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Last Updated on February 16, 2021

7 Things to Remember When Going Through Tough Times in Life

7 Things to Remember When Going Through Tough Times in Life

Sometimes, you will go through really tough times. It’s those times when everything you do just kind of flops, and it feels like your life is going downhill, which makes you feel very sad.

In these challenging situations, maintaining a good mindset is probably the most important thing you can do. It will allow you to stay upbeat, avoid pointless sorrow, persist through the hardship, find smart solutions and eventually turn the situation around.

I believe that there are 7 key ideas to keep in mind when the going gets tough, in order to stay positive and be resilient.

People frequently forget these ideas. Their thinking becomes overly pessimistic and gloomy. But if you bear these ideas in mind, they will do wonders for your emotional state and your capacity to overcome the challenge you’re facing.

1. Even Bad Times End

Everything ends. Whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t last forever. When a situation is troubling for you, it may seem as if it will never end. But that’s just a subjective and distorted perception. Our minds tend to expand negative events as they happen and so it appears like they’ve been going on for a lot more than they really did, and as if they will continue to go on for a long time.

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Nevertheless, even the worst kinds of situations end at some point. Sometimes you need to do something to make them end or hurry that moment. Other times, they will simply wither and die on their own, and all you can do is give yourself an instant motivation boost, have patience and wait. Not sure how? Get the Instant Motivation Boost Worksheet for free and learn how. Either way, things will change.

2. You’ve Overcome Challenges Before

Another way to address the feeling that a bad situation will never end is by thinking about similar situations that you went through in the past and you’ve successfully overcome. You can find a precedent nearly every time if you think hard enough.

When you do this, it acts as a reminder of your ability to handle challenges and get passed them. It boosts your sense of self-confidence and it eliminates the sense of helplessness. This attitude shift is most likely to motivate you to take action and get you to successfully rise above the situation.

3. You Have Lots of Strengths as a Person

When the going gets tough, it’s common for us to stop seeing our strengths and only be aware of our flaws. Thus, we see ourselves as losers, incapable to rise above difficult situations. But this is never true. Just like any other person out there, you have a combination of strengths and weaknesses.

The key is to remind yourself that you have lots of strengths. Perhaps start thinking about some of them in particular, and do a quick mental check of some of your strengths. By doing this, your perception of yourself will shift and become more balanced. Again, this will empower you and give you confidence that you’ll handle the situation you’re in effectively.

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To play on your strengths even better, find out what your motivation style is. When you understand your motivation style, you know how to stay motivated with the ways that fit you best. Take this free assessment What’s Your Motivation Style? and find out your motivation style now!

4. It Happens to Everybody

Frequently when facing hardship, our thinking will trick us into believing that this happens only to us. Other people don’t go through the kind of difficulties we go through. It almost seems like the universe is plotting against us and wants to hurt us.

However, with a bit of lucid reflecting, you’ll quickly realize this is not true. What’s true is that you’re hyper-aware of your troubles because they’re, you know, yours. But you’re not nearly as aware of other people’s trouble, which makes it seem like they have it much better than you. This is highly unlikely though. So remember that whatever happens to you, in the same form or a related one, happens to almost everybody.

5. It’s a Learning Experience

It is often said in the personal development world that there is no failure, only feedback. When going through tough times in life though, we tend to forget this. We see failure as an indicator that we’re not on the right path, but not as a learning experience which can put us on the right path.

Most learning in life comes from trial and error. And when things aren’t going the way you want them to go, the best thing you can do is to try to understand why this is happening, and learn from the experience. It is by learning and applying that learning that you’ll eventually turn things around.

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6. You Can Always Ask for Help

When facing hard times, it’s a good idea to remember that there are people in your life that you can rely on for help. Even if you’re not the most social person in the world and you don’t have a lot of friends or a big family, there are still people in your life that you can rely on.

These people form your social support system. Many times, just thinking about them and realizing that they are there for you in case you need them provides you a lot of emotional comfort and it gives you more courage to push forward.

