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How to Keep Fighting When the Going Gets Tougher

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How to Keep Fighting When the Going Gets Tougher

Life can get tough, but it’s important to keep fighting for the better times. In particular, due to Covid-19, many more people will be struggling with various challenges right now, whether that’s redundancy, illness, inability to move around freely, a reduction in contact with friends and family, or the death of a loved one.

Let’s explore a few ways in which you can keep fighting and get yourself through the difficult times.

1. Meet Your Basic Needs

If there is only one thing you manage to do, ensure your basic needs are met. Our bodies are often very forgiving to us during those odd occasions where we might abuse them, but over the long term, it’s certainly much happier with some simple TLC.

We’re not talking about running a 5K every day. We’re talking about two things:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating regularly

If that’s all you achieve, that will give you the foundation to start fighting when you’re ready. It’s extremely difficult to keep up the fight mentally if you are physically drained. They are interlinked.

It’s okay if all you did today was survive.

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2. Change Any Expectations You Have of Yourself

It is okay to slow down and reduce the number of things you have on your plate. In fact, it’s unrealistic to think that you can perform at your full potential when going through a difficult time.

Understand and accept that you are going through a rough patch and allow yourself to adjust to this period in your life. If you do not understand and accept this, you will undoubtedly feel guilty or disappointed for not being able to perform at the same levels as before. This, in turn, will reduce your ability to keep fighting.

The likelihood is that you will not have the same level of productivity or energy as before. So, reset the bar of what “good” looks like.

There might have been a time where leaving the house wasn’t even something you gave any consideration to. Now? Well, the days you manage to leave the house might be a big accomplishment. Get through each day, one by one, by resetting what success looks like relative to what you’re going through.

3. Tackle the Problem Head on

Once you find small moments of mental or physical energy, use this to start tackling your problems head on.

If you’re grieving over the lost of a loved one, and you’ve been struggling to accept it, start allowing yourself to think of them along with whatever emotions come to surface. Do this in small bursts so that you start allowing your brain to process what has happened without overwhelming yourself.

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Then, once you feel like you’ve exhausted all your energy, go back to focusing on those basics until you’re ready to try again.

If you’ve been made redundant and feel at a dead-end with new opportunities, take small bursts of energy to start reaching out to other people for help: call friends to see if they know of any opportunities at their workplace or walk around locally to see what’s available.

Switch up your approach now and then so that you are not always trying the same thing day in day out, as that can be extremely demotivating.

You might not be lucky right away, but the point here is to be comfortable with small and consistent effort over time so that you do not burn yourself out. It’s better to apply for 100 jobs over the course of 3 months than to apply for 100 jobs on one day and then taking your foot off the gas for the following month. If this happens, the next time you are ready to apply for another 100 jobs, it will seem like a mountain of a task.

4. Be Kind to Yourself

Whatever it is that you’re going through, make it part of your routine to do something every day that makes you happy. Don’t focus on the big, unsustainable gestures like trips abroad, especially if you are experiencing financial difficulties.

Focus on the smaller pleasures in life, like having a cup of really good coffee or a hot bath. Something small and something just for you, every day. Also, remind yourself often what you’re fighting for and why.

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Being kind to yourself will give you that little extra push to keep going[1]. Care about yourself as you would care for a friend going through a similar thing.

5. Remember That Life Is About ups and Downs

Sayings like this are so well ingrained in our minds often because they are true. It might be unhelpful to hear this when you’re on a downwards path because hearing it doesn’t automatically change anything. However, the perspective is important.

You only know what “down” feels like because you’ve previously experienced the “‘up.” The reason why you keep fighting when you’re down is so that you can experience the opposite once more.

6. Reduce Your Exposure to Things That Trigger Negative Emotions

When you’re feeling weak, the last thing you need is to allow into your life are things that trigger negative emotions in you. Cut them all out, whether that’s the news, social media, or unhelpful people in your circle.

This advice stands at all points during your life. It would be wise to remove as many of the things in your life that make you feel worse, but it’s especially true when the going has got tougher because you’re less likely to be able to maintain perspective on your life.

