Whose Choice is it?
"Oh my God, it's a crisis!" Or as was popularly going around the networks,
"It's Doomsday, the world is ending!"
In the regular course of our lives we take minor setbacks and disappointments in our stride, but how do we deal with a crisis?
When we are rejected by someone we love, when we don't get the job we want or through loss either personal or financial... yes, there is sadness, life looks bleak and the zest goes out of living. This so common that even the textbooks call it a "normal reaction"
The commonness of being knocked flat by misfortune, however, does not mean that life has to be this way. It depends on how we explain to ourselves, our explanatory style that makes all the difference.
Let's look at an example:
Tanya and Rahul were executives in a large retailing firm. They were fired from their jobs. Consequently they were stressed and depressed for some months. Tanya however remained a loving wife and mother; continued to meet her friends and worked out at the gym 3 times a week.
Rahul, in contrast, fell apart. He had violent arguments with his wife and completely ignored the kids. He was sullen, brooding and refused to go to parties or any social events.
Some of us can put our troubles neatly in a box and others bleed over everything and catastrophize.
Why does this happen?
People who make universal explanations for their failures give up on everything when they encounter stress in some area. People who make specific explanations may become helpless in one part of their lives yet march ahead in other ways.
People who give up easily habitually say of their misfortune, "It's going to last forever and undermine everything I do." Those who resist this view say, "This is just an event.... nothing lasts forever and there's much more to life!"
Our way of explaining an event and its effect is more than just words we say when we fail.
Our explanatory style stems from the way we see our place in the world; whether we think we are valuable and deserving or worthless and hopeless.
If we believe, like Rahul, that the cause of our trouble is permanent, like thinking we're talentless or ugly or stupid then nothing can change for us.
If we believe like Tanya, that the cause is temporary like a bad mood or too little effort, we can act to take a step forward towards getting better.
No matter what the circumstance, we must believe internally that how we respond to life is the key.
As my mentor Gordon Strokes said, "The problem is not the problem; how we feel about it is the problem."
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.