We’ve all been there. For some unknown reason, life deals us a crappy hand and we are left feeling discouraged, bewildered, and utterly deflated. However, it’s what comes next that must be carefully managed. According to Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, many people decide to throw themselves a “pity party” to prolong the misery. Morin explains that this normal reaction occurs because people fall into the mental trap of believing the following:
o Their problems are much worse than anyone else’s;
o They don’t deserve what they have. It’s only been given to them because of luck;
o They have more problems that anyone else they know;
o Nobody can fully comprehend the extent of their problems;
o They opt out of social events to think about how miserable their life is;
o They openly discuss how things went wrong throughout their day
o They see things as not being fair;
o They have difficulty seeing the glass as being half full, and being grateful for what they have;
o They think others have better, easier lives; and
o They think there is a force out there that is out to get them.
Morin further explains that if people actively remain in this headspace, they inadvertently become consumed, paralyzed, and unable to change their life. In other words, they start a psychological downward spiral. When this happens, people who hold onto their bad fortune risk the following:
o Their worries may become a self-fulfilling prophecy;
o They risk shutting themselves off from other important and cathartic feelings such as anger, sadness, and grief;
o They risk missing out on the good in life; and
o They may be putting their other relationships at risk by inadvertently keeping others at bay with their negativity.
Rather, when something terrible happens (and it will), Morin offers pro-active strategies to help counter negative thoughts and habits. These strategies are wonderfully simple to adopt and have been proven to help shift us into a positive mindset and, as a result, live a much more fulfilling and meaningful life. Here’s what Morin recommends:
1. Volunteer for a worthy cause: When you give of your time to a worthy cause, you help shift the focus from you to others. This creates meaning, personal fulfillment, and, ultimately, greater happiness for you.
2. Perform a random act of kindness: This is akin to volunteering. When you set out to do an intentional “random” act of kindness, your positivity ratio increases and you feel good about yourself. This has been scientifically proven to be true. But if you doubt it, the next time you are in a car line-up at your local coffee shop, buy a coffee for the person after you and see how you feel. This small act of generosity will undoubtedly boost your mood and spirit!
3. Do something active: Walk, run, weight train… get the blood pumping and see your mood improve! Listen to some great music while you’re at it and see how quickly you will get out of your funk.
4. Practice gratitude: This is such an important point. Every day, there are several ways to practice gratitude. You can do so by keeping a journal and writing down 2 to 3 things you are grateful for – keep it simple too! Ex: I am grateful for the sound of the soothing rain this morning. Also, it’s a good practice to ask others what they are grateful for if you are at a loss. Sometimes, their lists can be quite inspiring and may help open your eyes! Lastly, if you are a parent, make a habit of asking your child what he or she is grateful for today. What was his or her favorite part of the day?
Are you in the habit of ruminating over difficult situations? Or, do you find a way of getting out of your funk? What strategies do you practice to help you move forward during challenging times? How do you reverse the downward spiral? I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your strategies in the comment box below!
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