For example, when you’re mentally strong, you might be fine watching the news, which constantly reports on disasters, tragedies, and other negative events, because you know that life is not always like this. But when you’re mentally weak, you might convince yourself that life is all doom and gloom. The news hasn’t changed—your state of mind has.

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Surround yourself with positivity as much as possible. It will make a difference. And if you feel like you might be creating your own negativity, read 7 Powerful Ways to Stop Negative Thinking.

7. Get Help

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you feel like you can’t keep fighting. We’d all like to think we’re capable and strong enough to get through everything, but the reality is that we all need a helping hand sometimes. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Most people find that when they are open and vulnerable with somebody, that person is open and vulnerable in return. It’s also a humbling experience, and one that can allow you to release a lot of anxiety and grief.

Sharing is best done with others who understand what you’re experiencing—whether that’s because they are experiencing the same thing right now or because they’ve experienced the same thing previously. The trick will be finding this person or people.

Think about how guarded you might be about your feelings, and you might realize that other people are the same. We’ve been brought up to think that showing weakness is a negative thing, which is a shame because there is probably somebody out there who could do with your ear as well.

Online forums are a great way to find support because they focus on the problem at hand, and you’ll always find people going through similar issues. You may not get a solution to your troubles, but sometimes just being able to share your feelings is enough.

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Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to maintain the energy to keep fighting when things get tough in life, but by practicing a few of the simple tips above, you can rebuild your mental stamina and get back to fighting for a better life for yourself. Take care of yourself, and then focus on taking care what’s outside of you.

More Tips on Getting Through Tough Times

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] TED Ideas: How to be kinder to yourself

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Nicky Shah

Writer at freedomwanted.com, ex-business exec, University of Oxford - Inspiring you to live more of the life you want

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Last Updated on January 19, 2022

What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

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What Is Fear-Based Motivation And Does It Work?

If you’ve ever thought or said something like this, then you are using fear-based motivation:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, I’m going to be seen as a failure so I better stay up all night to work on this proposal.”
  • “If I speak up for school reform, the internet trolls are going to get me, so I better be quiet even though I care a lot about this issue.”
  • “If I don’t exercise enough, I’m going to look like crap, so I better go to the gym six days a week, even if my body is killing me.”

Fear-based motivation is exactly what it sounds like—getting yourself and others to do things out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

What you might not know is that while fear-based motivation might work in the short term, it can have long-term detrimental effects on your performance, relationships, and well-being.

Is Fear-Based Motivation Helpful?

If using fear as motivation comes naturally for you, you aren’t alone. Our brains use fear to keep us out of trouble. Normally, you want to move away from what feels harmful towards what feels safe.

This brain function is important when there is a genuine threat to your well-being, like if there is a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Your brain will use fear to motivate you to move away from the snake as quickly as possible. But when you use fear-based motivation to accomplish your life and career goals, the constant state of fear puts unnecessary stress on your mind and body and can end up working against you.

The Darkside of Fear-Based Motivation

Take, for example, when your trainer at your gym motivates you during your workout by yelling things like, “Bikini season is coming! You don’t want your cellulite to be the star of the show!” or “Burn off that piece of birthday cake you ate last night!”

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Sure, you might be motivated to do ten more burpees, but what is going on in the back of your mind? You probably have an image of a group of people standing around you at the beach laughing at you in your bikini, or you feel guilty about eating that piece of cake and criticize yourself for not being able to control yourself.

Reliance on Negative Thinking

For most of us, this type of thinking causes stress and can bring down our energy levels and mood. The reliance on negative thinking is the problem with fear-based motivation. It forces us to put our attention on what is wrong or what could go wrong instead of anticipating and celebrating what is right. This, in turn, narrows our focus and prevents us from seeing the bigger picture.

When your brain senses a threat, whether it’s a rattlesnake hiding in the grass or the possibility of being laughed at in your bikini, your brain will move you into a protective stance. Your vision narrows and you prepare to fight, flee or freeze.

