Stay Strong

If movie soundtracks have taught us one thing, it’s that it can’t rain all the time and the sun will come out tomorrow. The hard part, though, is knowing how to stay strong until the storm passes. Life would be so much easier if it were all rainbows and sunshine every day, wouldn’t it? Sadly, that’s not reality. Hard times are an inescapable fact of human existence. Sometimes, life gets so hard that we don’t know how we’ll possibly manage to stay strong in the face of what’s happening. From dealing with global crises to personal tragedies, how do you find your inner strength?

You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have

Bob Marley

Without adequate mental strength, life’s inevitable challenges will likely fill you with self-doubt and anxiety. Those uncomfortable feelings can lend way to negative thinking. And negative thinking will affect your behavior–which can inadvertently turn your catastrophic predictions into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Staying strong in the midst of hardship requires you to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Paying attention to all three areas will help you emerge from your struggles even stronger than before. To remember how to stay strong during life’s toughest challenges, follow the ABC formula.

Accept reality.

Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. Instead, it’s about acknowledging what is happening from a realistic standpoint. Digging in your heels and saying “I shouldn’t have to deal with this” only wastes your valuable time and energy. Accepting what is happening right now–regardless of whether you think it’s right–is the first step in deciding how to respond.

For example, one person stuck in a traffic jam says, “This isn’t fair! Why do these things always have to happen to me?” His thoughts cause him to feel angry, frustrated, and anxious. He starts banging his fists on the dashboard and screaming at other drivers.

Another driver who is stuck in the same traffic jam reminds himself, “There are millions of cars on the road every day. Traffic jams are bound to happen sometimes.” His point of view helps him stay calm and he listens to a podcast while he waits for cars to start moving again.

Accepting reality is about recognizing what’s within your control. When you can’t control the situation, focus on controlling yourself.

Behave productively.

Accepting reality helps you manage your thoughts and regulate your emotions–which are key to productive behavior. The choices you make when you’re faced with problems determine how quickly you’ll find a solution.

Even when you’re faced with a problem you can’t solve–like the loss of a loved one–you make choices about how to respond.

Unproductive behavior, like complaining or throwing a pity party, will keep you stuck. Those behaviors will rob of mental strength.

So it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do right now to help myself?” Whether productive behavior involves facing a fear, or doing something you really don’t want to do, take action.

Control upsetting thoughts.

Your mind can be your best asset or your biggest enemy. If you believe your negative thoughts, your self-limiting beliefs will prevent you from reaching your greatest potential.

Thinking “This will never work. I’m not good enough” or “I can’t stand one more minute of this” will derail you from reaching your goals. It’s important to recognize when your inner monologue becomes overly pessimistic. Remember that just because you think something, doesn’t make it true.

Talk to yourself as you’d talk to a trusted friend. When your thoughts become catastrophic or unhelpful, respond with a more realistic statement that confirms your ability to handle your struggles.

The hardest thing about finding your strength is that you only really discover it through tough times. Sure, you can build yourself up ahead of time and prepare to stay strong, but we can only find out if our strategies work when our strength is truly tested. Kind of like how you don’t know if your favorite tree will survive a hurricane until it actually does. So, yes, you can build yourself up beforehand, but remain flexible enough to adjust your strategies when the hurricane hits. Last but not least, remember, you can stay strong because you are strong.

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