Dr. Chris Stankovich
2021-03-12

Psychology Tips to Overcome Stress, Adversity, Frustration, and Failure

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Life is great when we score the winning point, earn that “A” grade in a difficult class, or get hired for the job we always wanted.  In these moments we experience excitement, pride, and confidence, and often parlay the positive emotions to go on and achieve even greater things in the future.

But what happens when things don’t go your way?  How do you respond when dealing with stress, adversity, frustration, and failure?  Do you accept when life deals you a tough hand, or do you experience a downward spiral that negatively impacts your focus and self-esteem?  Life is wonderful when we don’t have stress and adversity to overcome, but it is how we react and respond in difficult moments that ultimately shapes who we are, and the likelihood for happiness and success that we will experience in the future.  Yes, there is a psychology related to success, and it encompasses learning how to improve upon tough life situations, and to turn “lemons into lemonade” and make the best of what you have.

Why it is important to cope successfully

One thing I know for certain in life is that every one of us will inevitably experience varying degrees of stress, adversity, frustration, and failure.  It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how much money you have in the bank.  The reality is experiencing the human condition includes tough days, unexpected bad news, and sometimes just plain old bad luck.  To the degree and extent that you psychologically prepare for those difficult moments will have a direct and positive correlation with how well you cope, and in turn the level of happiness and success that you experience.  Yes, the psychology of success is built largely upon galvanizing human resiliency arguably more than any other human quality.

If we can agree that life can be unfair and challenging, then we can also likely agree that developing stress coping skills to effectively deal with life’s tougher days makes a lot of sense.  Below are a few psychology ideas to help you maximize your human resiliency by effectively dealing with stress, adversity, frustration, and failure:

Eliminate perfectionism

Rather than employing an all or nothing mindset (meaning your effort is either ‘perfect’ or not worthy), try instead to strive for excellence.  When we work from a mindset of excellence, we accept that stress, adversity, frustration, and failure commonly occur in life, and that we learn from those experiences rather than viewing them as evidence of inadequacy.

Get in a position for success

Before you can experience success in life, you have to get in the right position.  What this means is that before a big game or performance, increase your odds for success by already having a “pre-game plan” in place to help you with confidence, focus, and composure.

Learn from adversity

When you have tough days in life (and you will), how can you learn from those experiences rather than becoming frustrated by them?  When we adopt a learning mindset only then can we successfully process tough moments and bad days and use what we learn to improve ourselves tomorrow.

can control

Often in life we allow things completely beyond our control to negatively disrupt our day (i.e. the unexpected thunderstorm).  Instead, take on a healthier world view and cull all your focus and energy and re-direct toward making the best of every life situation and experience.

Learn stress coping skills

When you experience stress, what do you do in order to cope successfully?  It is important to have a few ideas and techniques to lean on when feeling stressed out — some of these ideas might include exercising, talking with a friend, reading a book, or creating some kind of art project.  Remember, it’s not the stress itself that slows down people, rather it’s how successfully people cope with stress.

Final thoughts

Trying to avoid stress, adversity, frustration, and failure is a futile life endeavor.  Instead, a better route to go is to expect difficulties in life, but to also be prepared to successfully cope in those moments.  Developing life skills to help successfully manage life’s toughest moments is what allows people to live happy, healthy, and productive lives — reach your full human potential by learning from tough days rather than letting adversity bring you down.

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