Two Ways To Learn From Difficult Situations

When it comes to dealing with difficult situations in life, most people would rather pass. (I know I would.) The bad news is that there’s no avoiding those painful situations; the good news is that they can teach us something—every time—if we’re open to it.

Make A Conscious Choice

You’ve probably heard experts say how we can always choose how to learn from situations. However, sometimes our “chosen” reactions are simply the automatic responses we’ve made all our lives—not realizing that there are alternatives which can lead to growth. Growth becomes possible when we step back and actually make a conscious choice about our reactions.

In an article on her Center For Inner Wellness website, Becky Waters describes what she calls our default operating mode. Most of us automatically respond by getting stressed, says Waters, because, “that’s typically our default programming, thanks to a well-working Reptilian brain. Anytime this instinctive coping part of our brain perceives danger, it automatically goes into fight, flight or freeze. However, we can learn to take a breath and allow the ‘message’ time to reach our more evolved decision-making brain.”

Psychologist Susan David also discusses this in her book “Emotional Agility.” During a recent podcast interview with Wharton University, Dr. David emphasized the power of conscious choice.

“Where we are today is a culmination of the decisions and choices we’ve made up to this point. Where we are tomorrow will depend on the choices we make today. If we don’t like what life seems to be giving us, we can decide to make a different choice – in our behavior or in our thinking.”

Learn To Overcome Fear

Perhaps one of the best ways to de-stress and ultimately evolve after any kind of tough situation is by overcoming the fear it creates. That starts by understanding that fear doesn’t come from without but rather from within us.

“While something could have happened to you that created the fear, such as a traumatic event, you must still move beyond it,” states a recent blog on the site Collective Evolution. “It may be difficult, but when you justify your fear, in whatever terms, you remain a prisoner to it.  You give yourself a reason to hold onto the fear because you’re telling yourself that this fear is coming from the outside instead of its true source, the inside. Once you become aware of something, you have the choice and power to change it.”

Starting with these two essential tools—conscious choice and moving beyond fear—we can become a better, more fulfilled version of ourselves in every aspect of life.

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And…if you find yourself struggling to increase your visibility and influence at work, Progressive Women’s Leadership is holding an upcoming webinar on this subject titled Gain a Seat at the Table: How Women Increase Their Influence & Visibility. It will run Thursday, December 8, 2016 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET, and I’m very proud to be the guest speaker for this program. Get more details or register today!

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