Everyone—every single human being—will face a problem at one point in their lives. But why do some people grow stronger and remain optimistic in a crisis, while others crumble under the pressure and the pain? Here are some secrets that may help you weather your storm, and emerge triumphant.
The truth will set you free
We can spend a great deal of energy denying a problem or our feelings about it. ‘I’m fine! I’m happy! I just have to think positive! I have to be strong!’ We can also try to bury our emotions under ‘distractions’ like work, shopping, eating.
But releasing emotions and acknowledging that you have a problem can be liberating. Recognize that you are facing a tough situation. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel.
Catastrophizing is a psychology term where you blow a problem out of proportion. ‘I will never be happy’ or ‘it will always be this way’ or ‘I hate my life.’ Localize the problem and see it for what it is. ‘I don’t like my boss’ or even better ‘I don’t like the way my boss talks to me’ is far more manageable than ‘I am a total failure at my career.’ One way to do this is to challenge a negative thought and ask yourself why you may be wrong. Think like a lawyer or a scientist, applying logic to a feeling that is reeling out of control. ‘Am I really a failure in my career? What events or circumstances point to the complete opposite?’
Compartmentalize your emotions
Aside from pinpointing the specific problem, you need to compartmentalize your reactions or feelings. Give yourself a time limit for wallowing in self pity: ‘I will feel bad for 20 minutes, and then I will stop thinking about this and do something else.’ You can use these 20 minutes to write in your diary or vent with a trusted friend, but at the end of that quietly tell yourself to move on, knowing that you can wallow again tomorrow if you need to.
This lets you make room for other emotions, like joy and appreciation for other things. Yes, you feel bad about your boss, but by pushing the frustration aside, you can notice the positive things in your job. maybe you have great co-workers, or you enjoy the chance to work with different kinds of people.
Accept what you can’t change
This will give you a sense of peace. You are not in control of everything, but the good news is that the situation will change on its own—because life is about change, and ‘this too shall pass.’ Meanwhile, write in your journal and be kind to yourself. Ask, ‘What will help me right now?’ or ‘What do I need to remember at this time?’ or ‘When all this is over, what will make me proud of myself?’ See the problem as an opportunity to know more about yourself, to find reserves of strength and faith that can only emerge when these are tested, and to break free from old patterns and surprise ourselves with a character we did not know we had.