There is an old saying that goes “Man Plans and God Laughs.” The idea behind this saying is that, no matter how much you plan something, the reality is that it’s never going to go exactly as expected. Frequently, there will be issues that go wrong, unexpected variables, and so much more. We can do our best to avoid these, but all too often we are going to find that things do not go as planned.
But while there are going to be issues outside of our control, we do have control over how we react to those issues. Because we’re not solely passive bystanders in our own lives, where things happen TO us. We are active participants that have some degree of control over things like:
- How we react to challenges that we come across. We can choose what to do next and make sure that we’re integrating the right options into our decisions.
- We have control over how we think about the outcome. There’s a tendency to see things in an all or nothing way, which of course makes it seem like any setback is a failure. But we can also choose to teach ourselves how to see things in a more nuanced way.
The latter is especially important, and something that we talk about often in our Long Island counseling services. We can choose to see something as only bad or good. Or we can take time to pick apart a scenario, and learn to find the good even when it’s difficult to do.
The truth is that there usually ARE good things out of most imperfect events.
- There are things you can learn about what to do in the future.
- There are things you can learn about yourself.
- There are gains and progress that you were able to make.
Imagine a scenario where you decided to run a full marathon. You trained and trained and trained. At about mile 10 of the 26 mile race, you are too winded and have to quit.
It’s so easy to see that as a loss. But there are so many positives that are being ignored:
- You were dedicated enough to train often.
- You stuck to your goal and ran the marathon.
- You were able to do 10 miles – no small challenge, and possibly more than you ever did before.
Within many problems that you experience in work, school, relationships, and goals, there are advancements and accomplishments that occur along the way. We can choose to ignore them and focus on the all-or-nothing realities that many people struggle with. Or we can teach ourselves to pay attention to the positive, see good from it, and learn from the experience to do even better in the future and avoid the negative thoughts that come from setbacks.
For many, changing that mindset is an important part of taking back control of our mental health.