“When it rains, it pours”… or so they say.
We’ve surely all heard this saying before. A perception that unpleasant situations often go from bad to worse is a popularly held belief. The crux of this is that our mere belief in something like this is often enough to bring corresponding events into our life that will support our position.
I’m sure you may have experienced this before— the domino effect. You get out of bed one day and stub your toe. Next, you iron your shirt for work, but accidentally scorch it. When you go to make breakfast for yourself you burn the toast.
It is not uncommon to focus our attention upon these frustrating occurrences and say, “Oh gosh, what else is going to go wrong today?” Before you know it, your entire day has gone to hell in a hand basket, further enforcing your belief that what can go wrong… will.
If you have read any of my “Pieces of Me” posts before, you may have already noticed that I once struggled to maintain a positive attitude. (If you haven’t checked this series out before, you are welcomed to do so here.) Truth be told, I was a staunch cynic for most of my life. When bad things would happen to me in the past, I would literally freak out. I saw life through the lenses of anxiety, chronic worry and debilitating fear. It was hard for me to cope with negativity in an effective way, so my ability to bounce back from adversity was severely impaired.
I won’t lie to you guys… it took a long time to reach where I am today. People who knew me back then wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that I’ve changed dramatically. I have adopted a nearly ironclad means of maintaining a positive outlook on life. But of course, I’m human. From time to time, things still go wrong in my life. However, I can honestly say that my life runs as smooth as a baby’s bottom most days. When things do go awry, they don’t do so for very long. I am no longer afraid of a “domino effect” of bad news showing up in my life experience because I have learned how to sidestep negativity as soon as it first crops up.
Due to my ongoing positive outlook on life, things have been going extremely well for me, which I couldn’t be happier about. I’m stepping out, trying new things, meeting new people and chasing down so many dreams that I’ve had for so long. So many areas of my life are starting to show serious signs of improvement and upward progress. It’s been a wild ride over the last few weeks, but I know there is more where that came from. I’m having a lot of fun in life right now, so I’m totally stoked to see how things continue to unfold.
That being said, I woke up today to some very worrying news. As life would have it, I wasn’t really expecting to be confronted with such bad news, much less first thing in the morning (I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet). It sucked because I’d felt amazing when I went to bed, but when I heard the news, I could instantly feel my spirits drop. In a flash, the old me was back, ready to throw her arms up to say, “It’s the end of the world! I knew things were too good to be true! I don’t know why I thought I could go any considerable amount of time without having everything turn to crap!”
OMG. Shut up… lol. 😀
Thankfully, I quickly came to my senses and shushed the fretful little voice inside of me. Although it would have been perfectly understandable for me to become fearful and overwhelmed, I made a conscious decision not to. Instead, I decided to employ the same tactics I’ve been using to invite pleasant experiences into my life to dispel the feelings of discontent that were threatening to grow out of control. Not only was I able to quickly recover my good mood, but I stopped the likelihood that my day would continue to be filled with discouraging circumstances.
Many of you may wish to learn how to turn the negative tide in your life before it picks up momentum and consumes everything. Well, today I am here to share five habits I practice in order to quickly bounce back from and avoid negative, potentially stressful situations.
It may be raining in your life, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get wet.
Remind Yourself That This Too Shall Pass
When you find yourself faced with an upsetting scenario, it is extremely important to keep things in their proper perspective. No matter how challenging the situation may be, take a deep breath and remind yourself that everything in this life is temporary.
As bad as things may seem in the current moment, there will be a time in the future when things will be better. How long it takes for that moment to arrive is dependent upon how soon you can commit to taking control of your own emotions. We can’t rely upon anyone else to make us feel better anymore than we can control everything that happens to us in life, so it is our own responsibility to ensure that we are the manager of our feelings and responses.
Most of the time, we have been through experiences that were far more difficult than the thing we are presently facing. If you made it through those hardships, you can overcome your current situation as well. When I run into undesirable life experiences, the first thing I do is take some time out to recall such moments. It usually gives me the confidence to forge ahead expecting yet another victory.
Take Your Time
A lot of the initial panic we experience when obstacles unexpectedly manifest is caused by the impulse to find a means of overcoming them right now. This is totally understandable. After all, most people don’t enjoy the feelings associated with drama or discord. When faced with something that makes us feel uncomfortable or unhappy, our primary desire usually involves resolving it as soon as possible.
Though we may want to rush to make ourselves feel better and remove the cause of our worry, it isn’t always necessary to find the perfect answer right away. Some problems we encounter will require a resolution that can’t be found immediately. In such cases, it helps to relax for a moment— perhaps with a super cute bear donut like this one! It is okay to take the time we need to properly think through our situation.
Going into panic mode will make it hard for us to evaluate all angles of our situation. It is never easy to choose a course of action that will serve us well when we are in the middle of an emotional meltdown. Searching for a solution while we are calm and clear minded will yield more positive results. So instead of jumping to fix the bothersome situation, it is often more beneficial to focus on doing whatever we can to achieve and maintain a positive outlook. Achieve a better state of mind first… then make a move.
