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How to overcome hard times in your life

Life is full of its ups and downs. One day, you may feel like you have it all figured out. Then, in a moment’s notice, you’ve been thrown a curve ball. You’re not alone in these feelings. Everyone has to face their own set of challenges. Learning how to overcome challenges will help you stay centered and remain calm under pressure.

Everyone has their own preferences for how to face a challenge in life. However, there are a few good tips and tricks to follow when the going gets tough. Take your pick from the following list!

How to overcome hard times in your lifePhoto by Rémi Walle on Unsplash

10 Ways to Overcome Challenges in Life

1. Make A Plan

While you don’t know what is going to happen in the future, you can always plan ahead. Look at the patterns in your life and see what challenges you’ve struggled with. Assess the optimal outcomes and make a plan for how you can achieve them.

If you work somewhere and can anticipate the types of challenges you may face, then you can plan ahead. This is the same for students in school. If a challenge is time management, then you can learn and plan for calendar management, for example.

2. Know You’re Not Alone

Every person in this world has their low points. Some may handle or even hide it better than others. But the truth is, whatever you are going through, there are others who have been through it too. You’re not alone. Try to reach out to your community and network. Speak your feelings and express your concerns in all settings of your life.

3. Ask For Help

You’re not alone, so you can find help. There’s no need to feel ashamed for asking for help. Whether you choose to rely on a loved one, a stranger, a mentor, or a friend, there are people who want to help you succeed.

4. Feel Your Feelings

By masking your feelings, they are not going to go away. Rather, feelings become trapped energy and can even have negative health consequences when they are ignored. Take some time to feel what you feel. This could come in the form of meditation. Or, if you’d rather write down what you feel, writing can be a therapeutic and cathartic experience.

When you feel and share your feelings, you may also be able to see your situation in a new light. This exercise could lead you to coming up with novel solutions and overcoming any challenge at hand.

5. Accept Support

Asking for help is only one side of the coin. On the other side of the coin, you have to be open and willing to accept support. People who come to your aid truly do care about you. Be open to receiving help when you need it.

6. Help Others

The old adage goes, “What you give is what you get.” If you’ve been through a situation or have advice for someone you know who is going through a tough time, be sure to help out! Helping others not only benefits them, but it can also help you feel happier yourself.

7. Think Big

It can be easy to let yourself think small because of the fear of failure, or even the fear of making a decision. But, to accomplish great things in life, you have to be open to taking risks. With whatever challenges may arise, always think and dream big. That way, you will achieve more than what you could have ever imagined. Try not to let your thoughts get in your own way.

How to overcome hard times in your life

8. Positive Mindset

What you think becomes your reality. Train your mind to think positively. This will take both time and practice. It begins with mental awareness. You can practice awareness through mindfulness techniques and meditation. When you get good at acknowledging your thoughts and letting them pass, you can stop negative thoughts in their tracks.

9. Don’t Give Up

When a challenge arises, be it a big test in school or an upcoming running race, don’t give up! Persistence is a huge key to overcome challenges. Giving up means that you will neither overcome the challenge nor learn from it. Power through challenges by asking for support, feeling your feelings, and making a plan to work through it.

10. Work Smart, Not Hard

Generally, there is more than one way to get something done. However, there’s always just one optimal way, or best way of doing it. To work smarter rather than harder, start by working backwards. Outline and define your goal. Then, plan the process for how to get there. Perform research to see how others who have come before you have done it. Take count of your own skills and ideas for how you may be able to do it better. Then, stick to your path and get to work!

How to overcome hard times in your lifePhoto by madison lavern on Unsplash

A 4-Step Method for Overcoming Challenges

Want to try a technique for overcoming challenges that Buddha himself once taught? This four-step method could help you a lot!

