Life is full of stress, struggle, mishaps, and setbacks. There are individual differences in how we cope with these setbacks. It is not easy to face these setbacks and keep the sanity. So what do we do to cope with them and still keep our sanity and composure?
Following are the five strategies to remember and apply when faced with adverse situations and stressors in life:
1. Be patient
2. Spread optimism
3. Have gratitude
4. Curb the tendency to be a perfectionist
5. Cultivate the attitude of forgiveness
We get annoyed and irritated when things do not go our way. This becomes a chronic habit and it pushes people away from you if you do not realize and demonstrate impatience with others. Try to practice one minute mindfulness when you feel that you are irritated to cool down. Patience is a form of forbearance which means we should not react mindlessly to criticisms and annoyances. The wise person does not get affected by loss, slander, blame, pain and suffering. It is important to know that the cause of these setbacks is impermanent. Forbearance and patience are vital to all relationships which help to smooth over the differences. Patience does not mean that you allow others to walk all over you but good communication and assertiveness will facilitate the definition of boundaries and diminish the chance of you being manipulated. It is wise to not take things personally and use that experience to help you cope with bigger let downs. It is a good idea to practice one minute visualization and see yourself in a difficult situation, holding silence, not complaining, and reacting negatively. With practice you will become adept in handling such situations effectively. Continue to notice where in your body you feel irritation—the gut,the head, the chest. With each exhalation, imagine the tension leaving your hands and feet. You don’t need to hold on to the tension for a minute longer.
2. Spread Optimism.
When setbacks and let downs happen, we feel disappointed and sad. Our automatic self talk becomes negative and there is a spiral of negativity that we get caught in. However, the more we indulge in negative self talk, the worse we feel and become pessimistic. Optimism brings a ray of hope and let you believe that things are not so bad after all. Notice the errors in your thoughts and you will notice that in low mood, you will be saying things like, “I always fail”, “It will never get fixed”, My problems will never go away” It is important to change your self talk by countering your irrational thoughts and come up with positive self talk. Writer has written a blog post on Reducing Anxiety and Depression by countering automatic Self Talk.Readers are referred to this blog post for further details on this topic.
When you begin to change your self talk, you will notice a ray of optimism spreading. It is a raft that remedies depression and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness every time you change your self talk. When things go wrong, it is a natural tendency of human being to self blame, and feel despair. Pretty soon, we begin to generalize this negativity in all areas of our lives. We begin to views negative events as permanent and take things personally. This makes us pessimistic. However, optimistic thinking presumes that things will change, events are not permanent and brings a ray of hope in the individual.
Thinking styles take time to change. Begin to notice what is your tendency when dealing with challenging and difficult situations in life. Start using affirmations and optimistic statements, this way you will lend hope to others and others will get tuned in to the same optimistic frequency.
Now make a list of things that are beyond your control, such as tough boss, economy and things that are in your control such as your creativity, cooperation, flexibility, diligence and skills. These things will increase the optimism in you and decrease the pessimistic outlook.
When we face the challenges of life, we begin to feel sad and depressed and fail to acknowledge the good things in our lives. However, this practice leads us to feel helpless and hopeless. We need to appreciate what we have and count our blessings. Adopt a grateful attitude. This is your choice and is in your control.
Make a list of everything you can be thankful for, a car, house, running water, electricity, food, and family. Carry this list with you to remind yourself on a daily basis. When you are grateful, you feel good and it automatically reduces the self blame, feelings of despair and despondency. It lifts your mood and you feel more energetic to undertake the ventures of your life. Gratefulness improves the bonds of relationships and make you more appreciative of life, in general. It improves the quality of your life immensely.
4.Curb the tendency to be a Perfectionist.
Perfectionism imposes excessive demands on the person and also set one for disappointments and let downs. When the person sets very high standards and is not realistic in expectation, it makes the person vulnerable and leads to chronic stress, as well. It is good to set your goals and aspire for highest level of satisfaction but watch out for tendency to be a perfectionist. Perfectionism offers the promise of control and lead us to believe that the bitter outcomes like failure, rejection, disapproval can be avoided. However, the truth is sometimes these negative outcomes cannot be avoided, no matter how perfect we try to be. When we rigidly impose high standards at all costs, it can actually make it harder to achieve our goals and can become dysfunctional.
We are much better off when our desires to pursue excellence are adaptive and we are flexible as opposed to being rigid in our expectations. Let go of your grip on perfectionism, do not be your own critic and do not worry excessively about how others are judging you. Try to be happy with what you accomplish and give yourself credit for your accomplishments and success. Writer has written a blog post on perfectionism on this web site. Please refer to that article for more details on how to curb perfectionism.
Forgiveness is a way to move on. When we cultivate this value, we feel better and are better able to lead a blissful life. Life is full of disappointments and setbacks caused by situations beyond our control sometimes. We are surrounded by people who have hurt us, betrayed us, and offended us. If we allow ourselves to dwell on past regrets, hurt, and setbacks, we cannot live happily and move on with our lives. When we recite our story over and over, we feel stuck in the past and become unable to appreciate the good things of life. However, it is in our control to free ourselves from the cage of anger and pain so that we can enjoy the sunshine again. Forgiveness does not mean that we forget a violation or injustice and allow it to keep happening in our lives. Rather focus on your strengths and find peace within. Learn to forgive yourself, let go of guilt and pain.
Do this one minute mindfulness exercise and try to forgive others who have harmed you. Also, forgive yourself for harming yourself either intentionally or unintentionally. As human beings, we generally rejoice happiness when we have good relationships with others versus conflictual type. In this context, the practice of noticing your thoughts plays a very important role. As soon as you notice those irrational thoughts, hurtful feelings and anger pop up, reframe them with positive statements and let go of your hurt and grievances.
In summary, we will be able to find peace and tranquility in our lives by adopting the above five strategies. They will help us cope with our stressors effectively.
Source: One Minute Mindfulness by Donald Altman