When we’re going through a difficult situation, it’s very easy and natural to get bogged down, to dwell on the problem, to wallow in what’s not working. Because you’re likely and understandably upset, frustrated, disappointed, hurt. And tired. Very, very tired.
And it’s important to acknowledge these feelings. It’s important to acknowledge what is true for you right now. Because that’s how we support ourselves, that’s how we practice self-care.
It’s also important to figure out what you can do about it.
In Breaking Up with Busy: Real-Life Solutions for Overscheduled Women, Yvonne Tally shares an invaluable perspective shift for navigating our problems. She suggests we FLIP our perspective. That is, we Find Light and Inspiration in the Problem. For instance, according to Tally, instead of telling yourself, “I’m afraid my relationship is ending. I feel lost and I’m questioning whether I should stay,” you tell yourself, “I’m motivated to rediscover what I want in my relationship. I’m curious about what I need.”
Shifting your perspective in this way helps you move forward, instead of remaining paralyzed by your problems. It helps you start thinking about what you need, and how you can meet those needs. It empowers you, so you don’t feel helpless and hopeless.
Sometimes this might feel awkward. Because, for instance, you do feel lost and afraid. And you can’t undo those feelings. You can’t simply shake them off. And that’s OK. Again, acknowledge these feelings and fears. Then you might even tell yourself, I’m trying out a new technique to help me find solutions that are supportive for me. I’m trying something new to help me tend to myself. To remind me that I’m in charge, and I do have choices.
I like Tally’s tip because one thing I know about myself is that my mind tends to go to a dark place easily, a place where negative thoughts roam and reign, a place that isn’t so easy to leave. Maybe you know this about yourself, too. Maybe you know that when a problem arises, you typically feel powerless. You typically feel stuck and like you have no choice but to stay shackled to this difficult situation.
In the book Tally also shares a variety of FLIP words we can use to reframe our situation. Here are some examples from the list:
- challenge –> opportunity
- fear –> motivation
- unknown –> adventure
- questioning –> curiosity
- mistakes –> learning
- disappointment –> evolution
- never –> sometimes
- blocks –> stepping stones
As she writes, “Using these Flip words distinctly changes your interpretation of a situation, which assuredly changes your outcome.”
How we talk to ourselves matters. It matters a lot. Because it dictates our actions. It dictates how we treat ourselves, and how we let others treat us. When we tell ourselves that we are helpless, we feel defeated, and we stay stuck. Of course, we might feel helpless, but that’s very different from actually being helpless.
Adjusting our perspective opens our eyes. It helps us to start exploring and getting curious and brainstorming. And it reminds us of just how powerful we really are, after all.