You may not even need to actually ask them for help. Just knowing it’s available will embolden you and that will be sufficient.

If you don’t know how to ask for help, here’re some tips for you: How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most

7. There Are a Lot of Things to Be Grateful For

So some things aren’t going well in your life. That’s less than ideal, but if you think about it, there are still lots of things that are going well in your life and there is still a lot to be grateful for.

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Maybe your romantic relationship is in trouble, but you have a great career. Maybe your career is in trouble, but you still have your health and your family. And there are so many small but significant things to be grateful for: a walk in the park, a cup of coffee, a nice sunset, a casual conversation.

When going through tough times in life, think about this for a second and start noticing the things to be grateful for. It will completely change your perspective. You’ll realize things aren’t that bad after all, and that, troubles and all, life is worth appreciating.

Need a little reminder what to be thankful for? This article is for you: 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

The Bottom Line

Write these 7 ideas on a small piece of paper and carry it with you all the time, in a pocket or in your wallet. And whenever you’re confronted with a tough situation, take out the piece of paper and mindfully read to yourself at least once all 7 reminders on it.

You’ll notice that your mindset will begin to shift, you’ll become more positive and you’ll feel better. And once you’re in the right mindset and the right emotional state, it won’t take long before you’ll figure a way to overcome the tough situation you’re in.

It all starts with the mindset. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Dimitar Belchev via unsplash.com

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Eduard Ezeanu

Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

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Published on February 17, 2021

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How to Hack the Reward System in Your Brain And Stay Motivated

How do we achieve our biggest goals in life? Hard work, learning new skills, and staying focused are definitely important things, but one of the most important things we need is motivation. Losing motivation can stop us in our tracks. It can make us procrastinate, doubt our skills and abilities, and take us off the path to success. In the worst cases, a lack of motivation can destroy our goals and kill our dreams.

Where does motivation come from?

It starts with thoughts and chemicals in the reward systems in our brains. It continues to develop in our brains and is further shaped by our behaviors. This is why neuroscience, which is the study of the function of the brain, is so important.

When we understand the basics of neuroscience, we can hack the reward system in our brains so we can stay motivated to achieve our biggest goals.

The Neuroscience of Motivation

At the most basic level, humans want to avoid pain and experience pleasure. Our pleasure-seeking behavior is based on a mental reward system that’s controlled by our brains. This reward system is what keeps us motivated and helps us achieve our biggest goals and dreams.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that help shape our thoughts and behaviors. One of the main neurotransmitters in our reward system is the “pleasure” chemical dopamine. Dopamine is produced mainly in the mid-brain and then moves to other areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, which plays a big role in our emotional development. It also moves to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for thinking, feeling, planning, and taking action.[1]

When you do something pleasurable, your brain releases dopamine to make you feel good mentally and physically. This commonly happens when we eat our favorite foods, have sex, have a great conversation with someone, or do something else we really enjoy. Each time we feel pleasure from doing something, our brains remember what made us feel good. It actually assigns a reward value for everything we do.

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For example, eating a slice of our favorite pizza may have a higher reward value than drinking a smoothie. Being on that tropical vacation will have a higher reward value than watching that water fountain downtown.

Our brains even release dopamine before we engage in those things that make us happy. It’s the expectation of the reward rather than the reward itself that has the strongest influence on our emotional reactions and memories of what’s pleasurable.[2] Just planning that tropical vacation by checking out different locations on a travel site or looking at things we want to buy on Amazon stimulates our reward system by releasing dopamine.

Thinking about starting a project at work that we’re really passionate about also activates our reward system. This act of feeling the pleasure generated by our mental reward systems is what creates reward-seeking behavior and is a big part of motivation.

Vanderbilt University researchers discovered that “go-getters” who are more willing to work hard have greater dopamine activity in the striatum and prefrontal cortex, two areas of the brain that influence motivation and reward.[3]

Hacking Our Brain’s Reward System

Here are four ways to hack the reward system in your brain to stay motivated.

