End of Your Rope? Tips for Tying a Knot.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

You’ve a taken a hit. A big hit. Circumstance may seemingly have gotten the best of you. Now what?

First off, congratulate yourself. Because you must have taken a risk in order to fail.  You took a chance on a relationship or a house or a job and it didn’t work.  But you took a chance. That doesn’t make you a loser, it makes you a risk taker.  Big difference.

Also remembered that a person’s true character is revealed when shit gets real and things get hard.  If you’re super when the going is all good, that's not that hard to do.   

As Stephen Covey says, “Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

But, for now, that’s not much comfort is it? Right now, you’re hanging on.  So what do you do to SURVIVE?

Grieve. Then Move on. Don’t avoid it. Sit with the ick - look at it, learn from it, write about it. Then you gotta move on. A Stanford study run by psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema found that those who initially experience deep grief and depression but then recover in six months have more coping abilities than those who avoid or prolong grieving. 

Adaptive coping, Nolen-Hoeksema says, involves "doing things that renew your sense of control and take your mind away from your worries for a short time. People typically use things like sports or hobbies or going somewhere with a friend, such as to a movie or shopping," she said. "A little bit of distraction leads to more motivation to do more pleasant activities. You can start small and build."

This leads right into the next Ivy League piece of advice.

Fake it till you make it. In other words, hang on and go through the motions.  Take a shower, go to work, take care of yourself and your family. Force yourself to live your life like it’s not all going to hell.

Harvard says this works: “High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices.” 

The Harvard psychologist running this study, Amy Cuddy, translates the results by saying, “We don’t just fake it 'til we make it; we fake it 'til we become it.” Or as Socrates put it, "Be as you wish to seem."  

Reframe your perspective. You’re not cursed or a loser. Just because the world seems to be punishing you does not mean you need to punish yourself.  

As you go about faking confidence and normalcy, start thinking positive and start creating solutions. The Scientists call this “Cognitive Restructuring” or “Reframing.” It is the process of influencing negative or untrue assumptions.  It’s not just “think happy thoughts” BS either. 

Stanford, again, weighs in with research. Ashley A. Shurick of the Department of Psychology at Stanford University led a study that found  “cognitive restructuring can lead to lasting changes in emotional responding, demonstrating the durable effects of this regulatory technique.”

While it’s great to know research supports long term benefits for moving on and thinking positive thoughts, achieving this is easier said than done. 

Thankfully, there are well-studied strategies on moving forward with successful cognitive restructuring. This article by Psychology Today, takes readers step by step through proven process and techniques for Cognitive Reframing. 

And finally, remember, you’re not alone.  Many people fall on hard times. Talk to others, get help and then hang on to that knot you made.  You’re gonna make it.

-HU




Human Unlimited
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