We all go through tough times.
A few examples of mine are:
- Multiple consecutive breakups
- Walking away from a business that could have made me a lot of money
- Having my career come to a grinding halt
- Dealing with mental illness
The list is very long and I’m sure yours is similar. It’s not about the tough times we go through though because they are guaranteed and you already knew that before you clicked this article.
What matters during tough times is what you tell yourself.
This is what I say to myself during tough times — well there’s actually four things I say to myself depending on the tough time I’m facing:
“This will pass”
No event in your life lasts forever. Today may be a really tough day, but that won’t last forever. We delude ourselves at times by saying in our head “I’m always going to be like this.”
“Why does this always happen to me?”
“Here we go again.”
These negative phrases tell our brain that things are never going to get better. When we say these phrases to ourselves enough, we start to believe them. During a difficult period in your life, in that moment, things will suck.
The way to get out of your head is to see the truth: this will pass. In one day, one month, or one year this tough situation will have passed and you’ll be onto the next part of your life.
Nothing lasts forever unless you allow your mind to trap you in the moment and believe a lie which is that this moment won’t pass. It will. You will come out the other side.
“I’ll be stronger having dealt with this situation”
When you reframe your tough times into strength building exercises, they take a whole new meaning.
All of a sudden, your current situation that may be wearing you down becomes like reps at the gym. The reps are a struggle and it hurts, but if you keep moving forward, you end up with mental toughness and strength.
“Exchange your tough times for mental toughness”
See this challenging situation for what it is. It’s the chance to come out the other end stronger.
Stack your tough times up like gold medals.
Have you dealt with cancer? Good, then you won’t take your health for granted ever again.
Have you lost a loved one? Then you’ll never take the rest of your family for granted and care for them more than you did before.
Did you lose your job? Amazing! Now you can work somewhere else and discover more of your hidden talents!
Without tough times, you won’t have the strategies you need to deal with the impossible. Your heroes are your heroes because they’ve used their tough times to become stronger.
Failure and rejection are the building blocks to whatever your definition of success is. Tough times make you hungry and that’s a good thing.
“Keep taking baby steps forward”
Tough times can feel like quicksand sometimes.
If you don’t keep moving forward though, you’ll eventually sink into the quicksand. The best thing you can do during the toughest of challenges is take baby steps.
When I battled severe anxiety, I took baby steps such as these:
- Walked 15 minutes a day
- Drank an extra glass of water each day to hydrate my body
- Read one book a month on anxiety
- Exposed myself to one small fear each day. It started with going two levels in a lift (something I couldn’t do before). Then I’d go three levels the next day and so on.
That last dot point is critical. Overcoming tough times requires you to take baby steps in the form of being uncomfortable. When you’re growing each day, you don’t have time to be too concerned about a particular tough time.
My battle with anxiety eventually led me to flying long distances (another thing I couldn’t do before) and then speaking on stages in front of a lot of people.
As you can see, the first few steps — like going two floors in a lift — are quite small. Then the steps get bigger and bigger until what used to seem impossible becomes a piece of cake.
Take baby steps.
“It only takes one person”
Tough times often require someone to believe in you. From my experience, you only need one person.
One person to believe in your idea.
One person to love you.
One person who has gone through the same tough times as you.
This one person exists. You have to go out there and find them. That one person for me was a team leader when I was working in a call center. He believed in me enough to take me aside and coach me one on one.
He believed I was going to go on and change the world through personal development. He was right and I did!
Don’t give up. Your one person exists as well.
These four things are what I tell myself during a tough time. One of these phrases will always be the right one depending on the circumstance.
Believe that there is a way out and you’ll find one. It’s during the tough times that you’ll develop the skills and experience to help others.
What I’ve learned is that to get through the tough times, one of the best hacks is to focus on helping others. When you’re focusing on how you can serve, your own selfish problems become insignificant.
Seek out people who have even bigger problems than you do and listen to them. See if you can help them.
That’s how you deal with the tough times.
Tell yourself the truth. You deserve to hear it.