Wow, has this been one crazy past 12 months or so?! There was a lot of talk throughout last year about wanting 2020 to be over. We wanted to get past the elections. We wanted to have a vaccine for COVID. And we wanted to see the riots stop and the right changes made in the world. We thought that things would be better when that happened.
But was it? Not really.
I’ve been thinking lately about the challenges and difficulties that keep coming up in my life. There was a lot in 2020. But if I’m honest, there were a lot of challenges before 2020 as well. They were just different.
And this isn’t true for just me. Life is full of challenges for everyone. Some challenges are bigger than others. Some last longer. There are challenges that change the way you live life moving forward, and there are some that you can get past and resume life as “normal”.
Why do some people overcome and others get stuck?
There are two ways to respond when challenges come.
Get stuck in it
There are some people that face challenges in life and it overcomes them. They feel stuck in the situation, unable to move forward. It feels like life is caving in all around them.
I’ve been that person before.
When my husband and I went through marriage challenges years ago, it consumed me. It was all I could think about it. My life wasn’t going the way that I had expected it to go. There were so many obstacles ahead of me and I was unsure of what the future would look like. But for a long time, I thought, “When we can just get past this one step, things will get better.”
But it took a long time. And I’m talking years. There was a point in my life when I wondered if I would ever be able to go two days in a row without crying. I wondered if I would ever be able to move forward. I was just felt stuck in a difficult situation for years.
Take it in stride
Then there are the people that just take difficult situations in stride. They know the situation is happening, but they don’t allow it to become the only thing in their life. They don’t stay stuck in it forever.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think there are difficult situations that can come along and consume a lot of your life for a time. Illness or death of a loved one. Relationship troubles. Financial hardships. And there are more. But we have to stop letting problems consume us. And we have to stop thinking that things will be better when a certain thing happens.
If we’re going to take that approach to life, we’re always going to be waiting for that day when things will be better, and that day will never come.
So what can we do instead?
1. Stop feeling like it’s only you
When you’re going through problems, it’s easy to think that you’re the ONLY one who has it so bad. And I don’t want to minimize whatever the situation is that you’re going through. But I also think it’s important to realize that there is nothing new under the sun at this point.
You are not the only one with problems and chance are very good that you’re not the only one with the problem that you have. It has always helped me to hear the story of someone who has went through a struggle similar to mine and came through on the other side.
It lets you know that you’re not alone and things will eventually get better.
2. Stop playing the victim role
Victim mentality is a big problem in the world right now. Everyone seems to want to be offended about something and everyone seems to think that people are out to get them.
There are real situations in the world that people are victim to. But even in those situations, we don’t have to give in and stay there. When you have a victim mentality, you constantly feel that people are against you. You think they are purposefully doing things to hurt you, wrong you, or hold you back.
Maybe some of them are. But there’s also a chance that they aren’t and you’re just playing the role.
And here’s the thing. Regardless of whether people are wronging you or not, you have the power to decide to rise above it with your actions and attitudes. But you’ll never take the step to make positive changes in your life if you continue to focus on the mindset that you’re a victim.
Choose to leave the victim mindset behind.
3. Stop waiting for the “thing” to go away
As I mentioned before, if you keep waiting for your negative or difficult situation to go away before you take action or make a change, you’re going to be waiting a long time. One difficult situation may pass but another will be on its way eventually.
And I know that might sound like I’m being negative. But it’s not that. I want you to be realistic. Life is full of hardships. We’re all people interacting with other people, which means there will be relationship struggles whether it’s with family or friends. There will be health struggles. For many, there will be financial struggles. There’s just all different kinds of difficult situations that we may face in life.
If you keep a mindset of waiting for the bad things to pass, you’re delaying action that you could be taking now. This will keep you stuck.
4. Look for what you can do RIGHT NOW
You may be in a difficult situation that you don’t have a lot of control over. But the one thing that you can still control is your attitude. Are you going to let this situation get the best of you? Are you going to be consumed by the problem? Or are you going to start to take whatever little action that you can to do something positive?
I’ve been in the place of being stuck before. When I let my problems consume me, I became depressed. It was hard to care about things like cleaning the house, cooking dinner, paying the bills, and all the other normal everyday types of tasks. I didn’t feel like I had any control over the “big thing” in my life, so I lost control of all the little things too.
Please learn from my mistake. Doing that will only make things worse, it will not make it any better.
When things started to get a little better is when I started to look at what I could do to improve my mindset and situation for the day. It started with very small things. I made my bed every morning. That was such a simple task, but it gave me one place in my house that was clean. Not my room, just my bed. But this little thing eventually started to spread to other areas.
I also put comforting and encouraging Bible verses up around the house and read them constantly. I listened to praise and worship music more. And I started to fill my head with positive things and eventually I felt a little more hopeful.
You are the only person who can choose how you think. Even if you can’t control anything else, you have the power to control your thoughts so choose them wisely.
5. Get control of your feelings and emotions
Ahh, feelings and emotions. They are such a difficult thing and they can be incredibly powerful if we allow them to.
I used to operate from the mindset that I had no control over my feelings and emotions. They were what they were and if I felt a certain way, that must be how it was.
That’s a dangerous place to be. If you struggle with feelings and emotions, please hear me out—your feelings and emotions can be liars!
Yes, you may actually feel the way that you feel, but it doesn’t mean you should be feeling that way. And if we’re not careful, we allow our feelings to control our thoughts and then our thoughts control our actions. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
- I feel my husband is being rude to me. This puts me in a bad mood because I don’t think he has any reason to be acting the way he is. This causes me to be rude to him. I think it’s his fault. He thinks it’s my fault. Eventually, we’re arguing and don’t really know why.
- I feel my friend is ignoring me. She has called me in three days. She must be mad at me about something. I overanalyze all our conversations and finally jump to a conclusion about why she’s mad and ignoring me. This makes me angry at her, so I don’t reach out to her either. If she’s going to be that way, it’s on her.
- I feel afraid to get on a call with a potential client. I feel like I’m going to sound stupid and they won’t want to work with me. So, I cancel the call and try to encourage communicating through email instead. They end up finding someone else to work with and I lose out on a client I could have had.
I’m not saying that you don’t actually feel the way you do. But I am saying that you shouldn’t let however you “feel” be what’s in control of your life. You need to show your feelings where their place is and it’s not in the driver’s seat of your life.
If you allow yourself to be controlled by your emotions, you will regret it. You will say and do things in life that you shouldn’t. And you’ll experience negative and difficult situations that you don’t need to.
6. Enjoy life in the moment
Life might not look like you want it to right now. I can identify with that. I think most people can right now.
If we could wave a magic wand and change the current situation, I don’t think anyone would pass up that chance. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be enjoyed right now. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that we can be thankful for right now.
If you’re going through a challenging time, be very intentional about seeking out the things that you enjoy. Make time to play a game with your kids, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Take time to read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand for months. Pick up the phone and actually call a friend just to chat.
I wasted way too many years of my life waiting for the difficult situation to go away before allowing myself to not be controlled by it. Don’t follow in my footsteps.
What’s one action you can take today to start changing your mindset?