  1. Accept and Let Go: Accept where you are now and what you have. This is your life, at this time. While it’s temporary, accepting it will help you to let go of stress, anxiety, and fear. Meditation is one of the best ways to learn and practice acceptance.
  2. Observe and Decide: When you face a particular challenge, take a step away from your feelings to make a plan. While it’s important to still feel your feelings, when deciding how to act, you want to be objective as possible.
  3. Face Fears and Act: Taking action is one of the biggest steps in overcoming challenges. It’s likely that a big part of whatever you’re facing feels like a challenge because you have an underlying fear. Try to recognize and define what you fear in the situation. Then, you can act to mitigate that fear.
  4. Practice Gratitude: Ultimately, we tend to exist in our comfort zones. So, when something new happens or is presented, we may feel like it’s hard to deal with. By practicing gratitude, you can reframe your definition of a challenge. You will also be more happy overall in your present moment.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to deal with challenges takes time, persistence, and a positive attitude. No matter your life situation, the hard times will happen. But, with the right mindset and practice, you will be able to overcome them everytime and grow in the process!

Life isn’t always easy. That’s why we all need to learn how to overcome hard times in life.

When times are challenging it can be tough to see the bright side. Life is harder to enjoy and appreciate when everything feels like it’s going wrong. But you’ve weathered hard times before, and you’ll successfully do it again.

While nothing can make a hard situation easy, there are things you can do to make it easier.

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Discover how to overcome hard times in life and get back to normal

Focus on what you can control. Ignore what you can’t.

There are some things you just can’t control. Other people’s actions, the weather, the stock market, and your height are a few examples. Fortunately, there are things you can control. It makes sense to put your attention here. Time spent worrying about things beyond your control is a waste of time and energy. Your time is limited, so use it wisely. Remember that the most successful people are those that use their time most effectively.

Remember all the previous challenging times you’ve overcome.

This isn’t the first challenge you’ve faced. You’ve overcome lots of things. You just haven’t thought about them lately. Remind yourself of how capable and resilient you can be. Your current challenge will suddenly seem a little smaller.

Just breathe.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, bring yourself back to reality by focusing on your breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body. Spend a few minutes on this and you’ll feel better. Your breath is always with you and focusing on it will bring your mind back to the present.

Take care of yourself.

When times are hard, our natural tendency is to neglect ourselves. It’s easy to think that your grooming, eating, and sleeping habits are inconsequential, but that’s not true. No matter what is going wrong, make an effort to continue taking good care of yourself. You still need healthy food, sufficient sleep, and a little self-respect to be at your best. If you are trying to figure out how to overcome hard times in life, taking care of yourself during hard times MUST be at the top of the list.How to overcome hard times in your life

Be willing to say, “No”.

When times are tough, avoid taking on additional responsibilities. The best way to do this is to use the word “no” judiciously. Don’t worry about upsetting anyone. They’ll figure it out. Give your attention to yourself.

Laugh.

Laughter is magical. It feels good, and it gives hope. What makes you laugh? It might be a comic book, funny movie, or a humorous friend. Think about what makes you laugh and spend some time laughing each day.

Exercise.

Exercise is good at burning up excess emotional energy. It’s also healthy for you. When you’re feeling stressed, a good walking routine can do wonders for your physical and mental health.

Practice gratitude.

Hard times focus your attention on your negative situation. Your mood will lighten if you focus on something positive. What are you grateful for? Make a long list of everything that’s good in your life. Gratitude journaling is one of the best ways to conquer stress and overwhelm. You’ll feel better and more capable.

Delegate.

Hopefully, you’re not completely alone. Put the people in your life to work. Ask them for help. If you’re completely frazzled, you might be able to find someone to run errands or to watch your kids. You can delegate at work, too. Lean on others.

Remember that your life hasn’t always been easy. Things have always gotten better, even when you were sure they wouldn’t. Use these tips to make your life a little easier and make yourself more capable.

Use your time and focus to turn things around, rather than to make yourself even more miserable. Remember that you’re not alone. Brighter days are ahead if you learn how to overcome hard times in life.

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What defines those who thrive despite adversity?

“When life gets tough, the tough get going.” This timeless proverb may be true for some, but for others, hardship can be too much to overcome. When the going gets tough, their life simply falls apart.

What is it exactly that separates those who thrive regardless of adversity and those who don’t? Is it genetics, luck, or pure willpower?

Consider that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before he became the first democratically elected president in South Africa. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated eight times in elections before becoming president. A boy born to a teenage alcoholic prostitute and an absentee father found himself in trouble throughout his childhood, eventually growing up to be Charles Manson.