1. Keep Growing

When you do the same things over and over, that dopamine rush tends to get smaller and smaller. A great way to stay motivated is to keep growing by doing bigger and bigger things.

Take on bigger, more challenging projects at work. Once you’ve reached a running or fitness milestone, start working toward a bigger one. If you’re fluent in a foreign language, learn how to have more complex, philosophical conversations. If you have your own business, find ways to acquire more clients so you can generate more profit. Keep learning new skills that will push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

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Taking on greater challenges helps our brain’s reward system continue to assign high reward values to things we do. Start by accomplishing small goals. As you accumulate more and more small wins, work your way up to more challenging goals.

2. Use Visualization

“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.”—Bo Bennett

A great way to stay motivated is to visualize accomplishing a goal—even though you haven’t completed it yet. Visualization actually causes the brain to release dopamine. This makes us see our future rewards more clearly and go after them more fervently.

When our brains release dopamine and we feel that rush of euphoria, our hippocampus, which is part of our brain’s limbic system, records those pleasurable moments in our long-term memory. The more we visualize success, the more our brains associate this visualized success with pleasurable feelings.

When we can imagine a better future, we’re motivated to keep pushing forward and overcoming obstacles in our path. This is why people work hard to get raises and promotions, invest their money, put their kids thru college, and do other things that help them or others prosper later in life.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, and other famous and influential people have used visualization to achieve sky-high success.[4] It’s a great way to use the power of your imagination to keep you motivated to succeed.

3. Avoid Excessive Stress

High levels of stress are associated with chronic inflammation, which can cause our motivation to decrease. Researchers at Emory University have theorized that chronic inflammation from stress may cause a chemical reaction in the body that decreases dopamine supplies in the brain.[5]

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Low levels of stress can actually help us perform better by making us more alert. That adrenaline rush we get from stress can give us the energy and the edge to do our best. But when stress levels are high, stress can be damaging to our bodies, minds, and motivation.[6]

High-stress can lead to burnout. In the worse cases, it can cause people to quit projects or quit their jobs. It can cause mental problems such as anxiety or depression. It can lead to health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. Reduce stress by doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, running, or exercising regularly.

4. Reframe Challenges

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.—Wayne Dyer

Another great way to hack your brain’s reward system is to change how you look at challenges in your life. A common problem is that many people see difficult work as an obstacle or simply something they don’t like doing.

A good strategy is to look at difficult situations and obstacles as opportunities that will help you and those around you grow. This will help us look at difficult things in a positive light and actually look forward to doing them instead of dreading them.

For example, if three employees on your team aren’t getting along with each other and two of them are thinking about quitting, don’t look at this as a very stressful, terrible problem. Instead, look at the situation as an opportunity to use your interpersonal skills to gather the angry employees together, let them voice their concerns, and then resolve the problem.

It will help them improve personally and professionally. It will also help you and your company prosper as well. You can also apply this same way of thinking to your personal life. If your friends or family members aren’t getting along, use the disagreement as a growth opportunity that will benefit them and you.

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When we can see difficult things as great opportunities, we’ll start to look forward to them. When we look forward to doing things, it makes the reward system in our brains reward us with more dopamine, and it increases the chances that we’ll look at future problems as opportunities to grow.

Conclusion

Motivation is a challenging part of personal and professional development. This is why motivational videos and motivational speeches are so popular. A central part of staying motivated, even during the most challenging times, is to understand how our brains work. Science has given us a good understanding of our brain’s reward system and the chemicals and pathways that allow it to shape our behavior.

Hack that reward system in your brain by taking on bigger challenges, visualizing success, avoiding excessive stress, and looking at difficult situations as opportunities to help others and help yourself grow.

When we begin to master our brains, we’ll be better able to master our lives and achieve those big goals.

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Featured photo credit: Giorgio Trovato via unsplash.com

Reference

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