When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us, Alexander Graham Bell.
It is up to you to decide if the glass is half full or half empty. More important than our experiences and circumstances is the subjective evaluation we make of them. The relationship between the perception of a situation and our assessment, and reality is not direct, but rather complex.
You can always make a positive reading of your personal history, even in the most difficult and challenging times. Personally, when I went through lung metastasis, I learned that life is short, messy, and that I have to make the most of it. I rediscovered the love of God, my loved ones, and some good friends. I realized that many things that used to overwhelm me were not as important as I thought they were.
Imagine that you have messed things up very badly, have experienced something negative, painful, or even traumatic in your life, or have felt the bitter taste of failure. It may be that you have failed an important exam, your boss has already lost faith in your work quality and productivity, and he or she is questioning very seriously your suitability for the job, or you’ve just said something stupid to your girlfriend’s mum, boyfriend, or your boss.
You may be tempted to blame yourself over and over and give up. Please, don’t victimize yourself, stop wallowing in self-pity and do not say things like: I do not have any hope; I am out of luck and money; There is nothing I can do; I will never achieve that bachelor’s degree or post; I will be left on the shelf forever; Whatever I do, everything remains always the same; I run out of options.
You always have a choice to shape your life around, an opportunity to change course, grow, challenge and reinvent yourself. You can improve your chances of success and achieving your goals by taking responsibility, making good choices, remaining positive, staying open-minded, changing your approach and strategy for better outcomes, learning to communicate more effectively, and working harder and more efficiently!
You need to reinterpret these failures and bad experiences as outcomes, as opportunities to learn, grow, and expand beyond your limits and confort zone. It is all about reinterpreting these outcomes with a positive attitude. Be optimistic because you can and you will achieve positive results!
Let me suggest you a reinterpretation of what has happened to you, where the permanent, personal, and global becomes transitory, impersonal, and local. I will try to be a little clearer about what I mean.
The adjective “permanent” refers to something that is stable over time. For example, “I always fail at everything,” “I am a loser”, “Why do bad things always happen to me?” “I will never be able to pass this subject,” “I will never succeed at building my business,” “I will never be in a healthy, happy relationship” or “‘I am terrible with money, and I will never be able to control my finances.”
Replace those permanent statement about yourself with: “I had a bad day and everyone has bad days, but I’m going to pass because I’m doing my best. I am studying better and more effectively,” “I have failed Maths, but I have passed Social Science, History, and English,” “I drank too much yesterday, so I talked too much and made a fool of myself in front of everyone, I will limit my alcohol intake significantly from now on.”
In other words, what is permanent and stable becomes a transitory outcome. I am not talking about empty optimism where everything is rosy, denying reality, and avoiding accepting responsibility for our mistakes. It is about realizing that “no evil can last forever,” and that by changing our mindset, choices, and actions, good outcomes will follow.
Personal statements (“I am very clumsy/silly/stupid,” “I’m a failure,” “I am not good enough for her,” “I don’t have what it takes to succeed,” “I’m a loser and there is no point in studying because it doesn’t make any difference anyway”) are turned into impersonal and external explanations (“I need to study harder and more efficiently and practice my English every day, but I was unlucky in the exam, too,” “I have failed, but I am not a failure. Learning from failures, setbacks, and rejection, and bouncing back, leads to being more resilient, personal growth, and success,” “My relationship is having tough times since my wife lost her job. I need to learn to listen more actively and show her that I am paying close attention to what she says).
Global adjectives that affect all areas of ourselves (“I always fuck everything up,” “I don’t stand a chance,” “I am a complete and utter failure,” “Why do I always screw things up?”) become specific and particular (“I failed this test because I am not as good at Maths as I would like to be, but I perform well above average most of the time,” “I am having a difficult time in the office, but my family is happy and they love me very much. We do not have any mortgages or debt, so we are living a relatively comfortable life,” “I made a fool of myself at the party, but I apologized and they accepted it. I am usually very friendly and quite outgoing.”
Why is it valuable? The reasons are many. You will be happier, have better self-esteem, and be more resilient; this style helps you achieve your goals; It gives you the desire and energy to overcome obstacles, to consider these as temporary outcomes. It will help you make better decisions and choices, and build a network of emotional support more effectively.
However, the negative explanatory style is associated with low self-esteem, irritability, depression, anxiety, stress, higher mortality rate, decreased immune system -you are more likely to get ill-, etc.