These examples are extreme, but they demonstrate the different routes people may choose when facing major obstacles. Some people turn to alcohol and drugs, stealing, or physical violence. Nearly 16,000 people drank themselves to death in 2010. Every year, more than 3 million children will witness domestic violence in their home. Conversely, many people have gone through hell and back and are moral, happy, and successful. As a youth violence and family trauma psychologist, it’s my job to find the turning point between the right path and the wrong one.

In my own life, I dealt with hardship and failure. My family was poor. I had to cope with suicides, mental illness, and domestic violence; two of my family members died of alcoholism.

My grandmother was a teacher and I thought I would follow in her footsteps. After attempting to go to school for teaching, I realized that I was not cut out for it. I felt like I had failed. When I was young, I tried to be a writer and was not successful. My first marriage was a failure, as was my first business. I was challenged significantly when I enrolled in my Ph.D. program at the age of 42 and my classmates were all 20 years younger.

And the story would not be complete without telling you that someone attempted to rape me when I was a young woman. I only told a few people. I cried and cried. I wanted to scrub the skin right off my body. Yet today, I can face my fears and am a big fan of Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit.

Despite all these trials, life marched on and turned out positive. I earned my Ph.D. I am a successful non-fiction writer and the author of two books that have sold well. I own my own practice, Eastern Shore Psychological Services, which has grown considerably and won numerous awards. And I am happily remarried to a loving husband, although I once told myself that I’d never marry again.

Why was I able to overcome the negative parts of my life when others from similar backgrounds have ended up addicted to substances or in jail? The simple answer is that I had enough protective factors in my life to outweigh my risk factors. For instance:

  • The neighborhood I grew up in was safe.
  • I was always supported by people who loved me.
  • I did well in school and had opportunities to succeed.
  • I had pro-social role models.
  • I received treatment for depression and PTSD.
  • There were many happy events in my life.
  • I kept going, one foot after the other, no matter what.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that children who have more than five risk factors (learning problems, maltreatment, chaotic neighborhoods, etc.) and less than six protective factors (adult support, life skills, clear standards set by caregivers, etc.) have an 80 percent chance of committing future violent acts. This means that, while we all face varying levels of hardship, there must be a counterbalance of positives in our lives so that we may continue to grow and succeed.

Looking back at my family members who struggled, I realize that they did not have the level of support and education about depression and alcoholism that I was fortunate to have. At two points in my life, I had problems controlling my anger, just like my father. But I gained support through education and friends, and I learned to deal with it effectively. Without these support systems, statistical research says that I would most likely have failed.

It’s true that some of our ability to deal with hardships and failure has to do with biological traits and genetics. Some of it may have to do with luck. But mostly it has to do with the environment and people around us. Our parents, siblings, peers, educators, and community all play a vital role in shaping who we become.

Life is tough and we all have our own challenges to face. But we don’t have to face them alone. With a caring heart and encouraging hand, we can all play a role in supporting others through their greatest hardships.

For more information, please visit my website.

How to overcome hard times in your life

Overcoming difficult situations in life is challenging for most of us. However, how we respond to hard times can help us alter the course of our lives and turn difficulties into happiness.

Life is unpredictable to say the least. One moment everything is going fine, and then suddenly something happens and your entire life flips upside down. When you realize and accept that life is not fair, you can become a lot more resilient and find ways to get through difficult situations in life. Psychotherapist and author Amy Morin writes “No one ever promised that life would be fair. In fact, life is unfair often. Your ability to accept that life isn’t meant to be fair can go a long way when it comes to getting you through tough situations in life.

Learning healthy and strategic ways to deal with adversity can help us develop skills to cope effectively and recover better.

Ways to cope with difficult situations

Regardless of how hard and overbearing a situation is, there is always hope. There is always the possibility that you can get through it and stand tall. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if you are willing to put in the effort, you can overcome even the most difficult situations. Here are 5 steps that can help you get started in the right direction.

1. Focus on the solution, not the problem

Nothing in life is permanent. Just like good times in life, hard times are also temporary and are bound to pass. No problem or challenge, irrespective of how big it may be, will ever last forever. All the difficult emotions you are experiencing right now, all the struggles and failures, all the heartbreaks, frustrations, anxiety and depression, it will all pass, regardless of how intense they may be right now. You will get out of this dark abyss to feel the warm sunlight once again. However, you will need to stop holding on to your pain and start looking at how you can climb out of this dark pit you’re stuck in right now.

