How is your year going? I hope you have had some good news. I hope you’ve made progress at work, your relationships are happy and you feel that you are contributing something worthwhile to the world. I will admit that conditions are very challenging this year. The corona virus is just ghastly in China and has really knocked around the Australian tourism industry. The truth is that it’s hurt a lot of industries in Australia. The drought is also taking its toll and the fires have been horrible. I am sorry if you are having a tough year. I’m glad the fires are out and there is rain. I really hope corona virus is soon brought under control. I guess what we need to ask ourselves is how do you stay positive when times are hard. How do you stay optimistic in tough times?
A lot of people are born optimists and will say to themselves – this is just a phase, and will soon pass. Other people are born pessimists and instead tell themselves – this is the end of the world! Most of us are somewhere in the middle – the glass is both half-full and half-empty. In these challenging times, I’d like to give you a few tips on how to stay positive.
Give yourself time to grieve
You do not have to feel unrelenting happiness when things are difficult, however it is helpful to quickly move from feeling sorry for yourself to looking for practical solutions, ie getting on with the job.
I do think it’s okay to acknowledge your hurt, acknowledge that you have been injured but do not be overcome by self-pity. I say allocate some time to sit down and lick your wounds. If you are feeling really awful, allocate 30 minutes every second day to just sit down and feel how hard done by you are. You can even write out a list of negative things that have happened to you. Really sit there and feel hurt. But make sure that you have put a timer on, because once that 30 minutes is up, you have no more time for feeling sorry for yourself.
Whenever a thought about how hard this is comes into your head, you need to tell yourself to stop it, stop the self-pity because this is not the time. Remember you are alive and kicking, so get on with it. Find ways to improve the situation.
If you are not feeling any better after having these 30 minute slots of ‘feeling down’, then think about getting some professional help. Go to your GP and ask for a referral to a psychologist.
Look for ways to improve the situation
I know it is cliché, but you need to stop seeing the situation as ‘a problem’ and instead start seeing it as a challenge. Next, brainstorm and find ways to make things better. Instead of dwelling on the worst outcome, ask yourself what else might happen?
Remember that staying positive is a choice you can make, and it will improve your situation. Positivity is also a skill. The more you practise it, the better you’ll get at it.
Take a long-term approach
Stop and ask yourself, where will you be in a year from now, two years, ten years? Will you recover from this? Will you regroup? Will it even matter in 10 years from now? Could you even learn and grow stronger from this situation? Understand that feelings of stress won’t last and life goes on.
Do some volunteering
I wrote another blog earlier this year on facing challenges, and I said that even if you can’t solve the problem then aim to do good in other areas. I suggested volunteering. The truth is that I can’t develop a vaccine against corona virus, but I can volunteer to help others doing it hard, like the homeless or the disadvantaged. There are so many organisations out there that could do with some extra support. Have you thought about volunteering in a local op shop that raises money for a charity? Would you enjoy helping people try on vintage clothes? Then do it! Sign up.
Step outside yourself
Sometimes it is easier to find a solution if it’s not your problem. Pretend that someone else is facing this challenge – a good friend. How can you help them? You could even pretend to be someone else, perhaps the wisest, most-practical person you know. Often we are better at helping others than ourselves. Make the situation more objective and less personal to you. Also you will be more likely to be kind for yourself and not self-critical if it is not your problem!
Accept that you can’t fix everything
You know the prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things. When you feel stressed, make changes to things that are within your control. What is the point of worrying about what you can’t control or fix? You need to keep being happy. Sometimes it’s good to spend some time having fun and making a difference. It’s great fun to run a charity event with friends and raise money for a good cause. Look at how much fun the people manning the charity sausage sizzle stall at Bunnings have.
Regardless of how tough things are, remind yourself to be grateful for what you do have. Work to be mindful of positive things and be grateful for every little thing. Write down one event each day for seven days that makes you happy. Send one random thank you email or text to someone every day, either personal or professional.
Remember that tough times don’t last. You will survive and sometimes hardship can help you grow. As they say, there is no education like adversity.
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