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10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Difficult Times

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Get Through Difficult Times

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. But it’s the difficult times where we need a little more support and guidance.

I’m a firm believer that it’s how you respond in your moments of defeat that really defines the type of person you are.

When you can improve your ability to navigate the difficult times, you not only live a happier life, but you also grow as person. Here’s how to make that happen in your life.

1. Stay Positive

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir

Now I know this may sound cliche, but the thing about cliches is that they’re typically true. Staying positive is only a small part in getting through the difficult times, but it’s an important part.

When you stay positive, you’re putting yourself in the best position possible to not only make it through those bad times, but become a better person in the process.

You can do one of two things when life takes a turn for the worst. You can remain positive and remind yourself that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you’ll make it through, or you can curl up in the fetal position and relegate yourself to being nothing more than a victim of circumstance.

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I’m not saying that you can never have a bad day, or get a little discouraged, or shed a tear. But I am saying you have to eventually pick up the pieces and start moving forward.

2. Get Creative

There are times when you can’t do much to change your situation. You just have to deal with it. But there are other times when you can actively work to make the situation better.

The solution won’t be in plain sight, because if it was you probably wouldn’t have gotten in that situation in the first place. But if you can take a step back and see the bigger picture, you may discover somethings that can help you.

A great example of getting creative during a difficult time is the story behind Wrigley’s gum. The founder, William Wrigley Jr. was a soap and baking powder salesman in the 1890’s and he always offered free gum to all of his clients. With his career as a salesman taking a turn for the worst, he noticed one thing that forever changed his life; people loved the gum he gave away more than the products he was actually selling. It was that one creative insight that got him through that difficult time and made him a monumental success.

3. Learn From the Difficult Times

“Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional” – John Maxwell

When I find myself in middle of an ugly situation, I like to pick everything apart and see what went wrong and what I could’ve done differently. I always end up learning something that helps me and I eventually get a really clear picture of what I need to do to make sure I’m not in the same situation again. Or if I do find myself in a similar situation, I know what to do to minimize the difficulty of the situation.

It’s easier getting through a difficult time when you know the chances of it happening again are slim to none.

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4. Change It Up

After you identify the key takeaways from your difficult time, you just need to make a change. If it’s a change you can implement immediately, do it. You don’t want be in the middle of a difficult situation longer than necessary. If it’s something that you can’t implement right now, take note of it so you can use it when the the situation calls for it.

But it’s pointless to learn from the difficult times if what you learned doesn’t directly affect your actions.

I’ve really come to embrace the difficulties and struggles that life hands me because I know there’s a silver lining in each one of them. You’re a lot more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

5. Know What You’re Grateful For

Gratitude means showing appreciation for all the good in your life, instead of focusing on the negative. Get clear about what it is that you’re grateful for.

Write out everything in your life you can think of that you’re grateful for having or experiencing. An even more powerful exercise is to think of the one person you’re most grateful for, and write a note explaining why you’re so grateful for having that person. Then give him or her a call and read that note to them.

The difficult time you’re going through will start to seem less significant when it’s compared to everything that’s going right in your life.

6. Focus on What You Can Control, Not What You Can’t

Some situations are beyond your control and no matter what you do, you can’t change a thing. You’re setting yourself up for frustration when you focus your time and energy on things you can’t control. You’re also making the situation seem even more bleak than it actually is because you’re focusing on the negatives.

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You should instead focus on the things that are within your control because that’s the only way you can make a change that’s actually going to help you. Make a list of everything you can control about the situation and divert all of your focus towards those things. Anything that’s not on the list, doesn’t get any attention.

7. Realize You’ve Come a Long Way

Sometimes we get so focused on the road ahead, that we never look back to see what we’ve already traveled. Give yourself credit for everything you’ve already done.

You’ll give yourself a confidence boost when you realize that you’ve already made so much progress and the light at the end of the tunnel will get brighter.

8. Build Up Your Community

Having the right people around you is one of the most important things you can do for yourself when the times get tough. You want to surround yourself with people who are loving, caring, honest, and available.

You need them to be loving because a little love always makes the bad days seem a little brighter. You need them to be caring because it helps to have someone who cares about your well being as much as you do.

But you also need them to be honest. You need someone who can look you in the eye tell you truth. Their honesty may be that one piece of information you need to get through the tough time.

And you need them to be available. When you pick up the phone looking for some compassion or honesty, it helps to have someone who’s actually going to answer.

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Community is also important because it helps to have someone who understands what it is that you’re going through and can relate to your situation. If you can find a community who has been through what you’re going through, you can find out how they made it and then apply that to your own life.

9. Be Kind to Yourself

You need to care for yourself to survive tough times. Take a walk through the park, lift some weights, read an amazing book. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something that gets your mind and body engaged at a higher level than wallowing in self pity.

10. Forgive

If someone else is at fault for the bad situation you find yourself in, the natural response is to harbor anger or resentment towards that person.

But what if instead, you forgave that person. You accepted what happened, but you no longer held it against them. You would feel better, because now instead of focusing on the negative feelings you have toward that person, you can focus on moving forward.

You can’t really get through a difficult time when your every thought is about how upset you are with the person who got you into that mess. It just makes things more difficult.

Or maybe the difficult time you’re going through is a direct result of something that you did. I’ve been there before, and I know I continually beat myself up about it. I couldn’t forgive myself. I almost felt obligated to be hard on myself.

The problem with that is, it only makes things worse. You get caught in this revolving door of self hatred and feeling worse, and there’s a swirl of anger and frustration and self doubt. It’s ultimately a recipe for disaster.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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