Instead of being problem-focused, develop a solution-focused mindset. Instead of being attached to your problems, invest your time and energy in looking for probable solutions and developing strategies to cope with it. Accept and acknowledge the problems and the pain you are experiencing right now and tell yourself that this will pass eventually.Sometimes awful things occur because they are a necessary part of life, but these events – like so many others before them – are transitory and always, inevitably, serve as springboards to the next revelation, the next renewal, or the next chapter. This, too, shall pass,” writes marriage & family therapist Dr. Howard C. Samuels Psy.D.

2. You are a survivor. You have survived this before.

You have been through countless difficult situations before in your life and have overcome them time and again. You have all the strength you need to survive and win this time as well. Yes, the game is different this time around and it may be your biggest challenge yet. “But you have a 100% success rate at overcoming difficult situations,” explains author Margie Warrell. The problem is, we often tend to underestimate our resiliency. You always have the strength you need to win over life. You simply need to discover it at times. And this is what struggles are all about. “In assessing your situation, you also need to assess your life and look at what you’ve already survived and know that whatever you are going through cannot hold a candle to your indomitable spirit,” adds Dr. Samuels.

September 15, 2020 by JanSmith

The saying goes – “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. It is often used to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude when we face difficult times in our lives. Lemons suggest a sourness or bitterness within the experience; making lemonade out of lemons suggests responding by turning these difficult times into something positive or desirable.

How to overcome hard times in your lifePhoto by Francesca Hotchin on Unsplash

This question was posed at a recent women’s wellness conference I attended. The women there had each conquered their own difficult times. I marvelled at the vulnerability and courage displayed as they spoke their stories. I also shared my take on this question during my presentation: Full Circles and Perfect Timing.

As each woman pondered this question, there was a shared wisdom around the unique strategies they used. Some had suffered abuse in relationships or marriage breakdown. Others experienced the grief of family loss, natural disasters, or the bravery to step out of their comfort zone – to head to university, to lead schools and businesses. Collectively we are experiencing and responding to the nuances of the current pandemic.

Yet there were common threads and familiarity in the stories told. It was easy to find empathy and shared touch points in each other’s journey. This blog gives an overview of the collective wisdom of their responses.

Observe the lemon : Often when a difficult situation arises in our lives we go into the response mode of fight/flight or freeze. If you can pause and step back slightly from the situation you might be able to observe it first before responding. What thoughts and words are running in your head? What emotions are stirring in your body? Who is involved and who is impacted beyond you by what is happening? What has led to this situation arising and can you see solutions or ways forward? As humans, we tend to resist change and find unexpected situations uncomfortable or fearful. Observing gives us space to sense some control.

Perhaps there is some life experience to draw on. Then you can ask what ways have I used to cope previously with a similar situation? There may be strengths or embodied resilience that you can draw on. You can also respond with self-compassion, identifying that the situation is difficult, you are doing all you can to cope and others have probably been in a similar position (identifying with universal suffering). This is a wonderful way to build empathy for others and to motivate you seeking support from those who have the resources or experience to share.

Decide what to do with the lemon : Is the situation calling you to leave a destructive relationship or seek a safe haven? Do you need to build attributes such as a sense of your self-worth and self-belief? It takes courage to step into action and make decisions when life is tough. To make yourself a priority and to honour your own healing. On the other hand, a difficult situation may be calling you to persevere and build resilience and ‘stick-ability’. Whichever way you go, take action to step beyond the current inertia you feel.

Surround yourself in the fruit bowl : – Seek out support and connection from others. Surround yourself with really good people. Those you can be vulnerable with who you can trust with your story. The five people you spend most time with in your life, these are your greatest influences. Choose wisely.

Use your intuition to seek out resources and modalities that are helpful. Be brave enough to swallow beliefs of shame or pride and seek the help of professionals, if needed. You may be surprised to find you are not alone and others resonate because they have had similar experiences of their own.

Acquire knowledge and learn strategies to move forward. These will not only serve your situation but build your acquired wisdom around dealing with adversity.

