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14 Harsh Life Truths You Need To Know To Be Stronger

14 Harsh Life Truths You Need To Know To Be Stronger

Life is no picnic. All too often, we have to overcome obstacles in order to survive. Study these 14 harsh truths of life to help you get stronger and be more self-confident.

“We spend much of our lives going about completely blind to reality, and yet we still have the gall to act victimized when it invariably catches up to us.” – Nenia Campbell

1. You cannot always rely on friends.

You will need certain life skills when nobody else is around. In this way you can rely on yourself to get out of trouble. It is a sad fact of life that we cannot count on other people most of the time. Make sure you have the following skills:

  • You can cook
  • You can drive
  • You know about the power switches in your home
  • You have a spare set of keys in a secret place for when you get locked out
  • You can manage your time
  • You learn something new about information technology every day to become computerate.

2. Make time for your passion.

Whatever you love doing, make sure you do it at a set time. This is important because you find that friends, family, your boss, and your pet will be constantly yapping at your heels trying to steal your time. You have to build in the following defense mechanisms to stop people making unreasonable demands at the wrong moment:

  • Switch off your phone
  • Turn off the computer
  • Go out and do it or lock yourself in
  • Leave Post-its to remind these intruders. (Yes, I know your pet can’t read but the others can!)

3. You accept challenges.

In order to grow in being sociable, stronger both physically and mentally, you have to accept challenges on a regular basis. You are pushing yourself to get better and stronger.

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4. You like being alone but you are not a loner.

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

It is impossible to exist without social contact. You can be as strong and self-sufficient as you like, but at the end of the day you need to interact in a real, personal and meaningful way, which is neither Facebook nor Twitter. You need to be in contact with real people for this.

At the same time, you can enjoy quiet time alone and you are comfortable with that. The health benefits range from increased creativity, less depression and improved memory.

5. Lower your expectations.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee

Don’t think that people will always be there when you fall or fail. The phone will go silent. Many friends will suddenly be very busy with their own problems. When I was recovering from a fall, not one person in my condo offered to help me with carrying the shopping!

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6. Prepare for bad times.

Stuff happens and it can get nasty! You will have to learn to be stronger and not give up. But the good news is that adversity and suffering will make you appreciate life afterwards. Those who endured hardships, like being homeless, divorced or ill, found that they been able to develop better coping strategies and were more socially active.

“Hope for the best and cope with the rest.” – Anon

7. You cannot be popular with everybody.

It’s just chemistry. There are people who will rub you up the wrong way, will be bitchy, and will be downright unhelpful in the workplace. You can adopt a few avoidance strategies to reduce the fallout. Get over it and enjoy the company of the real friends you have.

8. You learn from failure.

Everybody screws up. You know that perfection is impossible. Every time you have a disaster, do not beat yourself up. Just ask yourself how you could have avoided the trap or planned it better. In this way you can learn a few life lessons from failure.

9. Nobody else will praise you.

Time to give yourself a pat on the back for all your achievements. Don’t be afraid to list them in your head when you get discouraged. Give yourself a score for each finished task. This keeps you strong when facing life’s harsh realities.

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10. Toxic company is bad for you.

You know the people I mean. These are the whiners, the pessimists, the miserable ones, the cheap ones, the nasty types, and the prejudiced. They make a lousy team. Try to gravitate towards the optimistic and passionate people who will help you see the brighter side of life.

11. Money is tight.

Nobody wants to be stalked by debt or creditors. You have to work out how best to stay within your budget. Think of ways to save, like having packed lunches. Never go shopping without a list. Avoid impulsive buys. Use cash as much as you can. Leave the credit cards at home as they tend to lull you into a fantasy world.

12. Invest in kindness.

Doing acts of kindness every day to people at work or those in difficulty will pay handsome dividends. People will return the kindness. Investing in kindness is like having savings in the bank. They will always earn a little interest. What goes around comes around. There is also an added bonus in that it makes you feel good for a while.

13. Be accountable for your behavior.

If you behave badly, rudely or take unnecessary risks, then you have to be totally accountable for what you have done. You have to take the responsibility for your behavior. Another harsh lesson from the life arena! Taking the consequences, not blaming others and apologizing for harm done have to be on your to do list.

14. Look forward.

There is no escape. Life is wonderful but it is really hard work. Now is the time to start afresh.

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“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” – Helen Keller

“Yesterday ended last night.” – John Maxwell

How have you coped with life’s harsh truths? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Hard Life/ farm9 via farm9.static.flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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