In life we are faced with obstacles and challenges every single day. Whether it’s having to deal with a demanding client at work, having to have a difficult conversation with your partner, or having one of your loved ones pass away, life can be just downright tough.
What if, regardless of your circumstances, there was a simple principle or practice, that when applied could make all of life’s challenges easier to navigate and overcome – would you adopt it?
The good news? There is. The bad news? Developing this principle takes time, self-awareness and hard work. More good news? Today I am going to share this principle with you.
But, before I get to that, I want you to think about something for me.
I want you to think back on the last few days and recall something that made you angry or upset. It could be something as simple as a nasty remark your spouse said to you, or the fact that you had to wait in traffic on the way to work.
When you’ve thought about something that’s annoyed or frustrated you, I want you to picture yourself in that situation again. Try and think of what you were saying to yourself, and what you were feeling at the time. For someone who has chosen ‘getting stuck in traffic’, a common thought might be “Hurry up, why is everybody driving so slow! I always have the worst luck when I’m driving to work”. Some common feelings might be: anger, impatience and frustration. Take a moment to reflect on your physical senses, your mindset and your emotion. Were you tense? What were the exact emotions you were feeling? What were you saying to yourself?
The point of this exercise is to gain self-awareness. To gain a better understanding of how you react when faced with a difficult situation. This is the first step you need to take if you want to improve your ability to deal with these kinds of situations. Over the next couple of weeks I want you to pay particular attention to how you react, and build up a better understanding of your thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Now for the magic! Once you are confident you have a good understanding of how you’ve been handling the difficult situations in your life, I want you to learn two simple principles.
1. If you are unhappy with a certain situation, circumstance or outcome in your life, and you have the power to change it, do it.
If you are unhappy with something in your life, do something about it. If the situation is within your control then you have the power to do something about it. Don’t complain, just act.
Remember: “If you want something to change, change something!”
2. If you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it.
The majority of things that happen in life are outside of our control. Consider things such as the weather, road traffic, the outcome of sports events, how much money you earn (to a certain extent) and so much more. Although there may be many situations that you are unable to control, there is one thing that you have complete control over, and that is how you choose to react to them.Now that you have built up your self-awareness and have a better understanding of how you react in difficult situations, you are more well equip to deal with them. The next time you you find yourself stuck in traffic on the way to work, when you start to feel angry and become impatient, remember that you have the power to choose how you react. Use positive self-talk. Remain calm. Try saying to yourself “The traffic is slow, no stress. More time for me to enjoy the music on the radio. Worrying about it isn’t going to help, so sit tight and you’ll be there in no time!”
The power of choosing your reaction in any situation in life is extreme. The more you become aware, the better you can craft your responses. It’s not going to be easy, but as with everything in life, with specific and direct effort, you will improve.
The next time you’re faced with a difficult situation, always remember:
“If you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it!”
Becoming aware of how you react in difficult situations is the first step in developing a mental arsenal to deal with them. Once you are aware, you can develop the power to choose how you react. Awareness is the key. The simple mantra “If you can’t control the situation, control your reaction to it” can be extremely powerful. Try saying it the next time you are struggling to deal with something. You’d be surprised at how powerful it can be to realize that you have the power to choose how you react in any situation.
Was this post helpful for you? Do you have your own technique for dealing with difficult situations? Feel free to share in the comment section below!
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