You can probably imagine what this looks like in the case of a rattlesnake, but how does this impact your bikini experience?

The High Cost of Fear-Based Motivation

Imagine that you plan a beach vacation with your friends three months from now. The first thing you picture is sitting on the beach with your tummy rolls and cellulite. You immediately sign up for three months of boot camp classes at the gym and banish all sugar and booze from your diet. You are determined not to make a fool of yourself on the beach!

Will the fear of not looking like a supermodel under the beach umbrella motivate you to get in shape and eat better? Possibly. But at what cost?

For three months, every time you picture yourself looking “less than perfect” in your bikini, you feel fear of being ashamed. Shame makes you want to hide, and that makes it harder to find the motivation to go to the gym instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream.

You become so focused on how you are going to look on the beach that you lose out on all the fun and joy of life. You pass up on going shopping with your friends for new outfits because you aren’t at your goal weight yet. You stop doing the things you love to do to spend more time at the gym. You avoid family gatherings where you will be confronted with tempting food. You over-train to the point of hurting yourself.

The Healthier Alternative to Fear-Based Motivation

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in your bikini! If that’s important to you, keep your goal in mind but change the way you motivate yourself. Instead of using the fear of feeling ashamed to motivate you, try using love-based motivation.

Love-based motivation uses love instead of fear to lead and inspire you. It comes from a different part of your brain than fear-based motivation. Love-based motivation comes from the part of your brain that is responsible for joy, creativity, and passion.

5 Questions of Love-Based Motivation

There are many ways to deploy love-based motivation. The trick is to use one or all of the following to motivate you towards your goal: empathy, curiosity, innovation, vision, and heart-centered action.

Here are five questions you can use to motivate yourself using love-based motivation.

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1. What Would You Say to a Friend?

Chances are that you talk to your friends in a much kinder way and with more empathy than you talk to yourself. You wouldn’t tell a friend, “you better starve yourself and hit the gym three times a day to look good in that bikini!” Instead, you would probably say something like, “I’m so excited to go on this vacation with you! I can’t wait to spend time catching up while sipping margaritas on the beach.”

Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your friend.

2. What Are You Curious About Learning That Might Help You Get to Your Goal?

More often than not, achieving our goals is more about the journey it took us to get there than the goal itself. Curiosity makes journeys more fun. Perhaps you are curious about doing a triathlon but you don’t know how to run. If you spend three months learning to run, you would get into better shape and learn something new.

3. How Can You Get to Your Goal in a Way That Feels Good?

Using the “Yes, And” game is a great way to come up with innovative ideas for working towards your goals. If your first instinct is to go to the gym six days a week but you aren’t jazzed about it, find something that you like about that idea and make it better.

For example, if what you like about going to the gym is that you work up a sweat, what if instead of the gym, you join a dance class where you can learn some new moves to show off on your vacation?

4. What Is Important to You About Your Goal?

When you dig into your goal, chances are that you’ll find a deeper meaning. If your goal is to “look good in a bikini,” ask yourself why that’s important to you.

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For example, “I want to look good in my bikini because I want to have fun on vacation.” Then, ask yourself how much having fun on your vacation depends on how you look in your swimsuit.

5. What Heart-Centered Action Can You Take That Will Help You Reach Your Goal?

Whether your goal remains bikini-focused or changes to ways of having a good time on your vacation, choose an action that you can take that feels like it is coming from a place of love instead of fear.

For example, suggest to your friends that you take scuba diving classes as a group before vacation. It will get you moving and bring your friends together.

Long-Term Happiness and Satisfaction

Fear-based motivation may help you achieve your goals in the short term, but it won’t lead to long-term happiness and satisfaction. Fear isn’t designed to be used for long periods, and you will eventually tire of the fear and give up on your goals. Love, however, is designed for longevity.

Finding your motivation in a place of love will fuel you to reach your goals, whether your goals are about feeling good in a bikini, getting a promotion at work, or speaking up for what you believe in.

More Tips on Boosting Motivation

Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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