Life is beautiful. Every day, there is a multiplicity of things that we celebrate and treasure. Everyone definitely has someone or something to be thankful for in their lives every day. At the same time, life can be unbearably difficult. Apart from change, setbacks are a constant that will characterise nearly every part of our lives, from our teenage years to adulthood, and even to our golden years.
Our responses to these obstacles are understandably different. A couple of us may possess the fortitude to weather the storm singlehandedly, while some others may somehow tide through difficult periods by drawing strength from their families and friends. But there will inevitably be a group of us who feel that we have been through so much pain that we are paralyzed by our emotions, and don’t believe that whatever we do makes a difference anymore. In short, this isolated group of us often see ourselves as losers by nature.
Isn’t it tremendously saddening to know that there are brilliant people free-falling and allowing their predicaments to severely affect and redefine them, when they really deserve to live their lives happily? These people have become a shadow of their former selves, but we know that, even for them, the road to recovery isn’t one that is unendurable, however fraught with difficulties it might be. With the right attitude and some effort, we can definitely get out of the seemingly endless abyss that unconsciously drains our vitality and life.
1. Your Mind Is Your Greatest Fortress
An individual’s attitude truly plays an integral role in recovering his self-confidence. Most of the time, the toughest obstacles we have to overcome are usually introduced by the self. After facing a setback in life, however traumatic it might be, it is not the failure per se that continues to restrain us as time goes by, but our self-imposed beliefs that we are inherently weak that do so. The keys required to free ourselves from these mental prisons can be found in the depths of one’s mind.
It is not easy to react positively to anything when you are depressed, emotional, hurting, and fatigued. In fact, there will be days when you feel that the world is against you, and that everything you love, everything you stand for, is falling apart. Life becomes almost purposeless, even if you intentionally try to make it purposeful by scheduling activities and plans. You may feel like you are becoming invisible, because no one seems to understand what you have been going through.
But remember this: you can be hurt, sorrowful, or deranged, but never give up. Be sad, be angry, be disconsolate, be frustrated, because you are going through one of the toughest periods of your life. Such negative reactions, however defeatist it may seem to onlookers, are perfectly congruent with your present state. If happiness were so easily available in situations like this, it wouldn’t be called hardship.
2. Take On Your Demons One At A Time
After a bad patch, it can be very difficult to regain the confidence to move forward. Many of us do not lack that drive to make a change in our lives, but we often become afraid or even helpless when we realise how insurmountable these obstacles can be. When this emotional trauma assails us, we lose the motivation to stay afloat in life, and quietly retreat into our shells, thinking that nothing we do will make a difference anyway. Our perception that we are merely good-for-nothings further reinforces the negativity in ourselves, trapping us in a cycle of inferiority that we may never escape.
Although overcoming obstacles in our way can be very difficult, we have to recognise that it is never impossible. One way to leave the infinite loop of inferior complexity is to deconstruct your problems, and take tangible steps to address a small part of them every day. This approach worked wonders for me in my Junior College years, when I had a dream to be a writer, but did not have the English proficiency to achieve it. It is easy to imagine how poor my proficiency in the language was when I was constantly flunking my examinations in school.
I desperately wanted to improve, but I just couldn’t when I regarded the problem as a whole – English covers such a wide range of issues, from grammar to vocabulary to diction. I was unsure where to begin, and uncertain if my efforts would even bear fruit. Soon, the immensity of the task consumed me. My plans came to a complete halt.
Things really changed, however, when I changed my perspective, and learnt to take on my demons, one by one. Each time I struck off an item on my to-do list, I was relieved that I was one step closer to my goal. It was then that I realised that breaking your problems down into many parts can actually serve as a form of encouragement, as the resolution of one portion of an intractable issue is an accomplishment in itself, and that gives people in distress exactly what they need – some hope, or proof that things are getting better.
3. Walk The Talk
Overcoming a setback isn’t easy, and it certainly won’t get any easier simply by reading an article. In order to come back stronger as a person, we need to be very committed to making that a reality. With regard to goal-setting, we have all been there before; there is a tendency for us to think that if we complete X number of mathematics practices or spend Y amount of time swinging a baseball bat, we would achieve the outcome we want. It’s that simple.
But if we eventually fail to become the baseball player we envisaged ourselves to be, or score 3 grades below our expectations for a mathematics test, the very first thing many of us invariably will do is to question the causality of this effort-result relationship – will this plan or routine really give me the results I desire? Of course, many of us think the answer is no. We will think that a lot more effort is required, and most of us will just give up, undoing all the previous good work. In worse cases, some of us might even doubt ourselves, and wrongly believe that the problem lies within; we think that despite how hard we have worked, we just do not have the capacity or talent to stand up again in life.
Most of us who fall in this category tried to escape the truth, and we did so by overcomplicating matters. The only way for us to move forward is to stare hard at the facts: we have simply not worked hard enough. Our failures have nothing to do with our planning or ability; we have just not invested sufficient effort into our endeavours. So, rather than dwelling on past mishaps, dedicate your time to achieving your objectives, and promise yourself to live by your words. If you are committed enough, it may kickstart something beautiful in your life.