Life and careers can often be extremely frustrating. One thing leads to another, and often, you find yourself spiraling out of control, giving into feelings such as anger, resentment, bitterness, worry, lack of confidence, and fear.
In an effort to combat the challenges I face as a landlord, business owner, employee, and student throughout my life, I had to master this ONE skill which drastically helps me persevere through any adversity that blows up in my face:
Compartmentalization, which according to Wikipedia is:
Basically here’s my process to use compartmentalization to my benefit:
#1. Master the 3 P’s. In Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, she relied on discounting Personalization, Pervasiveness, and Permanence to recover from her husband’s sudden death. Containing the spread and stopping the downward spiral before it gets any worse is the best first step you can take.
Similarly, any issues that arise from your life and career are definitely not geared towards ruining your life specifically (personalization), nor would it spread to all areas of your life (pervasiveness). Finally, any problems you had encountered, they didn’t last forever, right (permanence)?
#2. Walk yourself off that ledge. During periods of crises, we often have a physiological response where we might experience tingling sensations, nausea, panic, anxiety, or irrational behavior. As horrible as it feels in the moment, most of those times, we have no one around us who can immediately assist.
Thus, we must develop and nurture our resistance, perseverance, and pain tolerance. What this means is that, we actively need to short-circuit our own brains to accept calmly the calamities we’re facing.
There is no way forward except through. The earlier we embrace this mentality, the better.
#3. Don’t let yourself become a victim. An immediate response to trouble is scapegoating, during which we tend to blame others and start thinking ‘woe is me’. This is an extension of our bad habit of personalization. We start wallowing in our misery. Many people actually love this. It’s their way to gain attention from others and find meaning, also to be heard.
I argue that is this the #1 reason why most people in this world have little to no net wealth. This constant habit of self-indulgent misery, complaining, and negativity will rob you of your future and ability to move forward. Instead, you’ll spin around in circles, becoming increasingly frustrated with how the “cards are stacked against you”.
#4. Force yourself to always look for the silver lining. Right after I made the career mistake of taking a counteroffer, my then-boyfriend (a big reason of why I ended up staying) suddenly dumped me, blaming me for setting expectations too high by making a career decision influenced by my love for him.
I was devastated. It was my first major heartbreak and came at the heels of a beautiful weekend where I had no idea anything was amiss. As I was on the verge of deciding to stay indoors and cry all day, I chose to move forward with my life. I had just purchased my first condo and lined up a variety Craigslist items to be picked up. I forced myself to get out of bed. Even though I cried during every pick-up appointment to the sellers’ surprise, I furnished my home that day, and started to put back the pieces of my life.
The silver lining is and always will be plentiful. At the time, I realized that I am still young, I have a future career ahead of me, I didn’t depend on him for my livelihood, that this happened sooner rather than later, and so on. Compared to too many people who suffer from horrific domestic violence, my issues pale in comparison. How can I complain when overall, my life is protected, safe, and prosperous? See how the mind justification process works? You have no choice but to hoodwink yourself with a positive spin otherwise you’ll be swallowed up by misery!
No matter what you’re going through, know that it won’t last forever. Compartmentalizing will help you separate fact from fiction. Stop your negative thoughts in their tracks! However, you’re the only one who can solve your own problems. Love yourself, invest in yourself, and look out for yourself. Start doing that today by focusing on your career, financial, physical, and mental health.
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