Share your lemon recipes : – there is nothing more rewarding than being able to pay it forward with knowledge and perspective gained from difficult life experiences. Something you have suffered and overcome – anxiety, depression, abuse, addiction; makes you an inspiration for others. Your personal growth and new understanding can give you life purpose in supporting others. Your story can be a source of inspiration. You can become the ‘teacher/guide yet continue as the ‘student’ to broaden your personal understanding and clarity.

Create the unexpected : – At times when we are in a difficult situation we cannot see our way out. People around us possibly rush in with advice and opinions. Be aware that they are seeing life through their own perspective and life experience, just as you are. They also don’t want to see you in pain.

If you are brave enough just to listen to your own inner voice and intuition, solutions will appear. Perhaps you expected to make lemon kisses or bliss balls with your lemons. Instead you receive a recipe for something quite different, something more exotic and new. Trust in the process.

Part of our humanity is living through and overcoming difficult times. The older we get, the more ability we have to use hindsight – to see the lessons learnt and the wisdom gained. There’s often a greater acceptance of life and those around us. If life gives you lemons, as it inevitably will, use self-compassion, courage, understanding, and connection to help you move forward.

Perhaps you have other thoughts to contribute. I would encourage you to comment below the post if you do.

How to overcome hard times in your life

One of the best qualities you can have in your relationship is resiliency. Every couple goes through their share of ups and downs. But truly resilient couples who come out the other side when going through hard times in a relationship can be stronger than before. So, what are these couples doing that everyone else isn’t?

“A couple is resilient when each hold the other at such high value,” relationship coach Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI-MP, tells Bustle. “They’re willing to do what it takes to keep the relationship alive.”

That means, they fight for what they want, even if that means sometimes fighting each other. They communicate in healthy ways and are open about their feelings with one another. Most importantly, they are both crystal-clear about what it is they want out of the relationship.

“If they are ever in a misalignment, they know how to set the agreement to which both feel satisfied in the relationship,” Ponaman says.

Being able to overcome the challenges in your relationship requires a bit of preparation. Couples who are resilient know that it’s important to consistently work at their relationship each and every day. According to experts, it’s the things they do on a daily basis when everything is all good that really sets them apart.

So if you and your partner can do these things, your relationship may survive tough times.

Work On Your Friendship

If you want your relationship to survive hardship, work on having a solid foundation of friendship with your significant other. “All relationships have ups and downs and there will be times when you don’t feel in love with your partner,” therapist Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, tells Bustle. “Having a friendship with them ensures that there is a cushion for hard times when you both don’t feel like being romantic with each other.” It’s not that hard to do. Like any friendship, it requires spending time together, talking, and being there for each other when it’s needed.

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How to overcome hard times in your life

What do you do when you feel like a huge wave is about to overtake you?
Waves are also known as swell, surge, uprising.

Do you ever feel like your life is a wave that is over-powering you?

You can experience this in your financial life (oh how I know that feeling–right now), your personal life (with relationships, people, family), your health/diet, work and other areas of life. If you have hard financial times in your life, you may want to get yourself a personal loan to improve your financial situation. It’s never pleasant feeling an upheaval in area aspect of your life. For student loan services, loanforgiveness.org
is a helpful resource for resolving all student debts for good. Through their variety of student loan programs, the student loans could be decreased, forgiven or streamlined into a single monthly payment.

Difficult trying times can (and do) befall anyone and everyone at what usually seems like the most inopportune time (though is there really an opportune time for hard times?).

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7 NTL

This scripture is so easy, yet so danged difficult to actually do…all the time!
If I’ve cast all my cares to Him, then that means I don’t have them anymore…
so, if that’s the case why then am I still overcome by feelings of overwhelm? anxiety? doubt?
Yep, I’ll be brutally honest (would I be any other way?) I feel like the walls are closing in and the sky’s falling on more occasions lately than I’d like to admit.
I’m not going to be all self-righteous “Christiany” and pretend that I don’t get worried, that I’m not beginning to get freaked out about finances, business, etc…
So, in my writing this not only is it my hope to help you be able to deal with and overcome hard times but I’m speaking to myself as well!

“What matters most is how you walk through the fire.”

Here are some quick tips to help you overcome difficult times:
–Don’t play the victim. It’s a waste of time and accomplishes nothing. Focus on what you need to do to change the situation, and do it.

