Maybe you were recently laid off from your job and can’t seem to find another position. Maybe you broke up with your girlfriend of three years and you’re heartbroken and in a major funk. Or maybe you were stopped at a red light and a driver who wasn’t paying attention slammed into the back of your car and totaled it.
None of these situations are enviable, but we’ve all probably faced them at one time or another. Whether it’s one of the above scenarios or something else that’s got you down and making it difficult to get back up again, there is one quick and easy way to help yourself feel better. It’s called relativity.
How to Use Relativity to Get Back on Track
Relativity is how something is relative to another. It’s a psychological tool that helps people gain perspective and minimize feelings of self-pity. And it works really well no matter what the negative situation is that has someone struggling to recover from a tough time.
For example: let’s say you find yourself bogged down in work assignments barely having time to come up for air. Your workload is eating into your personal life and even weekends. You’re unhappy, underpaid, not getting time to rest and recover, and it’s beginning to take a toll on you. Now granted, this isn’t an ideal situation anyone wants to find themselves in. But how does this situation compare to someone living in poverty who doesn’t have a job, is homeless or can’t provide for his family? All of a sudden, your crazy busy work life doesn’t seem all that bad. All of a sudden, you’re able to feel thankful that you have a job, have money coming in and that you have a roof over your head.
The school nurse calls you and tell you to come pick up your daughter from school. She’s running a temperature of 103 degrees. You rush her to the doctor and they tell you she is has the Flu and is going to be out of commission for the next week and have to stay in bed. You now have to miss work. Your daughter has to miss school. You’re both going to fall behind, and in the process, she’s going to feel pretty miserable until she recovers. But when put in relative terms, say compared to a child fighting cancer, all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so bad.
The point of using relativity is to show you that no matter how difficult your current situation is, there’s someone who always has it much worse. What you perceive as difficult, challenging or something you’re never going to bounce back from, someone out there would trade spots with you in a second. They say the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and relativity helps us understand that and truly be thankful for all that we have.
What is it that’s got your down? Are you having trouble at work? Is a romantic relationship going south? Did you fall and break your leg? Total the car? Whatever it is that you’re facing at this current moment, and no matter how tough things seem to be, know this: someone out there has it much worse than you do.
The best way to recover from a difficult situation is to use relativity to gauge the situation. You’ll often find it’s never as bad as you think. This will instantly make you feel better. After that, it’s time to outline the steps you need to take to get back on the horse. Rather than looking at the big picture which can be overwhelming, start small. You start with baby steps and before you know it you’re taking giant leaps. But wherever you find yourself right now, use relativity to put things into perspective, make you feel better and start you down the path to your ultimate vision.
Steve Siebold is a psychological performance and mental toughness coach. He is author of the international bestseller 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class and president of Mental Toughness University.
Featured photo by Fred Mancosu