This week in my video I wanted to address how people can remain optimistic even in the face of adversity. With the help of my ever cheerful partner, I’d managed to reframe a broken glass as a stroke of luck (I didn’t break the more precious water jug). However, how could I apply the same principle to something much more serious? Is it possible to continue to feel lucky when really difficult things happen?
There seem to be several different answers to this question.
- Lucky people often imagine a much worse situation and feel relieved that their suffering is much less. They may employ the “at least” principle. So they’ll appreciate what hasn’t happened to them. The being shot in the arm by a bank robber is an example of this: “At least I didn’t get shot through the heart”
- Lucky people will usually appreciate what is available to them, rather than what they’ve lost. So if they’re made redundant, they’ll appreciate the fact that they may have a redundancy payment, extra time and a break from work.
- Lucky people will see a difficult situation as an opportunity to grow. They’ll see the situation as a challenge. They’ll use it to gain new skills. They’ll grow determination, courage, confidence and resilience.
- Lucky people don't blame themselves when bad things happen. They take responsibility for their mistakes but they see these as learning experiences that will help them to improve.
It seems to me that anxiety and confidence are closely linked. Anxiety often centres on imagined future scenarios and the thought that these would be a dreadful experience. Anxious people do not trust themselves to be able to cope. They are not confident in themselves or their abilities.
A sense of luckiness seems connected to confidence. Lucky people are not overwhelmed by fear. They do not dread future events as they do not imagine that these will defeat them. They do not experience crippling anxiety. They feel confident that they will cope.
So how is it possible for those of us who feel anxious, to feel more confident?
- Appreciate the very many things we do have. This can be material, physical things. It can be relationships. It can be ourselves. It can be so very easy – especially if we have suffered any type of bullying, criticism or abuse – to underestimate our skills. And yet those who have suffered bullying or abuse have tremendous strengths such as resilience, determination, adaptability and perception. One side of the coin is anxiety, the other is a formidable ability to cope with difficult circumstances.
- In recognising the abilities that have been forged through difficult situations, it is possible to reframe those circumstances as something that made us strong. For example, people who have experienced domestic violence often speak about moving from being to victim to a survivor – and then to a "thriver". They have worked through the grief, loss, anger and shame, and used the situation as an opportunity to work on themselves. They emerge from the process stronger and wiser.
- By being aware of when the inner critic is at work. Over-thinking or rumination is fuel to the critic's fire. Rather than seeking to blame ourselves when something goes wrong, we can choose to let it go. We can choose to accept that this thing happened but there is no need to make it into a drama.
- Being aware that we're attached to outcomes can help us to recognize that we're living in a "hoped for" rather than an actual future. Rather than ruminating on the future, why not live for the moment?
- There is no substitute for experience! Experiencing challenging situations - such as trying something different or new - grows courage and confidence. Experiencing the scary means becoming more familiar with the feeling of fear, learning to tolerate it, and working through it to the elation of having met a personal challenge.
- Being open to experience means being more available to opportunity. This tips us towards feeling lucky as we begin to notice “lucky breaks”. In fact, they were always there, we just hadn’t seen them because we were too absorbed in our worries and concerns.
If you need help to talk about:
- why you feel anxious
- overcoming past difficulties
- how to face the future with confidence
I am available for one to one counselling and coaching sessions. I work both face to face and online. You can email me (see contact form on the home page) or phone me on 07506269473.
My video this week talks about facing difficult circumstances. If you're reading this by email you can find it on my website www.thegoodenoughmum.com/videos