Sometimes life is overwhelming, and you might need a push in the right direction.
One of the most challenging adversities you’ll face in life is failure and trauma. Even though failure is something everyone must deal with it, most of us aren’t taught strategies how to move on and emerge with a stronger mindset. Trauma, on the other hand, can have long lasting and devastating effects on your mental health, which makes you less likely to cope with both obstacles and everyday tasks.
How to Deal with Failure
It’s impossible to succeed all the time. For every success, there might be hundreds of obstacles to overcome—which is all about overcoming adversity. But that’s okay because there are ways you can deal with failure effectively and even turn it to your advantage.
1. Overcoming adversity: Learn to see your worth and value
A lot of people struggle with failure or criticism because they see success as a measure of their worth. This is problematic because when they fail, they associate themselves with failure. To increase your self-worth, you should get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the former and try to cultivate them – set weekly goals and reflect on what you achieved so far.
An important part of increasing your self-worth is also learning how to love yourself. While it’s easier said than done, you can get there with baby steps. Set aside time every evening and reflect on the tasks you completed that day, as well as any of your achievements so far.
Get into a habit of praising yourself and being your number one cheerleader -- positive reinforcement is a great way to increase desired behaviors. The more you cheer yourself on, the more likely you are to be productive, which will give you more confidence and boost your self-esteem. Lastly, make sure you spend time with loved ones who remind you that you’re important to someone even if you fail. While success matters, you should also appreciate yourself for who you are as a person.
2. Overcoming adversity: Understand that failure is a part of the process
The more you try to achieve in life, the more you’ll fail. The only people who never fail are people who never try. Remember that the greatest writers faced rejections from many publishers before someone accepted their work and the greatest actors weren’t noticed until later in life.
If you decide to quit trying even though you’d had a goal, that’s the definition of failure right there. But if you cultivate and maintain a growth mindset, you’ll realize that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep on reading to find out what the growth mindset is.
3. Overcoming adversity: Cultivate a growth mindset
A growth mindset means that talents can be cultivated through hard work. People who believe their potential is unknown are more likely to develop an array of skills and have more chances to succeed as a result. If you think that there’s nothing you can do to better your situation, you’ll always be stuck in the same place and never improve as a person.
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To learn how to develop this mindset, you should try to be around inspiring people that motivate you to be the best version of yourself; for example, you could go to networking meetings. If it’s not possible for you to meet other people right now, you can always read an autobiography of someone successful. Don’t surround yourself with negativity and avoid people who say that your goals are impossible to achieve. See your challenges as opportunities by asking yourself each time, ‘What did I learn from it?” and “What can I do differently next time?”
4. Overcoming adversity: Accept the failure
Don’t try to fight the reality and dwell on what you did wrong. You might have made a mistake or perhaps there’s nothing you could have done better--it doesn’t matter. It is what it is and the only way from there is forward.
To practice acceptance and improve your mental health, observe your thoughts and whenever you catch yourself thinking that things shouldn’t be this way or that it’s not fair, simply tell yourself that it has already happened, and you should focus on the future. A simple reminder like that will help you get into a habit of adopting a more realistic mindset. Remember, if you assign more importance to the past than the future, you’re taking away a chance from yourself to have a future at all.
5. Overcoming adversity: Focus on developing your skills
Failure doesn’t always mean that your skills are lacking but if you see it as such, you’ll have more motivation to improve them. Instead of focusing on how bad failing makes you feel, consider where you can improve. Set small goals and try to make sure you do something that brings you closer to the goal every day. If you want to set up your own business, it doesn’t mean you have to prepare a business plan straight away. You can firstly just focus on developing the necessary skills you need and building professional connections.
6. Overcoming adversity: Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
While telling yourself that you should have tried harder might seem like a great motivator to push yourself more, it makes you less equipped to deal with failure. Instead of letting negative self-talk take over, replace it with positive statements.
Tell yourself you’ve done your best and that you can only improve from there. Putting yourself down will only slow down your progress by lowering your self-esteem and making you overthink a happening that you can’t change.
How To Deal with Trauma
Going through something traumatic has a negative impact on several areas of your life. You might feel helpless, lose interest in things you previously enjoyed, and struggle to readjust. But even though things are incredibly difficult right now, it’s important to keep going. Here are a few strategies that should help you minimize the impact of trauma:
1. Overcoming adversity: Let it all out
Don’t keep it in. If you’re angry, let yourself be angry; throw or punch a pillow, or scream your heart out. If you’re sad, let yourself cry. Ignoring your emotions won’t make them go away and you can’t erase the traumatic experience from your memory. If you let the emotions bottle up, you’ll prolong your recovery process.
