By Catherine Pulsifer
When all seems to be doom and gloom, there are still positive possibilities; you just have to look for them. Too often, we only focus on the negatives.
Learn to look at every difficult situation as a present; the gift within is the possibilities it holds. To open the gift you must find the "possibility."
When you are in a difficult or a stressful situation, reflect on the following four questions:
1) Could it be worse?
2) Are there lessons I can learn to avoid a similar situation in the future?
3) What good can be realized?
4) What am I going to do about it?
COULD IT BE WORSE?
In the majority of cases, there is always a worse situation we could be in. By reflecting on a worse situation, it helps put the current situation into perspective.
ARE THERE LESSONS I CAN LEARN TO AVOID A SIMILAR SITUATION IN THE FUTURE?
Look at the situation. Could it have been avoided? Don’t go beating yourself up for not realizing this previously. Learn from the situation. Mistakes are our greatest teachers! No sense dwelling on the issue. Recognize and think of ways for the future to avoid a similar situation and then move on! Remember you can’t change the past, but you can change the future!
WHAT GOOD CAN BE REALIZED?
This is the gift. Rather than focusing our energy and thoughts on the negative of the situation, look for the positive. Sometimes you have to look hard, sometimes you don’t even realize until later. But in every situation, there is positive, you just have to find it! By focusing on the positive you are helping to reduce your stress levels!
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
In my opinion, this is the most critical! What are you going to do? Often just by taking action, by doing something about the situation can relieve the stress and help correct the situation.
Here are a couple of real life examples:
Example 1 -You have lost your job.
*Could it be worse? You bet. You could have lost your health and without your health you could not obtain any type of work.
*Are there lessons you could learn? Depending on the circumstances, absolutely. Did you bring value to your company, (suggesting ways to improve company profits, continuing your education, etc) or, did you see the situation coming but did nothing to further yourself, such as looking for other employment.
*What good can be realized? You can look for a job in an area that you have an interest in where you may find a better opportunity.
*What am I going to do? Start looking for another job!
Example 2 – I don’t have enough money to buy Christmas presents.
*Could it be worse? You bet! You could not have enough money to pay your rent/mortgage.
*Are there lessons you could learn? Possibly. Could you have started your shopping earlier taking advantage of sales; could you have made your own gifts; etc?
*What good can be realized? Look around you and be thankful for what you have, appreciate life. Sometimes a note to someone just telling them what they have meant in your life is worth more than anything money could buy. Great suggestions you say, but what if the gifts are for my children – they don’t want a note. In these cases, ask for help. There are times in all of our lives we need help from others. I truly believe what comes around, goes around. The day will come when your circumstances will be better and you will be able to help a family.
*What am I going to do? Rather than sit and feel sorry for yourself, take action, write that letter, ask for help!
Example 3 – A simple everyday example is a situation I found myself in last week. I was behind in my work, major projects were overdue. I was creating stress for myself just thinking about everything I had to accomplish. I stopped for two minutes and asked myself the four questions:
*Could it be worse? Yes, I could have no job, no income
*Are there lessons I could learn? Yes, I need to set more realistic deadlines, and employ better time management skills.
*What good can be realized? The realization that I was overwhelming myself to the point I was wasting time. Rather than thinking about it, and shuffling the paper from one pile to the next, if I broke the projects down and focused on the smaller task I could have them done by the end of the week.
*What am I going to do? I prioritized and started working with a focus, rather than an overwhelming feeling.
If you focus on the possible when you experience difficult situations, YOU CAN positively change your outlook, reduce your stress, and concentrate on achieving things that otherwise may not have been possible.
Catherine Pulsifer is one of the authors of Stress Less Country – a lifestyle change! A journey to a simplified lifestyle – visit the site for a collection of articles, thoughts, quotes, and stories on: simplicity, stress, gardening, recycle & reuse, country crafts, saving money tips, and Atlantic Canada.