Finding the Strength to Overcome Tough Times

The late minister Robert Schuller penned a book entitled “Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do”. One of the key principles I live by is “Live Fully”. Sometimes I must remind myself that living fully means accepting all of life, both the positive and the negative, the pleasant and the unpleasant. Living fully means you knowing you will experience both ends of the life spectrum: the positive, the negative, and all that comes in between. In life, inevitably, at some point, you will experience tough times. However, if handled correctly, it is through those tough unpleasant experiences that we grow stronger, wiser, and learn to appreciate the more important things in life.


Photo by: Gilson Salinas

No matter how it may appear on the outside, everyone experiences rough times in life. Sometimes more than once. What matters most is not that we all go through tough times, it’s how we handle them. An old Chinese proverbs states “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” Part of living fully includes reminding ourselves of that when we are experiencing tough times.

Here are a few suggestions that have helped me, and I hope will help you make it through those periods when the challenges of life present themselves.

You are not alone.

Although it may seem when we are going through difficult times that we are alone with our struggle, truth is, our situation is seldom unique, and there are always others who are experiencing similar or even worse situations. Again, it is not the situation that matters most, but how we handle it.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when going through tough times is trying to face the struggle alone. Having positive relationships in your life, family, friends, or any other positive associations means there is a source of support. That support can come in many forms, financial, emotional, additional resources, or information. What’s important is that we do not allow pride and ego to stop us from seeking and accepting help when needed. We must be as willing to accept help as we are to give it. The people who care about you will be more than willing to help if they can do so. You are not alone.

Guard Your Thoughts and Watch Your Words.

When going through challenging times, it is easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking. Fear creeps in, and we think and visualize all the worst-case scenarios. We think less of ourselves, doubt ourselves, and fall into states of depression. All predicated on allowing negative thinking patterns to take hold. We give those thoughts more power by speaking only about the things that we perceive as “wrong” with our lives and disregarding anything that is going right. This is one of the toughest challenges to face when going through difficult times; remaining optimistic, believing in your ability to bounce back, and overcome. As tough a challenge as it may be, it is essential. Keeping our thoughts in check, watching both our inner self-talk and how we communicate with others are important factors in getting through hard times.

Positive energy attracts, negative energy repels. Staying positive, speaking, and thinking victoriously, and no – this does not mean denying the situation- it means believing in your ability to overcome and bounce back is what will help you do just that. The negative thoughts will come, but we must cancel them and not let a pattern of negative thinking take form. This leads to one more suggestion.

Develop solution-oriented thinking.

One of the best ways to defeat negative thinking is to develop a solution-oriented mindset. The solution-oriented mindset involves directing our thinking and speaking towards seeking solutions to the challenges we face. We start thinking and speaking in terms of “how to” instead of “why is?”. For example: “why is this happening to me?”, becomes “how can I figure a way to change this?” We change the thinking pattern from victim mindset to a hero mindset. Things “happen” to both the victim and the hero. However, the victim accepts what happens with a sense of helplessness, while the hero seeks solutions to bring about change. These are both available choices. The question is in the face of adversity, which do we choose? And yes, the choice is ours to make.

It’s important to remember that we are not our circumstances. We are the experiencers of our circumstances, and we determine how that experience is going to be defined. Yes, we all go through tough times, but we do not experience them the same. How we experience them is a choice we make. If we keep in mind that we are not alone, that we can still think positively in the face of difficulty, and focus on solutions, we can overcome tough times, learn a great deal, and come out stronger in the process.

Keep the faith and fight the good fight.