–Learn from the wave. Try to get whatever lesson there is about whatever you’re going through. Sadly (speaking from experience) sometimes we have to go through the same thing multiple times before we grasp the lesson.

–Know that things will improve and end up alright.

–Be grateful for what you do have.

–Don’t think or dwell on the negative…focus on the positive in all aspects (every day may not be good, but there IS good in every day!)

–Have a support system in place. Connect with friends, family that can help you (listen to you, guide you, pray for you).

–Try some stress relief exercises to help you maintain calmness and healthy mind & body.

–Spend some quiet time in prayer, meditation…just get away and breathe…knowing that tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities to advance and get through the difficult times.

What do YOU do when you feel like life is swelling up around you?

Tough times never last but tough people do

How to overcome hard times in your life

Hard times are part of life. Even the happiest and most successful people go through hard times. When they describe their successes, they typically share the hard times and how they got over them. When you are in the middle of a difficult period, it feels all consuming, like end of the world. It feels… hard!

Unfortunately, negative thinking can make the hard times feel even harder. Think of it as driving a car. Good times are like driving in a flow, when all the traffic lights are green and it feels like you are cruising. Hard times feel like there is a stop sign or red light at every intersection, and driving seems to take forever, because the cars in front of you cannot move forward, while you are running late for an important meeting.

When your thinking is negative, it feels like you are driving… backwards.

Naturally, difficulties and hard times throw us into the primitive brain. In this mode, we are under a lot of pressure and since we use the primitive brain, we are not creative, cannot think complex thoughts, cannot solve problems, cannot improvise and cannot even have a healthy connection with others. Why? Because in the primitive brain we see snakes and lions and dangers and threats.

The best way to overcome this negativity is not to allow the chatter in our brain to convince us that we deserve the hardship and that the difficulties are a sign or a kind of punishment.

Feeling bad about feeling bad

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors

As a life coach, I help my clients distinguish between hard times and hard thinking. There are natural things that happen to us and make our life hard, but we need to know if our thinking is making it harder than it would be otherwise.

It is OK to feel bad because you have failed at something, but feeling bad about feeling bad only makes things worse and must be eliminated if we want our higher brain to kick in and start to find solutions.

Here is an example of the cycle of feeling bad about feeling bad. One of my parent coaching clients shared with me the frustration and bad feeling about her anger and frustration when her 6-year-old daughter threw a tantrum at school as they got out of the car in the morning. When I asked her about it, she did not even think there was an issue with her daughter putting pressure on her with her screams. She was convinced that she was not a good mother. She was upset about being upset when her daughter behaved like that, because “good mothers don’t get upset”.

How to overcome hard times in your life

Usually, when we feel that things are hard, we trigger thoughts that only increase the hardship. Some of them are “No one loves me”, “I can never do that”, “What would other say about me?”, “They will never trust me (again)”, “I will never get another chance”, “I am hopeless”, “I am such a loser”, “Why does it always happen to me?” and “What have I done wrong (to deserve this)?” Every such thought only takes us backwards. Since we have to stop at many red lights in our life, this kind of thinking just makes the wait seem a whole lot longer.

Mindfulness is the key

What we need to do to get over hard times is to minimize them. We cannot eliminate them but we can minimize them. Do you remember our traffic light? We cannot avoid red lights completely, but we can reduce the time we wait at red lights, and we can certainly reduce the impact of that time on our mood and our wellbeing.

First, you need to recognize the sentences you tell yourself when you are feeling that things are hard. Mindfulness is not to fight those thoughts, but to welcome them and write them down. In our mind, the thoughts are quick and temporary. If we write them down, we know what we need to do to get rid of.

This mindfulness activity is amazingly powerful. In order to “listen” to the chatter in our own mind, we think about the way we think. This is an NLP trick and it is very useful in changing thoughts. Usually, we are very aware of what we think but do not pay much attention to the way we do the thinking, what thought triggers other thoughts and how the whole mechanism of thinking works. If we want to change something in any mechanism, we must get to know its nuts and bolts. Writing helps us slow down and pay attention.

How to overcome hard times in your life

The thought pattern you discover with this mindfulness activity will show you your automatic thought pattern and what we need to do is get this “car” from “auto pilot” into a controlled ride.

