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When Times Are Rough, This Will Add Perspective

When Times Are Rough, This Will Add Perspective

It has often been said that it isn’t what happens to us that causes distress, rather it is our interpretation of the event that evokes emotional reactions – good or bad. Our thoughts have far more influence over the quality of our lives than many of us realize. I know this from talking to many clients who perceive life as happening to them, rather than them having control over their lives. There are many things in life that thwart our efforts and many events are beyond our control… so it makes sense to focus on what we can control – our thoughts. When times are rough, seeing the good in people, being optimistic and adopting an appreciative attitude towards what is good in your life is the first, and most crucial step to enjoying life more.

Now for a little perspective. When times are rough and all seems lost, it can help to remind yourself of a few facts:

1. When you’re stuck in traffic on the way to work

Think about those barefoot African children walking an average six miles per day just to get water. There’s no comfy car to sit in or an interesting news story to listen to on the radio. Life is reduced to basic survival.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/unitednationsdevelopmentprogramme/9262297987/in/photostream/

    2. If you dislike your job

    Give a thought to those working in shocking conditions in sweat shops around the world. In developing countries, an estimated 250 million children ages 5 to 14 are forced to work and every cent they earn goes towards feeding their families. Many don’t have a life outside of work.

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    https://www.flickr.com/photos/ereikaion/129764558/in/photolist-dbAvHf-bzNZGh-aJmH2M-4tNFnv-aJmGY2-291Zg-ct5tY-291YM-dbAtWt-7Jd4AR-69WAgV-dbAvD1-dbAu6F-dc227e-5FVgdd-dCYwH6-88yZe7-dbAvXG-dbAu2a-dbAvSy-5PWq5D-nfQtbt-22TSgz-dbAuax-bbh9wg-8cBdxe-2AWej-5RdC3p-bm6Vcw-5w2BSd-aWQqLe-aWQqWV-aWQr8g-4iA1Kz-594KJm-594KSL-bz1NWe-dbAu4k-9xvCsw-9xvCsA-5kfGWa-23NBAw-23J5kc-23NeJ3-5ct184-bz1NTe-bm6V4Y-5ct1eH-5cxhrC-5cxhdw/

      3. When you haven’t got much spare money at the end of the month

      Remind yourself of all those who don’t get a choice between spending money on a new pair of shoes, a cinema ticket, or using their credit card as back-up. More than 842 million people – or one in eight people in the world – do not have enough to eat. Sixty-six million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

      Somalia Suffers from Worst Drought in Century
        4. When you feel trapped in your marriage and feel you are going through a rough patch

        Be thankful that you are not one of the estimated 51 million girls younger than 18 that are child brides – forced into marriage with a stranger. Over the next decade, another 100 million girls will become child brides. Their lives are, in many cases, pre-determined. 

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          5. If you resent having to go to school or having to attend professional development seminars for work

          Think of the recent story about the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school. All they wanted was to get an education against the odds and to build a better future for themselves. This basic right is being denied.

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            6. If you or your partner’s lack of libido is causing problems in your relationship

            Imagine the life for those that get forced into the sex trade. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. alone each year. Love and desire are not part of the equation.

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              7. When you’re having an ‘ugly day’ or a ‘bad hair day’

              Spare a thought for those victims of acid attacks. Many victims survive the initial attack and spend the rest of their lives dealing with the psychological, physical and emotional aftermath. They also suffer from social isolation from which there is little escape. These, mostly female victims have no choice but to focus on their inner beauty and detach from their physical appearance. 

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                8. Even when life seems at an all time low

                There is still control over your experiences of the world around you, what you tell yourself and your inner mind. Viktor Frankl wrote a book about his experience as a concentration camp victim in Auschwitz. Despite the bleak surroundings, he understood that his captors could not take his spirit, his memories and his ability to choose his thoughts about the situation. (Viktor Frankl’s – Man’s Search for Meaning) 

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                  You become the person you think you are. If you think you’re someone who will never amount to anything… guess what? You’re right. What would your life look like if there were no rules and you couldn’t fail? The way that you interpret your life experience creates your identity and determines the quality of your life. Make your thinking work for you, not against you.

                  No one can ever take away your right to interpret life in a way that works for you. I say – do what works! Being a pessimist never works and nurturing an optimistic attitude will serve you well. Focus on what is good and working well in your life. Write a gratitude journal once a day listing things that make you happy – even the smallest experience such as the sun shining or birds singing.

                  No one escapes life’s challenges – we all have our ‘cross to bear.’ Priming yourself to think more positively trains your brain to use different neurological pathways, so the more you practice gratitude, the more natural this outlook will become.

                  “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

                  Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moriza/176374054/in/photostream/ via flickr.com

                  More by this author

                  Mandy Kloppers

                  Mandy is a Psychologist/CBT therapist who believes getting through life is easier with a robust sense of humour.

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                  Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                  How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

                  How to Reinvent Yourself and Change Your Life

                  There will always be times in your life when you may need to learn how to reinvent yourself. This could come when you experience a big change, such as leaving your job, moving on from a relationship, transferring to a new home, or losing a loved one. If you are going through a major shift in your life, you may have to find new ways of thinking or doing things, or risk failing to reach your full potential.

