What My Mentors Told Me About Navigating Difficult Situations

Between the news, social media and just the people that we come in contact with each day, there can often be an overwhelming aura of negativity surrounding us.

Let’s face it. A recession is upon us, and times are tough. With interest rates, gas prices and political uncertainty on the rise, it’s no wonder people are worried. When there seems to be no end in sight, it can be disconcerting to find solutions.

Between the news media, social media and just the people that we come in contact with each day, there can often be an overwhelming aura of negativity surrounding us. It’s hard not to be affected by it.

So what can you do to keep a positive outlook and navigate through difficult situations? Here is some of the best advice my mentors have given me to get unstuck and move forward, whether in my professional life or personal life.

Shift your Perspective

First, as Wayne Dyer said, “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” Shifting our perspective will help us get out of the story we have created around the difficult situation so that the facts can present themselves more clearly. When we stop believing disempowered stories that keep us in victim mode, we can see that even difficult situations present us with opportunities. Asking the question, “How can I see this differently?” will help create a pattern interrupt and enable you to move towards potential solutions.

Find the Gift

Second, no one ever looked back on a situation from 5 or 10 years earlier and thought, “Wow, I’m SO GLAD I worried as much as I did about that!” Think about it—does worry ever make a situation better? I have never found worrying to improve things in the moment, nor after the fact. Have you? Not only is worrying about things pointless, but it will also only increase the negativity around the situation and make it harder for you to find solutions. Instead of getting stuck in a worry loop, ask yourself, “Where is the gift in this for me?”

Turn I Can’t into How Can I?

Third, when we are faced with challenges, we often revert to finding reasons why we can’t do something. I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money, I can’t find the resources, I can’t figure out what to do… these are often the excuses we rely on to explain ourselves, but really the words “I can’t” should be stricken from our vocabularies. Instead, if we turn “I can’t” into the question, “How can I?” we trigger our brains to get resourceful and find a way. This change in mindset will not only make you a better business leader, but it will also change your life.

Discomfort Means Growth

Fourth, one of my mentors once told me that “a company without projects is a company that dies.” Even during difficult times, taking a step back is important to see the bigger picture and the long-term outlook. What projects will help us get through tough times and set the stage for future growth? If nothing else, COVID showed us that when we are able to pivot quickly, we can adapt and continue to thrive; it is when we resist change and refuse to adjust that we keep ourselves stuck. It’s important to remember that growth is never easy or comfortable. In fact, it is only when we get outside of our current comfort zones that we are able to grow.

Expressing Gratitude

Fifth, it may sound hokey, but focusing on gratitude can be a game changer when times are tough. What we focus on expands, so by focusing on what we are grateful for, we are essentially saying we want more of that. Finding 10 things you are grateful for each day will help make what seems insurmountable a little smaller in size. 

This Too Shall Pass

Last, nothing in the world is permanent. In fact, the only thing that is constant in life is change! It goes without saying that when difficult situations seem overwhelming, it can bring comfort to remember that this too shall pass because even the most painful experiences in life don’t last forever.


Liz Lemarchand is the Chief Operating Officer of MediaDev, a global IT marketing firm. She has 20 years of marketing experience and provides strategic counsel to software vendors both large and small.