So you hate lemonade? Here’s what to do when life gives you lemons.
You’ve tried everything to change the tides, to get life back on your side. And nothing is working.
“Why me?”, you say. “I’ve done everything right!”
I remember times when I’ve felt like this and I have learned that this type of thinking, this pessimism, only increases your chance of being disappointed the next day. And then being disappointed increases your pessimism and the cycle continues.
But how can we break out of that negative pattern? How can we get back our confidence and back to the place where we really believe we are worthy of a break and that things will change for the better tomorrow?
How we can gather our courage to face the next day when we are so sure that we will be disappointed yet again?
I hear you. I’ve been there. I’ve tried so many things to turn those thoughts around and most things I’ve tried haven’t really worked. But through the trial and error process I did manage to find a few things that worked for me, so I thought I would put them all together and share them with you and hopefully give you a few strategies for outsmarting your own lemons!
1. Remind Yourself Why You Are Awesome
Make a list of your top 10 strengths.
I know this can be difficult. I initially had trouble thinking of 10 things that I was amazing at, but once you get going it gets easier I promise. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Your strengths are often evident in the ways in which you help others. Think of the things that people compliment you on and the times people have said thank you to you – What were you doing? Why did they say it?
- Take a few minutes to think about the things you love doing – we are usually good at what we love doing because we end up spending a lot of time doing it and perfecting it.
- Think about the people you admire – our strengths are often more similar to those people we admire than we think.
- Read your resume or previous letters of reference.
- Ask your parents or friends what they think your strengths are.
- Still can’t figure it out – consider taking the Strengths Finder Test - https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Purchase/
2. Pick One And Do Something That Highlights It – Right. Now.
Read over your list of strengths, consider how much time you have available to you, pick something that showcases one or more of your strengths, and do it!
For example, if you are funny, or can do good impressions, call a friend you know thinks you are hilarious and try out a few new jokes or voices.
If you are a talented poet, write a poem for someone and send it off, or publish it on facebook for the benefit of everyone in your life.
If you are the reigning tennis champion among your friends, call up a few of them until you find someone who is brave enough to challenge you to a rematch. And then cream them.
If you are ridiculously intelligent on a particular topic, go find a blog on the subject, and write a ridiculously intelligent comment on a post. You may even catch the attention of its writer and make a new friend!
If you are the best lasagna maker in all of Vancouver, please go and make one and invite me over for dinner. I can promise you I will be ever grateful and will provide you with a solid two hours worth of compliments.
Be creative with what you choose to do. Its probably one of your strengths!
3. Brainstorm Three Alternative Solutions To Your Problems
Write down the main problems or roadblocks that you are facing in your life. Then write down the things you’ve tried already. Seriously, write them down. Writing things down helps everything.
Ok, now look at your lists and draw a giant box around the whole thing: right around the problems and the failed solutions.
Now sit back and think outside the box. Write down whatever comes to mind outside of the box of problems you have in front of you. Just seeing the separation between what you have tried that hasn’t worked and what you are thinking up will place a whole new level of optimism on the brilliant new possiblities you have just written down.
And don’t try and tell me that you’ve tried everything. No one has tried everything. Most people by the time they are frustrated have tried most things within their comfort zone. Some people have tried a few things around the edges of their comfort zone, or maybe just outside of it. But very few people have tried things that are outside of their own comfortable box. I know I’ve been guilty of this nearly every time I have felt frustrated, angry, or helpless in my situation.
There are definitely things you haven’t thought of yet. If you can’t think of any, call a friend and ask for suggestions. You may find yourself surprised at what kind of ideas you come up with!
4. Put It All Together
By this time you know why you are awesome, you’ve proved to yourself that you can still bring it in whatever area of awesome you chose to give yourself a refresher course on, and you’ve got some awesome new ideas that are sure to outsmart your basket of lemons.
I’m pretty confident that you are feeling ready to take on the world. But if you still aren’t feeling 100% invincible, this last one should do the trick.
Pull out your list of strengths and set it beside your new creative ideas on how to solve your problems. Beside each new potential solution, write down all of your personal strengths that you could use in the course of carrying it out. Try and think creatively about how you can showcase as many of your strengths as possible.
This last step will force you to visualize how great the solution will play out, instead of only seeing the negative outcome your mind had on repeat before.
Visualization is half of realisation. The other half is doing.
So now get out there and do it!
And next time life gives you lemons, forget about lemonade. Instead, why don’t you surprise life and yourself by making me a lasagna.