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Published on May 19, 2020

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

Would you consider your perspective helpful or detrimental to your ability to achieve your goals? Do you feel optimistic in the most difficult of situations or do you tend to be more pessimistic in the best of times?

Most people fall somewhere in the middle and feel good when things are good and poorly when things are tough. A person’s ability to change perspectives through challenging situations is one of the best measures of one’s potential to be successful.

Think of your perspective like your attitude or mindset in life. If you have a negative attitude, you tend to have a negative perspective on life. Whether your perspective is justified by past events or not is not the focus.

Similarly, if someone grew up believing they have the Midas touch and everything just seems to “go right” for them is irrelevant. Your goal should be to build a mindset that enables you to succeed in life, regardless of the situation.

1. Keep Your Head Up

Someone with a fixed mindset believes there are a lucky few who are blessed with the right genes to become successful.

Studies show someone with a fixed mindset is ill-equipped to tackle many of life’s challenges. [1] They see failure and difficulty as a sign that they are doing the wrong thing.

You may have heard someone explaining why something was not meant for them by talking about how it didn’t come naturally. This perspective cripples the ability of many from reaching their full potential.

Someone with a growth mindset has a different perspective on life. They believe everyone can learn and build the skills necessary to achieve their goals.

They see failure as a sign that their approach was wrong, not as a sign they were wrong. As a result, they will regularly try new things until they achieve their goal.

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Inventors are a classic example of a growth mindset. Their perspective about negative situations is that it is nothing more than a problem they have yet to solve. They see each negative event as being one step closer to success.

2. Change Perspective From the Inside-Out

For you to change perspective about negative events in your life, you first need to change the way you talk to yourself. What you say to yourself regularly will have an impact on the actions you take.

Consider someone who unexpectedly had their employment terminated. If their mind is full of negative self-talk, then they are telling themselves how inadequate they are.

People who believe they will always be a failure are not going to interpret events the same as people who see themselves as successful. There are instances where negative situations are created, in part, due to the negative statements you tell yourself.

In the situation of someone losing their job, what if they constantly told themselves, “my boss doesn’t like me”?

Do you think it will help or hurt someone’s interaction with their boss? How would this perspective impact the times their boss is nice to them? Or how do you think they would respond to constructive criticism?

3. Don’t Open Yourself Up to More Negativity

As you are probably starting to realize, if you don’t change perspective about the negative events in your life, you are opening yourself up to creating more.

If you believe your boss has a negative opinion about you, then you think they are being fake when they are nice to you. You think they are nitpicking or complaining about small things when they offer constructive criticism.

By continuing to negatively interpret events due to negative self-talk, you will continue to produce undesired results.

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Now imagine if you told yourself your boss has your best interests at heart and is only trying to bring the best out of you. That simple change in your perspective better equips you to deal with the perceived negative events in your life.

When your boss offers you constructive criticism, you believe they are investing in your growth. When your boss is nice to you, you welcome the behavior because you see them as your friend and colleague.

When you change perspective, the same events that could have led to failure now work to your benefit.

Focus on What Matters

Your brain can only focus on so many things each day.[2]. As a result, your mind will automatically filter out information it believes is unimportant to you.

A common example of this is when you purchase a new vehicle and you suddenly notice that vehicle everywhere. It is not that everyone purchased the vehicle the same day you did, it was that your mind was blocking the information. It did not believe that a particular make and model car was important to you until you purchased it.

For you to change perspective about negative situations in your life, you must change your daily focus. As was the case when you purchased a new vehicle, you can alter the events your mind recognizes.

Instead of focusing on negative events and how bad things are in life, focus on the things you are grateful for.

4. Find the Silver Lining

It is not always easy, but you can train your mind to focus on what you love most about life.

One great way to train your mind to focus on what you love in life is to create a happiness journal. The way it works is every time something good happens, you write it down in your happiness journal.

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These events could be as simple as you woke up on time or ate a healthy lunch. They could revolve around the effort you put in at work to complete a project. Heck, you could even write about your commitment to stay positive throughout the day. Any event that can be celebrated should be celebrated.

Then when a negative situation occurs, you can flip open your journal to change perspective. Remind yourself how blessed and fortunate you are when you feel you have nothing to celebrate in life.

Read about your successes when you feel you can’t do anything right. Creating a happiness journal will significantly change your perspective about yourself and your life.[3]

5. Become a Guardian Angel

The final way to change perspective about negative situations in your life is to help others. An amazing thing will happen when you start to spend more time focusing on the needs of others.

First, you will feel better about yourself because of how positively others view you. Next, you will begin to realize that while everything is not perfect in life, it could always be worse.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “first world problems”?

It is a funny way to help put negative situations into the proper perspective. While all negative events are unpleasant, there is most certainly a difference.

