Dear Dr. Romance:
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When one hits a setback in life what are some healthy ways to keep moving forward? How can one build a healthy mental outlook when things go wrong?
The most important and uplifting thing you can do is look for what you can learn from the problem. Richard Bach wrote "There's no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands" "Turning Poison into Medicine" has steps you can follow to turn a negative experience into self-motivation.
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One of the most powerful tools you can use to change defeat into inspiration is self-talk. We all have a running dialog in our heads, which often is negative or self-defeating. The good news is that you can choose to replace this negative monologue with something more positive. The brain tends to repeat familiar things over and over, going again and again over established neuronal pathways. Repeating a mantra, an affirmation or a choice over and over creates new pathways, which eventually become automatic. The new thoughts will run through your head like the old thoughts did, or like a popular song you've heard over and over.
If your self talk feels negative, you may be creating a self-fulfilling identity, which saps your ability to choose your responses. One thing you can do is to monitor your self-talk: what do you say to yourself about the upcoming day, about mistakes, about your luck? If these messages are negative, changing them can indeed lift your spirits and your optimism.
Know yourself: if you love silence, tend to be quiet, like quiet conversations and not big parties, this may be a genetic trait -- your hearing, and nervous system may be more sensitive than others, and this trait will not go away. You can, however, make the most of it, and learn that creating plenty of quiet in your life will make you a happier, calmer person. If, on the other hand, you’re a party animal – social, enjoying noise and excitement, you can also use that as an asset.
Positive, happy people do have an easier time in life, and bounce back from problems faster. There are things you can do in every case to increase your level of optimism, even if you can't change who you are.