Heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? It’s a small thing that makes a larger load overwhelming. In modern life, that could mean a traffic backup on the way to work, or a printer jamming in the middle of a large report. They may not be major problems, but they can send our stress levels soaring.
How we deal with life’s minor setbacks can mean the difference between wallowing in despair or learning from the experience and moving forward.
Here are some tips on how to keep little setbacks from ruining your day.
Don’t Dwell on the Situation
While feeling sad, angry, or even scared are normal reactions to adversity, try not to give into them. Likewise, blaming yourself or resenting others for the problem are, at best, non-productive and, at worst, destructive.
Instead, allow yourself time to think and cool down. It’s easy to immediately blow off steam in a scathing email, but that won’t resolve the situation. In fact, such an impulsive (and unprofessional) act could permanently damage a working relationship – or even your career.
Humans are wired for negativity, which means developing a positive mindset takes effort.
“Living inside a critical mind will not allow you to live a satisfied life….it’s actually sapping your brain of precious mental energy,” says Dr. Jennifer Guttman, a clinical psychologist, in an article for NBC News.
Some ways to think more positively:
- Develop a mantra to help refocus your energy. “This places you in a growth-minded mentality along with ridding yourself of self-pity for things not going exactly how you want them to be going,” according to
- Surround yourself with positive people. “When you’re trying to push through a roadblock, solitude is your enemy,” notes Forbes. “Seek out the can-do people in your network. Confide in them and enlist them to help you overcome your obstacle.”
- Find positive distractions. Try flipping through photos of your favorite people, pets, or places. Or listen to a few of your favorite tunes. Both strategies enlist positive emotions to help redirect negative thinking.
Take Control and Make a Plan
Now, use that positive energy to regain control of yourself and the situation. What steps can you take to resolve the issue? How can you get ready to hit the ground running again?
Maybe you simply need to wait things out – for a late shipment to arrive, or for another part of the project to be completed before yours can begin.
While you’re waiting, consider whether you could have taken any actions to avoid the setback. Forbes recommends using this time to “seek feedback and advice from trusted colleagues and mentors for ways to get moving again.”
Then, create a plan that proactively addresses the kink in the system so that you can potentially keep this issue from occurring again.
By taking control of the things you can control, you’ll be ready when the next setback occurs.
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