Hard times mindfulness questions

Here is a list of questions you can ask yourself to stop yourself from reacting automatically during hard times. If you use them over 3-4 weeks, you will notice that what seemed hard before does not feel so hard anymore. Whenever you recognize you are have a hard time, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I want?
  2. Who loves me?
  3. What are my options?
  4. What can I do right now to change things?
  5. What am I grateful for?
  6. What is within my control?
  7. What will I think of this in five years? Will it matter in five years?
  8. Who can I spend time with that will make me feel better?
  9. Who do I know that got over a similar hard time and can inspire me or provide guidance?
  10. What have I achieved in my life so far?
  11. What is the worst thing that can happen?
  12. What have I learned so far from this?

If you take this list and answer it every time you think you are going through a difficult time, you will soon discover that hard times are not as hard anymore.

What defines those who thrive despite adversity?

“When life gets tough, the tough get going.” This timeless proverb may be true for some, but for others, hardship can be too much to overcome. When the going gets tough, their life simply falls apart.

What is it exactly that separates those who thrive regardless of adversity and those who don’t? Is it genetics, luck, or pure willpower?

Consider that Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison before he became the first democratically elected president in South Africa. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated eight times in elections before becoming president. A boy born to a teenage alcoholic prostitute and an absentee father found himself in trouble throughout his childhood, eventually growing up to be Charles Manson.

These examples are extreme, but they demonstrate the different routes people may choose when facing major obstacles. Some people turn to alcohol and drugs, stealing, or physical violence. Nearly 16,000 people drank themselves to death in 2010. Every year, more than 3 million children will witness domestic violence in their home. Conversely, many people have gone through hell and back and are moral, happy, and successful. As a youth violence and family trauma psychologist, it’s my job to find the turning point between the right path and the wrong one.

In my own life, I dealt with hardship and failure. My family was poor. I had to cope with suicides, mental illness, and domestic violence; two of my family members died of alcoholism.

My grandmother was a teacher and I thought I would follow in her footsteps. After attempting to go to school for teaching, I realized that I was not cut out for it. I felt like I had failed. When I was young, I tried to be a writer and was not successful. My first marriage was a failure, as was my first business. I was challenged significantly when I enrolled in my Ph.D. program at the age of 42 and my classmates were all 20 years younger.

And the story would not be complete without telling you that someone attempted to rape me when I was a young woman. I only told a few people. I cried and cried. I wanted to scrub the skin right off my body. Yet today, I can face my fears and am a big fan of Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit.

Despite all these trials, life marched on and turned out positive. I earned my Ph.D. I am a successful non-fiction writer and the author of two books that have sold well. I own my own practice, Eastern Shore Psychological Services, which has grown considerably and won numerous awards. And I am happily remarried to a loving husband, although I once told myself that I’d never marry again.

Why was I able to overcome the negative parts of my life when others from similar backgrounds have ended up addicted to substances or in jail? The simple answer is that I had enough protective factors in my life to outweigh my risk factors. For instance:

  • The neighborhood I grew up in was safe.
  • I was always supported by people who loved me.
  • I did well in school and had opportunities to succeed.
  • I had pro-social role models.
  • I received treatment for depression and PTSD.
  • There were many happy events in my life.
  • I kept going, one foot after the other, no matter what.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that children who have more than five risk factors (learning problems, maltreatment, chaotic neighborhoods, etc.) and less than six protective factors (adult support, life skills, clear standards set by caregivers, etc.) have an 80 percent chance of committing future violent acts. This means that, while we all face varying levels of hardship, there must be a counterbalance of positives in our lives so that we may continue to grow and succeed.

Looking back at my family members who struggled, I realize that they did not have the level of support and education about depression and alcoholism that I was fortunate to have. At two points in my life, I had problems controlling my anger, just like my father. But I gained support through education and friends, and I learned to deal with it effectively. Without these support systems, statistical research says that I would most likely have failed.

It’s true that some of our ability to deal with hardships and failure has to do with biological traits and genetics. Some of it may have to do with luck. But mostly it has to do with the environment and people around us. Our parents, siblings, peers, educators, and community all play a vital role in shaping who we become.

Life is tough and we all have our own challenges to face. But we don’t have to face them alone. With a caring heart and encouraging hand, we can all play a role in supporting others through their greatest hardships.

For more information, please visit my website.