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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 November 6, 2020

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The human feeling of wanting to achieve more is a shared one and, consequently, so does the sense of feeling defeated. Things don’t always work out as planned, and we then feel beat down and sometimes downright downtrodden.

This feeling is something that every achiever human-being feels once in a while. The good news is that there are proven science-based ways to help take back the power. It’s not possible to continually win without experiencing a loss, and the way we react to failure is what defines us.

There are (sadly) many practical examples—from battling a bad habit (did anyone say Netflix binge on a Tuesday night?) or even an addiction to dealing with a boss you don’t like who makes every day seem like it will never end. It might be other issues that make you feel like Sisyphus, the Greek god who was forced to push a massive rock up a hill for eternity as a punishment, doing the hard work and not being rewarded for it.

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone; Churchill and Lincoln were also defeated.

Fortunately, we’ve found some fantastic examples of ‘defeated’ people who made a remarkable comeback—showing that character is at least as important as talent. One of those people is none other than Winston Churchill. Most of us know that he saved his country and potentially the rest of the world during World War II, but we tend to forget that he famously stated, “I am finished” almost 20 years before that—when he was 40.

He had lost the Gallipoli battle, and everything seemed to indicate that he would go down in history like the rest of us: unknown. However, his plan to come back to the forefront of politics succeeded (only to lose the election after the war, and then win again). He was feeling defeated but he managed to bounce back.

There are other examples of leaders who experienced loss and then made a remarkable comeback. Abraham Lincoln is known as a former US president, but no one remembers that he was defeated in elections for the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years before that. Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of Europe, only to be exiled (and then come back and then go into exile again).

Most of us are not ruling Europe or the US, but you get the point—you win some, you lose some—and you should never give up on your goals and dreams. This isn’t relevant only to famous historical characters. The human spirit is measured when it’s at its weakest and in need of finding strength.

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Personally speaking, I experienced a tragedy, having to watch my father die in front of me when I was 25. Less than an hour later, as I was in the hospital, I told myself that nothing would break me, and I embarked on a journey to save other people’s lives with Safe Lane, a non-profit I started to prevent car accidents. It is what we do that defines us, and not what happens to us. It’s how we deal with feeling defeated that defines who we are.

Feeling Defeated Is Not Your Fault

Research shows that feeling defeated is not your fault. The deep-rooted feeling of defeat is validated in research. For example, studies of animal species with dominance hierarchies showed that after losing in non-lethal fighting, the animals that lost showed signs of depression.[1] Other studies suggest that defeat and feelings of entrapment are associated with depression and anxiety. Sadly, it happens to humans as well.

Research also suggests that it hurts the poor more than others. In a study conducted in economically deprived areas in England, over half of the people felt defeated. They experienced feelings of entrapment.[2]

The research also proved a connection to anxiety and depression, showing that this feeling impairs the mental health of those living in more impoverished areas. The clear connection between where you live and how you feel is disheartening, as it makes clear that some populations are inherently more prone to suffering than others.

9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The good news is that there are pretty good solutions one can use to fight this horrible feeling. Some of them can provide immediate improvement, while others help within a matter of weeks.

Here are 9 ways to take back your power when you’re feeling defeated in life.

1. Write a Gratitude Journal

Once a day, take three minutes to write down two things you’re grateful for. It might seem like a childish thing to do, but investing time in a gratitude journal has been scientifically proven to be helpful. Taking a note for yourself of the good things in your life makes you appreciate them more, and this kind of positive thinking also helps your brain change patterns.

According to a study conducted in Berkeley, students who wrote a gratitude letter to their peers had “significantly better mental health 4 weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns.”[3]

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Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, proved that participants who took the time to write about the good things in their lives had a huge increase in happiness scores.

2. Take Regular Breaks

When you’re working too hard, it can sometimes feel good because you’re pushing your limits. Nonetheless, you can’t work without taking breaks. Your energy is limited, and there have been a few studies proving this.

