There are those life-changing moments that each of us face in our lives, which makes us question our existence. Circumstances out of our control that overwhelm us and feel hopeless about the future.
For me, it was a divorce, losing a house and leaving a career that I had worked hard to achieve. For you, it may be a breakup, loss or other painful life event. You never saw it coming and now that it has wrecked your life, you have no idea what’s next.
Here are 9 reminders to help encourage you when your life comes crashing down:
1. It can’t get any worse
If everything is falling apart and you’re experiencing the most profound pain you’ve experienced, know that it can’t get any worse. You’ve likely hit rock bottom; there’s no further down to go. And when you are down in life, the only place you can go is up. Breathe a sigh of relief at life’s worst point; it can only get better from here.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
2. You’ve come back from this before
Maybe not this painful or devastating, but you’ve come through this in your life before. When your back was against the wall and you didn’t feel like you had a future, you stepped up to the occasion and succeeded. You have the experience, tools and habit of resiliency to turn your life back around.
3. There is a lesson waiting for you here
There is a lesson, insight or growth waiting for you as you pull through. Your job is to find the meaning and the purpose of this pain. You may have a story to tell. This life circumstance may give you a message to share. This circumstance is your teacher, test and grade. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” ask, “What can this teach me?” Ace the lesson that life’s teaching.
4. Everything is temporary
Yes, everything. All circumstances, all pain and all hardship are temporary. Everything comes into your life and everything goes away. The challenges you are facing today will eventually disappear. The pain will lessen and tears will dry up. Your only job is to preserve each day until you get to a better day.
5. Success comes after failure
The good news is that failure is the breeding ground for success. Only when you find out what doesn’t work can you find out what does. After failing in a business, relationship or life goal, you would gain the experience and knowledge to do it better the next time around. The more you fail and the quicker you fail at life, the more experienced you become at navigating hardships and winning your life.
6. It gets better tomorrow
No matter how bad things are today, the sun will rise again tomorrow. You can welcome in new circumstances, new perspectives and a new day. Each day will bring new promises and hope, so hang on. Do the work you need to get through each day and also know brighter days are on the horizon.
7. This is your wake-up call
You may have been afraid to make changes or take a risk. This situation could be the unwanted but necessary wake-up call you needed in life. What do you need to know? What changes need to be made? What growth awaits you? What were you ignoring or not accepting in your life? How will you change now that it’s become more apparent and you’re more aware?
“Sometimes it takes a wake-up call, doesn’t it, to alert us to the fact that we’re hurrying through our lives instead of actually living them; that we’re living the fast life instead of the good life. And I think, for many people, that wake-up call takes the form of an illness.” – Carl Honore
8. This is your reset button
Ever wanted to start over but didn’t know how? Maybe you were in a unfulfilling relationship or in a career you hated. You always were wondering how to get out of it but had no options. Now that life has made the decisions for you, your job is to embrace the changes and make plans to start over. The best place to start anew and figure out a new life plan is when your life has fallen apart. This is your chance to start over from a blank slate.
9. There are rays of hope in the darkness
With every negative situation and dark life circumstance, there is a ray of hope in the distance. Instead of worry and fear, focus on what you can be grateful for today. What can you be thankful for today? What is the positive in the situation? How can this break in your favor?
How can life or the circumstances turn out better than what you can possibly imagine? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?
When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?
Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.
Let’s park this one for now and we will come back.
Categorization is essential to our survival
There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses.
The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.
An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting!
Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.
- lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.
Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored.
This amazing skill has its drawbacks
As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.
Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)
Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.
Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.
The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people?
We can overcome unconscious bias
Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals.
Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms.
Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals.
What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!
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Curiosity is human nature and it’s only natural that humans will lose interest in a topic after a while. This has been a topic that has been extensively explored among children, teenagers and adults by a psychologist with similar results being reported from each of the categories. Human’s minds are therefore prone to boredom, making it important for each professional to spend some time to understand the factors that drive boredom and strategies the individuals needs to use to overcome boredom and focus on their profession and development. (more…)
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Nobody likes wasting time, money or opportunities by making a bad business decision. We can certainly identify what “bad” looks and feels like, however we should be identifying what the “win” looks like too. Too often we focus on the bad, which puts us in victim mode that perpetuates a scarcity mindset which leads us directly into becoming frozen or stuck. (more…)
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