Keep a journal where you write down your thoughts and feelings to facilitate this. Tell yourself it’s okay to feel whatever you’re currently feeling and there isn’t a right way to react to trauma. Do what feels right at the time. This will help improve your mood and mental health, while also help you overcome hardship.
2. Overcoming adversity: Find a supportive community
Sharing your experiences with people who went through the same thing can be extremely therapeutic and improve your mental health. People who experienced trauma often feel misunderstood and prefer to keep their feelings inside instead of expressing them. However, speaking about your emotions is another great way to process them and there’s a lot you must deal with, feelings of shame, guilt, anger, fear, etc.—all of which negatively impacts your mental health.
Sharing your experience with others can also give you an idea of what to do to heal from it as effectively as possible. You might learn about tricks to cope with daily activities, tips to keep yourself hopeful and gradually get back to your old life. Additionally, feeling supported can improve your resilience which is what you need to re-access your inner strength and overcome hardship.
3. Overcoming adversity: Sign up for therapy to improve your mental health
While there are many ways to manage your mental health on your own, nothing can be a substitute for professional help. A therapist can help you understand the emotions you’re experiencing, come to terms with the trauma and gradually regain control over your life.
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A great addition to talking therapy is EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy that can directly alter the way your memory is stored in the brain and then lessen the negative emotions associated with it. With the right help, you’ll learn to live in the present instead of focusing on your past.
4. Overcoming adversity: Prioritize self-care to enhance your mental health
People who experienced something traumatic face a lot more challenges than people who didn’t so don’t be harsh on yourself. The most important thing is that you want things to improve and that you’re already taking small steps towards a change. Let yourself take things slow and gentle to yourself -- you can’t speed up a mental health recovery. If you need an hour to get out of bed every day, accept it as a part of a healing process. If you need to have baths every evening, make sure you make yourself as relaxed as possible – you deserve to experience positive feelings.
You should also learn how to prioritize your wellbeing and mental health by increasing your self-compassion skills. Whenever you feel like judging yourself, imagine how you’d act if you were talking to a friend. Don’t rush to get back to your old self because it’s a long and difficult process. Focus on being kind to yourself first. Congratulate yourself on completing tasks and making the decision to heal. These are the keys to overcoming hardship.
Additionally, make sure you include something enjoyable in your routine that reminds you of what joy feels like, for example, watching your favorite show or going back into an old hobby. This should hopefully lift your mood and help you get some of the normality back.
5. Overcoming adversity: Find an activity that makes you feel empowered and happy
Going through trauma can make you doubt yourself and negatively affect your self-esteem. You might feel unsafe and experience thoughts that tell you that you aren’t good enough. Therefore, you should consider finding an activity that helps you regain some of the power. It’s a great idea also because trauma makes you feel out of control and adding an activity to your schedule can give you a sense of stability.
Additionally, it will allow you to connect with what you might be struggling to experience: pleasure, satisfaction, and hope. You can either reconnect with your old interests or sign up for a class and learn a new skill. While the latter can feel intimidating because it involves interaction with other people, there are plenty of classes dedicated to trauma survivors that are the most welcoming communities you can find. Doing sports such as martial arts or boxing is especially beneficial as it can make you feel stronger and help you express anger.
6. Overcoming adversity: Stay away from unhealthy distractions to improve your mental health
Indulging in unhealthy food or relying on drugs/alcohol to cope can seem like a quick fix but will have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing and mental health in the long run. When you’ve experienced a traumatic experience, you’re already in a vulnerable position and you need to put in a lot of work to be in the right place to start the recovery.
To give your mind and body a space to heal, you should make sure you eat healthy meals, include exercise in your routine and ensure you have good sleeping habits. Both mind and body affect each other so if you don’t let your body recover, you’re jeopardizing your chances to process the trauma.
Try to eat more fruits and vegetables, do yoga, and go to bed at the same time each time every day. However, remember that it’s okay if you need medication to function. A lot of people who went through trauma might be prescribed sleeping pills for short-term use and/or antidepressants, and it doesn’t mean they’re ‘cheating’ or have fewer chances of getting better.
7. Overcoming adversity: Surround yourself with loved ones
A traumatic experience can make you feel isolated and lonely, which is why you should make sure you keep in touch with friends and family. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you will allow you to become more resilient and help you deal with some of the trauma symptoms like withdrawal and lack of sense of safety.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and reassurance if you need it to help you overcome hardship – people who care about you will understand that you’re going through an extremely difficult time. Seeing a loved one suffer makes you feel helpless, so they’ll be happy to help you whenever you need them.
About the Contributor
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she started her freelance journey penning articles on mental health.
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