FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Stuff happens. And you can’t always control it. Sometimes what happens is completely out of your hands (ummm hello covid…and many other things!). But you are not out of control of your life. Because you have 100% control over how you react to things in life. You CHOOSE how to address problems, difficulties, and obstacles. You CHOOSE how to view your situation in life (do you only see the difficulties or do you see how much good stuff you actually have?)
It’s a little bit like the weather. There is good weather, bad weather, crazy weather and you don’t have control over that. BUT you do have control over how you plan or dress for the weather that is happening. If you choose to go out in the snow in a mini skirt, you will probably be very cold. If you go out in the hot sun without sun cream then you may burn. BUTTTTT if you choose to react in a good way – wrapping up warm in winter, wearing sun cream or a hat in the summer etc then you can take control of how the weather impacts you. Not only can you reduce any negative reactions, but you can also improve the happiness you can gain from it! (put a snowboard on, and that snow that's awful weather for driving, suddenly becomes the perfect weather!)
So if we hop back out of that metaphor for a second, and apply that to dealing with situations in life rather than dealing with the weather, we realise that our approach has sooo much power and can totally define our experience through life (as well as the direction our lives go in). So here are a few techniques I use to make sure my mindset is ready to weather any storm....
1. Accepting responsibility for the state of our lives is difficult but so important. In accepting that you have power over your life, you have to take full responsibility for how it is now (no blaming anyone or anything, however tempting that can be for us all!). But it is that responsibility that EMPOWERS you and allows you take control of your life - actively deciding your reaction to events, your habits and actions, and your approach to life. If the way it is now is all up to you...then the way it could be in future is also all up to you.
2. Gratitude - whatever our situation, there are always things we can be grateful for.... dark times are the opportunity to see the lights we often forget about but that are always there. We notice the basic things (water, food, electricity, health, roof over our heads, a phone) that we're so lucky to have. In any given situation, if we program our minds to notice and focus upon the good things, then instantly we are much happier and more content.
3. It is only in the difficult times that we grow (the comfort zone doesn't do much for us unfortunately) - I try to acknowledge and appreciate the strength and grit it takes to get through tough times, the lessons I can learn from this difficulty and also the things I can take forward and use in life. When things aren't going to plan, focus on:
- how this will help you grow as a person
- how much stronger and more informed you will be in future because you persevered in the face of adversity
- the emotional intelligence & understanding you can get from this challenge
- how courageous you are in overcoming this and the confidence this will give you for facing future challenges.
4. Don't feel that you always have to appear okay! Letting it out (whether that's having a good cry, having a rant to a friend, speaking to a therapist etc) is so healthy. You can get through anything (you ABSOLUTELY can) but you also are allowed to let out that emotion. Take time to work out what's going on in your head, allow that emotion to release and tell yourself it's okay that you feel like that. But alongside that, also acknowledge that you're not powerless in this situation and when you can, decide that you're going to take steps to move forward positively from here.
5. LAUGH! You might as well! The situation will be the same whether you laugh or cry, so see the funny side - if you spill beans all over the kitchen, laugh at yourself for being a numpty and tidy it up....if an interview goes tits up, well at least you've got a great funny story to laugh at in years to come! We are so quick to chide ourselves and feel frustrated with ourselves but if your friend was there and you were covered in flour from head to toe, you'd laugh with them right?!?! So forgive yourself, fall in love with the humility of being able to laugh when things go wrong or you muck up. (Also, sidenote: We don't cackle away with our friends years later about things that went right - we laugh about the time my costume broke as I was supposed to be starting a show, the time I fell off a 6ft stage, the time we were at different stations and couldn't work out why we couldn't see each other.....those are the memories we regale in hysterics after a glass of wine!)
So.... you've accepted responsibility for your life, and taken back the reins - from there you can move forward with this regained control over your life - make good decisions, form good habits, choose to see the positives, react with courage, laughter or gratitude. Learn lessons and grow. Appreciate how this might be setting you up for the next season of your life. As the quote goes, "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing", so maybe we should follow suit.