If you have an inconsiderate boss, while that can make work unpleasant on many occasions, it is still a blessing to have employment. Others feel that their spouse is irresponsible with money, but at least you have a spouse who loves you.

My daughter often talks about the fact that she has an older cellphone, but I have to remind her that she is blessed to have a cell phone at her age.

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6. Challenge Yourself

There is rarely going to be a situation where you cannot find someone going through a negative situation. The problem most people face is they are too busy focusing on the negative events in their life to notice the negative events going on in the lives of others.

When you change perspective from yourself to others, you begin to realize there are a lot of people going through their own negative events, yet they are maintaining a positive perspective about life.

They continue to be grateful for the good things they have. And they understand many of the negative situations they have are tied to blessings – meaning they cannot experience the joy without opening themselves up to the possibility of experiencing pain.

Final Thoughts

To change perspective about negative situations is not about pretending negative things don’t happen, because they do. It is not about always smiling and pretending that everything is wonderful because that isn’t always the case.

Changing your perspective is about acknowledging that negative situations occur, but they do not necessarily cause your demise. You can learn from any situation, and you can always find something to be grateful for. When you train your mind to focus on the things you can control and the things going right in your life, you create an unconquerable resolve to create your dream life.

You acknowledge that difficult does not mean impossible, and you are therefore able to prevail where most people accept defeat.

Learn to Change Your Perspective

Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

10 Ways to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Whenever you hit a rough patch in life, it can seem like the problems you’re confronting are unique to you and that the whole world is closing in. It might be that you are struggling to find a way out and just can’t see the light of hope anywhere when the going gets tough.

Thankfully, although you might not see it, there is always hope. Nothing lasts forever—not even bad times—and doing things like remembering why you started in the first place and practicing using your courage muscle are just a couple of things that can shorten the difficult times.

If you could find a way to not only survive but thrive when the going gets tough, how would your life change for the better?

Here are ten ways you can do to make that happen today.

1. Realize How Far You Have Come

Whenever you get discouraged on the path to wherever you want to go, it is usually because you are only looking forward, not around you or behind you. Your journey through life will last until your final day, so it is no wonder that you still see a long and sometimes daunting path ahead.

To keep going despite this, it’s important to take a moment or two to look around. Look at where you are standing now compared to when you first started. Look at how far you have come since you first began. Look at how many obstacles and challenges are behind you that you managed to overcome successfully.

The benefits of reflective practice are also extensive, and it is little wonder why.[1]

Looking back at how far you have come is usually the fire you need to keep on burning brightly into the future.

2. Remember Why You Started

When the going gets tough, you need something to cling to in order to keep your grit and remind yourself why you started doing something in the first place. Without this all-important “why, you will be quick to wander from your path.

Whenever things are at their worst, your number one reason for doing the thing is going to be what pulls you through.

As ex-Navy Seal and motivation master David Goggins puts it:

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“‘Why am I here?’ If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped to make the split-second decision to ignore your weakened mind and keep moving. Know why you’re in the fight to stay in the fight!”

Sometimes, life can be a bit of a fight, especially within yourself. So, having your reasons for continuing will always help pull you out when times are tough. Try writing these down and posting them in places you look at every day to help them have even more impact.

3. Make It a Habit to Move Forward

Habits are some of the strongest behavioral predictors that we have. Most of our habits happen in our subconscious and are triggered by external or internal cues.

The great thing about habits is that they can be formed through conscious, repeated behaviors, and when practiced enough, they can eventually take their place in the subconscious and guide your life.

Of course, you want good habits to be guiding your life in the background, not bad ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it a habit to always move forward.

Contrary to what most people say, moving forward doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be better every single day for the rest of your life. There are going to be slip-ups, bad days, and circumstances that blow you off course.

Moving forward is all about getting back on track as fast as possible. If you can make that a habit, you can always get closer to where you want to go.

4. Use ‘If-Then’ Planning

When the going gets tough in your life, one of the most effective frameworks that you can put into place is called the ‘if-then’ planning.

This is the simplified version of something called Implementation Intention, a concept created by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the mid-’90s.[2] It helps you to make sense of confusing situations and to be able to take action when you are really struggling.

The simplified process is as follows:

“If x happens, I will do y.”

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For example:

“If I start to have negative thoughts, I will take ten seconds to just breathe.”

“If I feel extremely stressed for three days in a row, I will take the fourth day off to recover and reset.”

If-then planning puts a strategy in place for when times are tough. It takes away the element of thinking, planning, and worrying as you already know exactly what you need to do in each situation.

The beauty of using if-then is that you can change the if and then for different situations based on whatever works best for you at any given moment.

5. Find Some Mentors

With the internet becoming more expansive and accessible as it has ever been, there are so many ways to get a peek into the world’s top minds and see what they do in their own lives when the going gets tough.

