100 Ways to Come out of Difficulties Stronger

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2. Run at the dog

I DON’T want to. I DON’T have it all figured out yet. I DON’T know what will happen. Do thoughts like that seem familiar? Are you familiar with that fear which wells up even though you are anticipating doing something positive?

The simplest way to overcome our fear is to do exactly what we are afraid of. Do a bungee jump, tackle duties we’ve long been putting off. Stop seeking reasons for saying no, and just say yes.

In psychology this technique is known as “run at the dog”. When we’re afraid of a furiously barking dog, all we have to do is stamp our feet and it runs away. (Careful here, this is only a metaphor.) In other words: If we can do exactly what we feel uncomfortable about, we’ll overcome that feeling of discomfort.

ANNA BRANDEJS, owner of an aesthetic dentistry and dermatology clinic, does Thai boxing. She says: “When I feel like I don’t want to train today, that’s the day I go to training, as I evidently need it.

Most people have a problem with negative (destructive) thoughts. When something seems difficult to them, they don’t want to do it for that very reason. They avoid conversations that could be unpleasant. If they feel they have a financial problem, they prefer not to face it – they don’t have a plan or an advisor, and don’t ask for a pay rise. They’re so afraid they might have cancer that they avoid going for a preventative check-up. Their negative mind tells them: “If I avoid the problem, it goes away.” However, the exact opposite is true. That’s what the negative mindset does.

“In our firm we had a lady who was afraid to stand up in front of people and speak in public. I explained that this was exactly the reason why she should do it. That’s the only way to overcome that fear,” says ALEŠ BUKSA, founder of LR Health & Beauty Systems in the Czech Republic. “The first time she did it her heart was in her mouth. However, she soon found that she managed it far better than she had imagined. The experience taught her that she had nothing to fear.”

3. Give yourself something to look forward to

Some people who are startled by something run away, but thanks to a subtle shift in emphasis they don’t see it that way. In their minds it’s not that they’re running from something, but towards something. They’re not running from danger, but towards safety. It’s a seemingly minor point, to put a positive spin on something that’s negative, but if you think that way every time something challenging comes along, those positive thoughts will soon add up.

We will be exploring this technique in detail in the next articles so I won’t spend too much time on it here, but here are two specific examples to illustrate it:

PETR BORKOVEC, co-founder of the finance and consulting company Partners, had a turning point in his way of thinking during his studies. “Back then I was earning extra money helping out on building sites. One weekend I was facing 25 hours in the bitter cold. It was really hard work dismantling the scaffolding. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But, I started to look forward to something else – what I would do with my earnings when I was done. At that moment I actually felt that I wanted to start work as soon as possible, because that way I could achieve my dream moment much earlier.”

ZDENĚK POHLREICH spoke about how in his very first restaurant he had to cook, wait tables, and keep the accounts. After all, he didn’t have enough money to take on more staff. He didn’t enjoy it, but he didn’t want to give up either. Just the opposite, he was looking forward to getting through that phase of having to pour himself, body and soul, into his business. He was looking forward to earning enough to open a second restaurant, then a third, and to the time when he would be able to back away and just keep an eye on things, exactly as he does today. But that good fortune didn’t fall from the skies. He literally had to work his way up from the ground. It was difficult, but difficulty is bearable when we give it meaning.

How can it ever be good when we “step in dog poop”?

How can our negative past help us towards a positive future?

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