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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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      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

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                  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 May 21, 2019

                  How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                  How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

                  For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

                  If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

                  Example 1

                  You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

                  You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

                  In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

                  Example 2

                  You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

                  People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

                  You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

                  Example 3

                  You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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                  The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

                  Example 4

                  You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

                  Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

                  If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

                  Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

                  • Understand your own communication style
                  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
                  • Communicate with precision and care
                  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

                  1. Understand Your Communication Style

                  To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

                  In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

                  Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

                  2. Learn Others Communication Styles

                  Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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                  If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

                  “How do you prefer to receive information?”

                  This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

                  To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

                  3. Exercise Precision and Care

                  A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

                  On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

                  Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

                  I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

                  I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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                  In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

                  The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

                  Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

                  4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

                  Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

                  In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

                  “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

                  Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

                  Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

                  It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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                  It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

                  It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

                  Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

                  Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

                  The Bottom Line

                  When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

                  I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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                  Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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