Most successful people have had to overcome some serious struggles to get to where they are. Do a simple search online, and you will no doubt find out about all of the challenges that your favorite people have had to overcome.

Because of this, you should try to take inspiration from these people and find your own mentors. It’s worth recognizing that nobody trying to live their best life can ever get through it without their fair share of challenges to overcome. That’s just part of the hero’s journey.

6. Get out of Your Head

Sometimes, all of the reasoning, thinking, planning, and ruminating in the world doesn’t get you anywhere. In fact, for the serial thinkers and problem-solvers out there, it is oftentimes that too much time in your head results in even more struggle rather than a release of it.

Yes, some things can be solved by thinking. But when the going gets really tough, it is usually just pure heart, emotion, and grit that are going to carry you through. Your mind can become a tyrant, and it is worth being aware of this.

When you feel your own thoughts weighing you down and can’t stop the incessant thinking and worrying about the past, present, and/or future, it is time to step out of your mind for a little while and get into your body. Lift some weights, go for a run, or take a pleasant walk.

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The mind and body are much more connected than most people think—especially when it comes to emotions and fears and doing something beneficial for the body often benefits the unsettled mind as well.[3]

7. Ruthlessly Forgive Yourself

One of the worst things you can do when the going gets tough is to come down hard on yourself. Everyone has these external and internal struggles, and the harder you are on yourself for having them, the more difficult and traumatic the episodes will be when you inevitably slip up.

A lot of people are far harder on themselves than they are on other people, and to keep going in tough times, you need to be just as empathetic with yourself as you would be with your best friend.

Made a mistake? Forgive. Are you still giving yourself a hard time? Forgive. Are you still getting angry over small things “even though we talked about this”? Forgive.

The hard times are much easier to get through when you are at peace with yourself. You will be astonished by how much less pressure you feel when this happens.

8. Take Smaller Steps

It is common for people to stumble in life because they are simply taking on too much at once. Whether it be too much ambition, unrealistic expectations of themselves or others, or some extra curveballs, big steps can sometimes be too much to take.

The truth about big steps is that they are rare, disruptive, and difficult to keep up without crumbling. The big steps—the real life-changing goals and dreams that you have—can often be broken into much smaller steps that are more manageable and that will get you to the same place.

If the going is getting particularly tough, it might be the case that you are simply trying to do too much at once. Try taking smaller, more manageable steps, and see if obstacles and difficulties become easier to navigate.

9. Use Twenty Seconds of Insane Courage

Everyone will agree that the courage we have stored within ourselves is often finite and difficult to sustain for long periods. We tend to think that making a big change in our life and getting out of a rut requires courage for long periods that we simply cannot manage.

The good news is that this isn’t true. Most of the pivotal moments of change in your life—including pulling yourself out of a hole when the going gets tough—come from small, courageous decisions in short, precise moments.

Quite often, using twenty seconds of insane courage when it is needed is enough to completely change the trajectory of our lives. Whether it be asking for that promotion, deciding to go to the gym for the first time in months, or having the courage to break through your insecurities and ask someone out, most of these only require a few seconds of insane courage.

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Standing up and walking into your boss’s office, getting the gym kit on, picking up the phone or sending the text—you only have to be courageous in these few moments, and then you can relax and let life unfold.

Twenty seconds? You can do that, easily.

10. Accept That Your Motivation Will Wane

One of the main reasons that people get discouraged and struggle to keep going in hard times is that they never expected their motivation to dip.

When we start a project or enter a relationship or take something new and exciting on in our lives, our motivation is high, and we are in a mindset of excitement. We start thinking about all of the positives that could come from these things.

However, as time wears on, motivation levels inevitably drop, and you start to focus on the negatives of what’s happening or the added responsibility that you forgot to consider.

When this happens, you have two choices:

  1. You can put on your rose-colored glasses of the past and falsely remember how perfect everything was;
  2. Or you can put on your realistic glasses, face the difficulties, and keep moving forward into something better.

The true test of character comes when you hit a dip, motivation wanes, and you just don’t feel like doing stuff anymore. The secret is to realize that all of this is temporary and that you don’t need motivation to act.

It’s nice to have motivation, but the true test of character comes when motivation inevitably wanes. In those moments, will you keep going?

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Each of these ten ideas for how to keep going when the going gets tough is versatile enough to be applied to almost any difficult situation that you find yourself in.

Life is going to present many difficulties. This isn’t something to fear but something to embrace. With these steps, you can navigate these stormy waters a little easier.

More Inspirations to Help You Stay Strong

Featured photo credit: Gaelle Marcel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: What Is Self-Reflection and Why It Matters For Wellness
[2] American Psychologist: Implementation Intentions: Strong Effects of Simple Plans
[3] The International Journal of Psychoanalysis: Emotional Processing: The Mind-Body Connection

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