against you as you are attempting to constructively analyze your own behavior.

Auditing is necessary and good. Look at industries across the board and you will find that the most successful companies, people, and products have worked hard to refine their final output. Auditing your life, schedule, clients, contacts, and more will help you to identify the good from the bad.

If you don’t look back on what you’ve done and allow yourself to be self-critical of the areas that created more problems and less results, how will you learn how to avoid those missteps in your future endeavors?

Auditing with critical thoughts will allow you to build your own map to success by targeting behaviors that are ineffective in your pursuit of goals, and it will help you realize the changes that need to take place in order to correct for those inefficiencies.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Opens Your Eyes to Areas of Improvement

In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now.

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At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

You can check out this TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness:

We all need to look in the mirror at times and work to identify the deficiencies in our own behavior in order to find room for improvement. So many people live their lives in a manner that allows no room for self-reflection and thus are missing out on key opportunities.

For example, many people complain about not having the money to save for retirement, but instead of working to identify a solution, they assume that it cannot be fixed. Some of those individuals might find that if they challenge themselves and open themselves up to criticism, they may find the source of their problem.

Perhaps they don’t have a proper budget in place and are spending more money than they bring in on a week-to-week basis. Being self-critical would help them realize this.

I’d argue that if we all spent more energy evaluating our place in life, how we got there, and where we want to go, it would clear up what is missing from the equation.

Self-Criticism Allows You to Realize Your Potential

By working to analyze your own behaviors and identify areas that need to be improved upon, you will be able to better strive to reach your full potential in life and unlock success.

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Being self-critical will help you to go from where you are now to where you want to be, and it will increase your self-awareness. There are so many positives to be gained by adopting a self-critical attitude.

Read more about self-improvement: 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself

The Cons of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism Can Overemphasize Negatives

The problems that could arise if one is overly self-critical are not always clear, but there are a few issues that can pop up if you start being too hard on yourself.

If you are self-critical too often and don’t allow space in your own audit of yourself for praise, celebration, and reassurance in your victories, then you may be on a path of negative self-talk and perhaps even depression.

If you are constantly looking for what is wrong with your actions or pursuits while failing to see what you are doing right, then you aren’t utilizing self-criticism properly. While the line is thin, there is definitely a difference between appropriate, foundation-building self-criticism, and over-zealous, confidence-eroding self-deprecation.

Self-Criticism Can Lead to Negative Distortions of Yourself

One struggle I often see in individuals is with their own perception of self. If you have been raised to believe that you are a failure, for example, then you may not have a healthy expectation of yourself.

By being overly self-critical, you might be distorting your own self-image. The key here lies in utilizing the device of self-criticism correctly, which many people often do not do.

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If utilized properly, self-criticism can be a fantastic tool, but if used incorrectly, it can have devastating effects on your own self-worth and confidence.

Final Thoughts

When used properly, self-criticism can be a tool for success.

We must work hard to ensure that we are in fact exercising a constructive analysis of our own behavior and not falling into self-deprecation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though many view the idea of being self-critical with a negative connotation. However, it can be an extremely positive and fruitful exercise if pursued with the right mindset.

It helps tremendously when you have a community of friends and family who also help to uplift you and encourage you as you are pursuing your dreams in life.

In evaluating your own situation and in attempting to constructively self-criticize, you should also take a look at the people you surround yourself with to try and better understand if those individuals are helping you in your aspirations or if they are holding you back as you work to better yourself.

“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn[3]

If you work to adopt a healthy version of self-criticism and avoid allowing it to delve into self-deprecation or self-doubt, then it will serve you well as a tool to lend support to your goals and aspirations.

More Tips About Building Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Elijah O’Donnell via unsplash.com

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