Shift Focus Away From Anything You Don’t Want More Of
One thing I have learned over the years is that the likelihood of our fears actually manifesting in real life greatly increases the more we focus upon them. When we give attention and energy to things we don’t want, we’re actually further inviting them (and things similar to them) into our life experience. If we’d like to experience something different than what we are currently seeing, we should stop looking at how things are and concentrate on how we’d prefer them to be.
This definitely does not mean that you should completely ignore your responsibilities or fail to resolve pressing issues. Simply refusing to think about our problems hardly causes them to go away. Besides, there will come a point in time when we are eventually forced to deal with the very thing we wished to avoid. The key is being able to face a situation without becoming emotionally invested in it.
Whenever I come across a negative circumstance, I immediately turn my attention to my inner dialogue. Instead of allowing my mind to incessantly chatter away, spouting negative things about the situation at hand, I deliberately repeat positive affirmations that align with the experience I’d prefer to be in. For instance, I may say something like the following:
“I am more than capable of finding a pleasing solution to this issue.”
“I am bigger than this situation.”
“It feels good to find solutions that meet my needs and make my life easier.”
“Good ideas come to me right when I need them most.”
As you can see, I am still acknowledging that there is something I need to handle. However, I am making my thoughts and speech less about the problem itself and more about my ability to solve it. Usually, this is enough to help improve my mood and keep negative feelings/thoughts at bay. However, this was not exactly enough today, which is why I moved on to step four.
Aggressively Reach For A Better Feeling
The news I received this morning was rather upsetting to me. I actually had a difficult time shaking off the initial sting of worry. Even though I immediately began to disengage from feeling too negatively about the situation, I could still feel the knot in my stomach tightening. This being said, it isn’t always enough to shift our active attention away from the situation. Often, our subconscious mind clings to negativity, leaving us noticeably tense and anxious.
In cases such as these, it is important to be more deliberate about improving our mood. After all, it is not easy to suddenly jump from feeling sad, scared or angry to feeling joyful or excited. Merely telling yourself that you are happy when you know you aren’t isn’t very effective at all; your body language and thoughts will betray you. Instead of trying to take a giant emotional leap, it is far better to take baby steps up the emotional ladder in the direction of actual contentment.
One of the very best ways I have found to improve my mood in a short amount of time is to go on what I call a “gratitude crusade”. This may sound really ridiculous, but it works for me without fail and it’s super easy to do.
When I find my mood plummeting, I start looking for things to be thankful for. I may kick things off by looking around my immediate surroundings to identify things I enjoy. It might be a beautiful piece of art hanging on the wall or a sweet little bird chirping in a tree. Without stopping, I will make a mental list of everything I can possibly think of that brings me joy. I then say “thank you” for all of the things I came up with. I continue to do this until I am overflowing with warm, fuzzy feelings (typically 5-10 minutes).
It is fair for me to say that this isn’t always the simplest activity to do in the midst of feeling poorly. This is especially true if you aren’t used to doing it. When I first started, I would mumble to myself about “nothing” making me happy. Of course, this wasn’t true; I simply wanted to be difficult. Though this may require some patience and practice, it will come to you more easily the more you do it. In time, you may find that this becomes a swift and reliable way to lift your spirits any time it is required.
Give To Others What You Wish To Receive
When all else fails and you still feel as though you could use a little extra cheering up, this one step should cure all that ails you. To be honest, this is my favorite thing to do when I am feeling discouraged, worried, sad, etc.
The best part about about this step is that it actually works wonders even when you’re already happy. There is truly no end to the satisfaction and joy you can receive while implementing this practice, which is why I consider it to be one of the best ways to improve your entire life.
If you find yourself in a situation where you could use comfort or encouragement, go out and find someone who also needs those things, and give it to them.
If you desire love and understanding, shower someone else with love and understanding.
Is your money looking funny? Is your change looking strange? Find a worthy cause or an individual you know is in greater need than yourself, and donate money.
Do you wish someone would invest time, energy or money into something you are passionate about? Look for someone you could bless with those things.
Though it may not seem particularly intuitive to give away something you feel you are lacking, the universe works in mysterious ways. You will be absolutely shocked by the results.
We pretty much get what we expect, and we bring about what we think about. Just like thinking negatively has the tendency to cause bad things to happen to you, thinking positively encourages good things to happen to you. Therefore, it is important that we act in ways that contradict the negative experience we would like to change. The sheer act of offering up something you’d like more of serves as a message that you are not experiencing lack (even if you actually are).
When you devote your own time and energy to helping someone else it shifts the focus away from you and your problems. Who could be more sympathetic towards and beneficial to someone who feels discouraged than someone who knows how it feels to need motivation themselves?
Being of benefit to others is an amazing gift to be grateful for because no matter how bad things may seem, you still have the opportunity to improve someone else’s life and thereby make the world a better place. This step alone should be enough to put a smile back on your face. 🙂