Saturday, 23 January 2016

Grit: Staying Strong When The Going Gets Tough

Guest post by Rayne Hall

Things will go wrong—that's normal. Anticipate this, and the obstacles won't have the power to shake you.

Imagine a martial artist whose goal is to win the regional karate championships. He's skilled, he trains, he has the right attitude. Will his path be obstacle-free? No! Every competitor in the contest will do the utmost to beat him to the win. Those he meets in a match will beat him up with ferocity.  Only a fool would expect the other contestants to surrender so he can win.

On top of that, life is going to add further hindrances. His regular trainer isn't available in the run-up to the event. On the big day, he wakes with a headache pounding his skull. Bad news about his father's health and worries the rent sap his mental focus. When it's time to drive to the venue, his car won't start.

These obstacles could be reasons to give up a goal—and many people do. Not you.

Mentally prepare yourself for obstacles on your way. Then, when you encounter one, you can say, "Ah, the first obstacle. What shall I do about it?"

Instead of viewing obstacles as reasons to give up, view them as tests. A higher power (God, fate, the creative force of the universe) has put them in your path to determine if you're worthy of success. Welcome them, solve them, and move on.

This approach of interpreting something in a different way is called 'reframing' and it's what keeps the tough going when the going gets tough.

Here's a more advanced reframing technique, one that will do wonders for your mental strength and propel you towards success:

View every problem as an opportunity. This needs some thought, but gives huge rewards.
Let's say you've been made redundant. The job you loved, the hopes you invested in this company, the income you depended on are all gone.

It will takes mental strength to reframe this loss as something positive. Try it! You will feel better, and you'll emerge from this situation not as a loser but as a winner.

What opportunities are hidden in this bad situation? Make a list, and be creative about it, including small and practical ideas as well as drastic and daring possibilities. Start with "I can" or if it feels more comfortable to you, "I could..."

In the case of the person who lost their job, the opportunities list could look like this:

- I can spend more time at home with my children until I get another job.
- I can carry out the repairs around the house my wife has been asking me for.
- I can finally finish the novel I've been working on for the past ten years.
- I can look for a better-paid job.
- I can explore a different career direction.
- I can take the plunge and become a self-employed entrepreneur, something I've long wanted to do but didn't because I lacked the courage to leave my job.
- I can fulfil my dream to live and work abroad.

Here's a third reframing technique for when things go wrong: You never fail—instead, you learn valuable lessons that will help you towards success.

Here are some examples.
"I failed."
"I haven't succeeded yet."
"I'm a failure."
"I'm still working on my success."
"I screwed this up."
"I've learnt a valuable lesson how not to do this."
"I'm wasn't good enough for this assignment."
"Now I know what skills I need for this type of assignment."
"I'm an idiot. I let those people scam me."
"I'm smart. I've learnt how scammers operate. In future, I'll see through this kind of trick."
"I've lost everything."
"I'm ready to start again from zero."

Action Point
Think of your current goal— something set out to achieve today, or your New Year's resolution, or perhaps the lifetime ambition you're working towards. What obstacles have you encountered so far? Writing them down as a list, with the heading 'Obstacles To Overcome' will help you see them for what they are, and empower you to feel in control.

Progress Assignment
Has something bad happened to you recently, a shock you're still still reeling from?
Write a list of at least ten opportunities that might arise from this blow. Be aware that you may encounter mental resistance, that inner voice telling you that what happened is so bad nothing good can come out of it. This is a test for your mental strength. Can you do it? If yes, you'll emerge from this assignment much, much stronger.

Whenever you encounter obstacles and setbacks, reframe them. View problems as opportunities, failures as successes yet to come, and mistakes as valuable lessons learnt.
With practice, you will become good at this, and it will give you the kind of mental strength that helps you win through when the going gets tough.

Comments, Experiences, Questions?

Do you have example of how you reframed a problem as an opportunity? Would you like to share a tip how to develop grit? Share them in the comments section.


Rayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), 13 British Horror Stories, Six Scary Tales Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5(creepy horror stories), Thirty Scary Tales, Six Historical Tales Vol. 1 and 2 (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), The Colour of Dishonour: Stories from the Storm Dancer World, Writing Fight Scenes, The World-Loss Diet, Writing About Villains, Writing About Magic, Writing Dark Stories, and Writing Scary Scenes (practical guides for authors).

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  1. Thanks for featuring my post, Mark. I wonder if your followers have questions, or would like to contribute suggestions or experiences?

  2. As an anxiety sufferer these are principals I've used for quite some years now, they apply equally there. Taking negativity and turning it into positive thoughts works very well.

    1. It's interesting that you're using reframing to deal with anxiety. I think reframing - especially taking something negative and turning it into something positive - is a valuable skill.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Rayne.

    Though I don't always make the right call, I'm glad I did in 2010 when I lost my job and then my savings, getting evicted from my apartment. Though it was an anguished time, I thought "Hey, there's nothing more keeping me in San Diego, let's hit the road and go on an adventure!" (Like The Hobbit, I was probably subconsciously thinking.) I got the adventure of my life, my Creator took care of me every step of the way, and now I'm comfortably settled in Providence, RI, happily typing for the state.

    1. Hi Doug,
      That was a brave stance to take, and an empowering one. When something we have become accustomed to is taken away from us, it's always a chance to embark on a new venture we would not otherwise have dared. Few people take that mental leap (they prefer to mourn what they've lost instead, and do nothing) but you did, and it was worth it. Congratulations!

  4. It's very important to have a positive attitude to things, including negative things, and all you wrote, Rayne, are very encouraging indeed!

    As for Mark, I read most of your Sinister Stitches (I'm around 89%), and I really enjoy your stories. I want to finish it off completely before adding a proper review. :-)

  5. Having a positive attitude to negative things is empowering. Not everyone realises that it can be done. Some are too stuck in their ways to try, or think that it would be a falsehood, or impossible. But it's possible, and liberating and energising. I wish more people would give it a go.

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