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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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    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 January 16, 2020

                  12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

                  12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now

                  The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.

                  However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.

                  “Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous

                  Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.

                  1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.

                  When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.

                  Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success.[1] As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’

                  2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).

                  That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”

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                  Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.

                  3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.

                  If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.

                  For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.

                  People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.

                  This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.

                  4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.

                  Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.

                  Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!

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                  Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.

                  Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,

                  “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

                  5. Crack a smile.

                  If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.[2]

                  Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?

                  6. Break a sweat—with exercise.

                  Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.[3]

                  And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.

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                  7. Groom yourself.

                  This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.

                  A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.

                  8. Dress nicely.

                  Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.

                  While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.

                  9. Do activities you enjoy.

                  Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.

                  You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.

                  10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.

                  Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.

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                  Why?

                  Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.

                  Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.

                  Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

                  11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.

                  Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?

                  Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.

                  12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!

                  Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.[4]

                  The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.

                  Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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