Learning how to overcome challenges in life is such a valuable skill, and anyone can do it with these mindset shifts.
When challenges come up we feel overwhelmed and anxious, and our fight, flight, or freeze instincts kick in. Your chest feels tight, your heart races, and you just want to escape the situation.
Unfortunately the only way past a difficult situation is to go through it, so these changes in your mindset will make facing hard times a little easier.
I grew up with anxiety and used to constantly wonder why other people seemed to cope with difficult situations (and even just normal situations) so much more easily than me. I often felt like I would crumble under the slightest pressure and was on the verge of a breakdown more often than I’d like to admit.
Why was I so fragile while other people could seemingly get through anything?
Then I started my personal growth journey and learned how to shift my perspective and thinking in a way that made it possible for me to deal with life’s challenges in a much healthier way.
These mindset changes will help you develop mental resilience, so that when problems show up in life you can confidently handle them instead of feeling defeating by them.
8 Hacks for Overcoming Life Challenges
1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel How You Feel
I think we’ve all probably experienced wanting to run away from our feelings or push them down when we’re dealing with challenges in life. After all, who wants to feel anxious or overwhelmed when difficult situations come up?
Feeling afraid, sad, or angry is normal though. It’s ok to have a negative emotional response when something challenging happens. Kids often get in trouble when they’re struggling with these feelings, so as adults we think that when we feel anxious we need to shove it down and not look at it.
That’s not a healthy way to deal with these emotions though, instead we have to give ourselves permission to feel whatever comes up and then deal with it in a healthy way.
Now this doesn’t mean you just wallow in miserable emotions for days or weeks, but that you acknowledge and honor your feelings. It’s ok to feel bad when things are hard. It’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to be frustrated.
Here’s a little script I tell myself when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed about something:
“It’s ok that I feel ____, this is a tough situation and anyone would feel this way under these circumstances. Even though I feel this way I still love, accept, and forgive myself. Eventually this will work out and I’ll be ok.”
Feel the emotions and give yourself compassion. Imagine that your inner child is feeling this way, how would you talk to them? Give that part of you a mental hug.
After you give yourself some validation and love, find a way to practice self-care. Do something that feels good as soon as you can.
2. Realize That You Have Power
Sometimes we feel powerless when we really aren’t. See, even if you can’t control another person or a situation, you can control your actions and reactions.
It can feel like our emotions control us, and maybe when a challenge initially comes up our first reaction is involuntary, and that’s ok. But, once you have a chance to process the problem and the emotions that come up, it’s up to you to decide what you do next.
Are you going to blame someone else and give your power away? Will you just wait around for someone else to fix it or hope it goes away? Or are you going to take charge and do whatever you can to resolve that challenge?
3. There is Always a Solution
Look for the solution to the problem. This allows you to stop feeling like a victim and start feeling like you’re being productive.
Taking action to overcome this obstacle is going to empower you, and it’s going to give you valuable life experience. Look for the lesson in this challenge, what can you learn? Realizing that you can fix a problem instead of just being stressed out by it will make you feel so much better.
On the other hand, maybe the solution is to be patient and allow the challenge you’re facing to work itself out. Sometimes you can’t fix a problem, all you can do is release the need to control the outcome.
This is especially true when we want to fix someone else’s problem. Maybe a family member or friend is going through something and we can see the solution, but they’re the only one who can take action. When you see someone struggling and they won’t accept help it’s really hard, so you just have to let it go.
When you let go you will find inner peace, and that’s really the ultimate solution to overcoming life’s challenges. If you can be ok no matter what happens, then challenges don’t have so much power over you.
4. It’s Ok to Ask for Help
The solution might be to ask for help. This can be really hard for many of us.
Some people are taught as kids that needing help is something to be ashamed of, or that we shouldn’t be a burden to other people.
As a kid my mom was always asking for help with things that I felt like she could do herself if she just used critical thinking or simply Googled it, in response I formed the belief that asking for help would just annoy people. So this made it very difficult for me to ask for help when I was struggling, and it’s still a challenge but it’s something I’m working on.
The truth is that most people are happy to help if they can, as long as you aren’t abusing their kindness. People like to feel useful and valuable, and the ones who care about us want the best for us, so of course they want to help us overcome personal challenges.
So if you can’t find the solution yourself, ask someone to aid you and be willing to return that kindness if the need ever arises.
And please ask for professional help if you are going through a mental health challenge.
5. Take a Breath
A really important thing to do when facing a challenge is to pause and take a few breaths.
We can feel so overwhelmed and fearful when unexpected things happen. The fear seems to take over you’re whole body and your mind just starts spinning into chaos. This is a natural part of the fight or flight response, but it’s not that helpful in most everyday situations. It can be so beneficial to stop and just breathe for a minute or two.
Take slow, deep breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth for a count of five each way. It helps to calm your nervous system and gives you a chance to process your emotions and organize your thoughts.
You might have to do this several times until the crisis is over, just be patient with yourself.
6. Trust Yourself to Make the Right Choice
Sometimes the fear comes from not trusting ourselves to make the right choice or find the solution. Maybe you made mistakes in the past and you’re worried that you’ll mess up again, or maybe this challenge is so big it just feels like you could never find the solution.
The thing to remember is that we’re all doing the best we can with the knowledge, experience, and tools available to us.
We don’t always have all the answers. Maybe you won’t make the perfect choice, but you’ll do the best you can at the present moment.
Fear can be very loud, but try to tune into the calm voice of your intuition. It can take some practice, but there is a part of you that knows what to do, and it’s not the part of you that’s telling you to be afraid and that you’re world is ending.
7. Take a Big Picture Perspective
It can be incredibly helpful to look at your situation from a bigger perspective. Challenges that feel so huge and insurmountable in the moment can look so much smaller and unimportant as time passes.
Ask yourself if this struggle will be such a big deal in a month or six months. Imagine you’re in the future looking back at this time, will it be as important or scary then? Or just think back to challenges you’ve overcome in the past, did you really need to be that stressed out?
Usually the answer is, “hmm, I guess I didn’t need to freak out so much, it all worked out ok in the end.”
So try to put your feelings aside for just one moment and think about how you’ll feel in the future. Maybe everything will be ok!
8. Give Yourself Credit for the Small Wins
It’s so important to give yourself credit for the small victories. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and able to handle all of the things life throws at us, but it’s impossible to have all the solutions all the time.
Instead of focusing on the problems you don’t know how to fix or the things you haven’t done, celebrate the small things. Give yourself credit for the little challenges you’ve overcome in the past.
Each one was a valuable learning experience. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the answer for this challenge right now, you’ve still gotten through hard times and you deserve credit.
Tell yourself, “I’ve overcome life challenges in the past and I’ll overcome this difficult situation too. I may not have the solution at this moment but it will come to me.”
You’ve got this!
Want to learn more about how to shift your thinking to make life better? Read how to develop a growth mindset.
How to stop overthinking might also be helpful.
Learning to change your limiting beliefs can be difficult, this free worksheet can help get you started.