During life, there are ups and downs, with many of the downs being so difficult, it can be hard to see a way forward. In these moments, our perspective shifts, and our view on the world and our life move into a dark place.

A few years ago, something horrible happened to me and I almost lost my life. I quickly spiraled into a very dark place, and lost my job, my home, and my rose-eyed view of the world as a whole. I felt like life was just horrible, and there was no way to escape that fact.

However, the longer I stayed in that dark place, the more I wanted out. And I realized no one was coming to save me, I had to save myself. You may be wondering how is it that someone is expected to pull themselves out of such a dark hole? Well, it takes a major shift in perspective, and a push in a new direction.

If you are wondering how to do that, here are 12 effective tips.

1. Remember that your current situation is NOT your final destination.

Nothing in life is permanent, and everything is temporary. In some moments, this thought can be pretty grim, but when you apply it to a bad situation in life or a struggle or hardship, it can make it much easier to handle what is happening. And it isn’t just a mantra, it’s the truth. So remember that this chapter of your life will come to a close, and you can set the stage for a much better new one.

2. Focus on what you can control.

There are some things in life we cannot control. For example, if the company you work for shut down and laid you off, that is horrible. But, when you sit around wallowing in that, rather than focusing on finding a new job, you can become stuck in a trap of your own making.

3. Be clear on the intentions you have for the life you want.

What do you want from your life? Be clear on your intentions and goals for the future. Sit down and write out what your reality is, and what you want for it to be. Be reasonable and set realistic intentions. Now, study the difference between point A and point B, and write the steps needed to get there.

4. Take actionable steps (baby steps) to move away from your situation.

Once you have your steps written down, begin carefully, and slowly taking them. Don’t expect to change overnight and remember that when you set mini goals, each time you achieve one, you are motivating yourself even more towards the next one. And all of those baby goals accumulate into one major reward.

5. Find a why and never forget it.

What drives you and motivates you? When all motivation is gone from sheer willpower, what is your resounding WHY that keeps you going? Get clear on what this is, and then never forget it.

6. Journal.

Write notes, thoughts, goals, aspirations, and daily happenings down in a journal or notebook. As you progress, look back at old entries and compare.

7. Set meaningful affirmations.

Affirmations are wonderful. Some good ones are:

“I have the power to create the life I desire.”

“Today is full of possibility.”

“I am strong enough to overcome the challenges before me.”

Affirmations work because our brain believes what we tell it. When you focus on negatives, it shifts your perspective to perceive only the negatives. So start shifting your perspective to a new mindset through affirmations.

8. Be mindful of your thought patterns.

Our thoughts are powerful. And it’s so easy to get caught up in catastrophizing, overthinking, negative thoughts, and self-sabotaging thoughts, without even realizing it. So, be mindful of your thoughts. And when you notice a bad or unhelpful pattern, question it.

9. Express gratitude.

Studies have shown that when we are intentionally grateful, it pays off. Not only does it make us happier and push us towards a more positive mindset, practicing gratitude can greatly enrich your life overall. Write down something you are grateful for (or three things, or even more!) in your journal each day.

10. Let go of a victim mindset.

Bad things happen in life, and when they do, we can take one of two positions: a survivor or a victim. Getting caught up in a victim mindset happens to the best of us, but the longer you dwell there, the harder it will be for you to take responsibility for your life and move forward.

11. Take responsibility for your life.

Yes, things do happen that are beyond our control, but in the grand scheme of things, we are responsible for our life, for our failures, and our accomplishments. Before you can change your life for the better, you have to realize that this life is yours and yours only. You get one opportunity.

12. Remember: it’s not what happens in life, it’s how we respond that sets the stage for our life.

We cannot control everything that happens in our life, but we can control how we react to those things. As we get older, we learn to deal with hard circumstances better each time we endure these things. The first few times around, it can be hard, and it’s easy to make the wrong choices or to cope in the wrong ways. But at any time, we have the power to say, “I’m going to approach this differently because this isn’t working.”

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