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5 Things to Say When Dealing With Major Challenges

Excerpted from Think Happy by Karen Salmansohn

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Publisher

1. Sometimes you’re taken into troubled waters not to drown but to be cleansed.

Life’s challenges are a lot like washing machines. They twist us up and knock us around, but in the end we come out brighter and better.

Granted, when we’re in the midst of troubled times, we simply feel like we’re being wrung through the wringer.

I remember during one challenging time, I joked to a friend that I wanted to fire my “guardian angel” for sleeping on the job. Sure enough, as time passed, I realized it was actually me who needed the wake-up call.

Eventually I realized my emotional pain was a helper, trying to stop me from sleepwalking through life, and— CLUNK—to alert me to make needed, beneficial changes. Looking back, I can see this troubled time as a time of true cleansing.

When you’re going through troubled waters, ride those waves and keep going.

2. Rewrite your tale of woe as a tale of wow.

Rejection. Loss. Advertisity. We face all kinds of challenges. You can’t control what happens, but you can control the story you tell about it—and thereby change the effects on your future.

Your mission: Stop presenting your story as a sad one, and eventually it will stop being a sad story.

Your tools:

  1. Give the story of your challenge (your breakup, job layoff, etc.) a positive title, like “The Gift” or “The Bridge” or “The Assignment.” 

  2. When you wake up, get curious about what positive plot twists you’re about to discover in your day that will bring you The Gift or The Bridge or The Assignment. 

  3. Turn crisis pain into crisis fuel. Get extra-motivated to turn your Plan B storyline into a happily ever after. 


Remember: Often what feels like the end of the world is really a pathway to a far better place.

3. When your world gets turned upside down, view it from a new perspective.

Sometimes our world needs to be upended to allow us to better notice all our invisible blessings—the people, things, and attributes we’ve become so accustomed to having that we’ve become blind to how blessed we are.

Basically, a big shake-up in our life can help to knock us out of our repeated cycles of thinking and behaving. We switch over to a new, groovier “brain groove” track—one that brings us better ways of seeing, being, and doing.

Plus, shake-ups can force us to let go of what we’ve been holding onto too tightly (negative relationships, toxic friends, unhealthy habits, unloving beliefs), freeing us to reach for something far better. Later we can see that “bad- luck” event was really a lucky turnaround.

4. Be your own superhero.

Important reminder during tough times: Nobody’s coming to save you. You have to save yourself. You have to be your own superhero.

(Although it’s okay to be open to having a sidekick.)

You have to tap into that superpower deep inside you and know you are stronger than your challenges—and your challenges are making you stronger.

Know this now: Often life gives you challenges specifically based on what you most need practice in. Especially if you’re facing a repeated pattern of pain. In fact, life will keep sending you the same problem over and over (and over) again—until you hero-up and choose to bravely face your inner demons and learn that darn lesson!

5. It is what it is – but YOU have the power.

If you could live for ten years in total bliss—pain-free—but not remember any of it, would you?

Aristotle says, say NO. He believed true happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best self. Otherwise you experience only immediate gratification, which is fleeting and doesn’t grow you as a person.

The pain-free scenario mirrors someone doing crack
or binge-drinking. It feels like you’re avoiding pain and seeking bliss, but long-term you’re not enjoying real life. You’re numbing yourself, blocking yourself from life’s inevitable ebbs and flows—which bring empowering insights that grow you into who you are.

So how do you morph an uncomfortable is into an inspiring isn’t-so-bad? Tap into the power of silence—meditating, journaling, or going for long quiet walks. Silence is an awesome teacher. Get quiet and allow yourself to know what you need to know—to grow how you need to grow.

Reprinted from THINK HAPPY Copyright © 2016 by Karen Salmansohn. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Monica Garwood. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


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