                  “When something bad happens, you have three choices. You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

                  Many people who dared to leave their old unhappy lives enabled themselves to pursue their passions and find a renewed zest for living. You can also achieve the same if you take a leap of faith and make things happen for yourself.

                  To help you always be at your best wherever you may be in your life, here are some practical tips on how to reinvent yourself.

                  The Reinvention Checklist

                  Before embarking on a journey of self-reinvention, you need to make sure that you have everything that you need to make the trip bump-proof. These things include:

                  Resilience

                  Problems and obstacles are guaranteed to happen. Some of them will be difficult and may knock you off course; the important thing, however, is that you learn from these difficulties, never lose focus, and always get back up. This requires building resilience to get through the tough times.

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                  Support

                  Humans are social beings. Although it is important that you learn to rely on yourself when facing any challenge, it is also important to have a support team that you can lean on to give you a boost when things get too tough and to correct you when you’re making mistakes.

                  The key is to find the right balance between independence and dependence. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share the difficulties you’re facing. When you open up, you’ll find the people who are really going to be there for you.

                  Self-Care

                  During the process of learning how to reinvent yourself, you will have to pull yourself away from your old comfort zones, habits, roles, and self-perceptions. This can be difficult and cause you to question your self-worth, so it’s important to engage in self-care to maintain a positive outlook and keep your mind and body healthy as you face the challenges that await you. Self-care can include:

                  • Participating in a hobby you enjoy
                  • Spending time with your support system
                  • Taking some time to walk in nature
                  • Practicing loving-kindness meditation

                  Find what works for you and what helps you feel like your true self as you seek a reinvented version of you.

                  How to Reinvent Yourself

                  Once you’re sure that you’re equipped with all the tools in the self-reinvention checklist, you can begin your journey of learning how to reinvent yourself.

                  1. Discover Your Strengths

                  This step provides valuable information on how you deal with certain situations. If you have this information, you will be able to manage difficulties more efficiently.

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                  To find out what your strengths are, you can ask your friends and colleagues for feedback, engage in self-reflection, or try these 10 Ways to Find Your Own Personal Strengths.

                  2. Plan

                  This step calls for a thorough assessment of your current emotional, psychological, and financial status so that you can develop plans that are realistic and practical.

                  It’s okay to have ambitious dreams, but your plans have to be realistic. Making use of SMART goals can help you plan your life better.

                  You can also consult your mentor or life coach for practical tips and advice.

                  Ultimately, you’ll want to create specific long-term and short-term goals that you can create milestones for. By doing this, you’ll lay out a specific roadmap to your reinvented self.

                  3. Try Things Out

                  Sometimes, we don’t know if solutions actually work until we try them out. This is why it is important to experiment whenever possible, especially if you’re dealing with a career change. You may need to simply experiment in order to find the things you like. This can be the same with hobbies. If you’re not sure what you would like doing, accept invitations from friends to join them in their favorite sport or take a class, like pottery or photography.

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                  By seeing what’s out there in any area of your life, you’ll have a better chance of finding the things you enjoy and the goals you want to create.

                  4. Manage Your Finances Well

                  Changes may require a bit of money. If you’re shifting to a new career, you may have to pay for training. If you’re going through a tough divorce or having a hard time dealing with the death of a loved one, you may have to pay for therapy. If you’re moving to a new home, you’ll definitely have to pay a whole lot of expenses.

                  All of these things are possible, but it will require a bit of money savviness as you learn how to reinvent yourself. If you have that cushion, you’ll feel more comfortable straying from your current path to try new things.

                  5. Muster Your Courage

                  Fears and self-doubt may arise when you encounter difficulties and setbacks. Sometimes, they may also come when you’re taking risks. You have to manage these negative emotions well and not allow them to discourage you. Tap into your courage and try doing at least one new thing each week to develop it.

                  Learn how to deal with your self-doubts to move forward in this article: How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck (And How to Overcome It)

                  6. Use Your Support Group

                  As stated above, you need to build a strong support group before you even start the process of reinventing yourself. Your group will keep you from taking wrong turns and encourage you when you get too weighed down by problems. Don’t be afraid to call them, or even ask them out for coffee if you need to vent about the current difficulties you’re facing.

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                  7. Remind Yourself Every Day of Your Commitment

                  Write your goals on different-sized cards and scatter them at home and at work in places where you can easily see them. This way, you will constantly be reminded of where you want to be. Remember, writing down your goals helps them stick[1].

                  8. Accept Failure, Learn, and Resume Your Journey

                  Failing is normal, especially when we’re trying out something new. When you fail, simply recognize it, learn from it, and move on. Failure, in the end, is the best way to learn what does and doesn’t work, and you simply won’t be able to learn how to reinvent yourself if you don’t accept the inevitable failures that await you.

                  Final Thoughts

                  If you truly want to learn how to reinvent yourself and live the life you desire, take the advice above and start taking action. It will take time, patience, and plenty of effort to make the change you want happen, but it will be all worth it.

                  More Tips on How to Reinvent Yourself

                  Featured photo credit: Ashley Rich via unsplash.com

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