According to numerous researches, “taking a break can be very beneficial for you and your work. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks, and longer breaks have all been shown to affect well-being and productivity positively. By taking regular breaks, you can boost your performance.”[4]

3. Find Yourself a Mentor

I’ve personally found this to be very helpful. Every issue that you’re going through has been experienced by someone before you, so learn from that. Having a mentor reduces stress and helps you both practically understand how to handle the situation and emotionally put things in perspective. It also helps remind you that you’re not alone.

According to UNL, “mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate graduate school success and beyond. Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success. Research shows that students who experience good mentoring also have a greater chance of securing academic tenure-track positions or greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside the university.”[5]

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools that are widely available today through the use of apps such as Calm and Headspace. There have also been countless books written about them. One of them is “Wherever You Go, There You Are:  Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s. By being present, you can control where your energy goes.

I used to be a skeptic, but I have learned that it’s helpful to meditate when you need a moment. Countless studies have proven that breathing helps build resilience. Just by breathing slowly and deeply, our body knows when to enter into a relaxation mode.

We’re living at a time that makes us feel overwhelmed. We have too much on our plate and sometimes, we’re in a position that doesn’t immediately allow us to solve the problem at hand.

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Don’t worry—by meditating, breathing, or just trying to relax, you can understand what to do by letting your mind some time to think and improve. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article!

5. Your Self-Talk Is More Crucial Than Ever

Our thoughts and beliefs can sometimes be discouraging. Many people tend towards a negativity bias, which means that we’re prone to notice negative thoughts and emotions more than positive and neutral ones. This is where self-talk comes in.

Using self-talk to analyze whether your perceptions are helping you or not and whether they’re an accurate representation of reality can help you understand that things may not be as bad as you think. Research shows that this is, in fact, often the case.

It’s a good habit to also remember to be kind to yourself. Some of us sometimes forget the crucial ingredient of self-compassion. It also might be a good idea to motivate yourself by watching others—Youtube might be a good place for that.

Here’s an excellent example:

6. Educate Yourself

For whatever of life’s hurdles you’re currently facing, there’s an answer that someone else has already thought of. Google Scholar or even just plain old Google can help you find proven methods to deal with what’s bothering you. Educate yourself about your situation and learn what can and cannot work for you. Knowledge is power, indeed.

7. Don’t Obsess About What Happened

One of the proven ways to help sports teams stay on track is not overthinking the future and not getting stuck in the past. It’s useless to obsess about what already happened, and at worst, it can only harm your mental and emotional well-being.

One psychological way to think about that is the radical acceptance approach, which is pretty self-explanatory. It means that you should accept what happened and instead, think about what you should do moving forward.

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According to the NYU School of Medicine, “past experiences shape what we see more than what we are looking at now.”[6] So, it’s not easy to fight that. But it is also possible to change it by radical acceptance and growth mindset methods.

8. Create a Vision for Your Life

Another method for dealing with daily hardships is to think like an organization and create your life vision. When you understand your goals and purpose, it’s easier to not sweat as much as some of the difficulties on the way.

According to “Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice” by Francis J. Greene,

“Effective strategic management begins with the organization clearly articulating its vision for the future. The organization’s vision refers to the broad category of long-term intentions that the organization wishes to pursue. It is broad, all-inclusive, and futuristic (Ireland et al., 2009)”.

It is imperative to understand your vision and implement it in your daily life to keep your balance.

9. Stay Healthy: Exercise and Eat Well

You don’t have to run a marathon. Simply walking or doing any other type of physical activity you enjoy can help pump things up and make you feel better physically and emotionally. Exercise can help you overcome depression and improve your mental health. It also enables you to feel in control in some cases, and that’s a powerful tool for someone who’s feeling defeated.

Healthy eating and keeping yourself hydrated goes a long way. Sleeping more than 7 hours each night is also super helpful for improving your physical and mental well-being.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to feel defeated in life sometimes. After all, we all have our unique struggles and challenges along our journey in life. The important thing is that you learn how to face these roadblocks in your life. Whenever you’re feeling defeated in life, you can start with these 9 ways to gain back power and control in your life.

More Tips When You’re Feeling Defeated in Life

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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