Just recently, I experienced a setback that will change what was and force me to adapt. Nothing permanent or terrible, but a setback, nonetheless.
The thing is, we are all faced with daily obstacles, whether they are significant, life-altering or seemingly minor.
How we react to setbacks, reveals our character.
In the past, I haven’t always responded favourably to the challenge of a curveball. I’m a girl who loves certainty, after all. Unexpected challenges can be tricky for a lot of people, myself included.
After the disbelief and shock of a setback have worn off, reality sets in. Like a cat clinging to a door frame to avoid taking a bath, I will pretty much do whatever I can to elude the repercussions and discomfort of a setback. Sure enough, I soon felt myself slipping into old habits.
Here are my favourite 4 ways to avoid difficult realities:
- I will manufacture certainty by over-organizing everything in my life. My friends have nick-named me the M-organizer…because it’s what I do. It’s my favourite coping mechanism. As I write this, I realize that I am SO guilty of doing this! I actually chose this week to take on the KonMarie Method for organizing your home and, against best-Kon-Marie-practice, delved right into the most challenging and exhausting section: paper. Super.
- I lament what might have been and live there far too long. Yup! Mentally, I found myself checking off all of the things that I’d be losing out on or missing as a result, despite my better judgement. Terrific.
- I catastrophize the future and wallow there for a bit. My brain starts doing overtime and over-projecting the new reality. Very helpful.
- Then…enter resentfulness. Instead of leading with compassion, empathy, kindness, and love (as I aim to show up most of the time), my deficiency-perspective allows fear and resentfulness to creep into my interactions. UGH!
So, as you might have guessed, this 4-step-approach doesn’t work out so well. Not only do I usually wind up feeling lousy, but so do the people around me, through association.
Consequently, this week, acknowledging my tendency for certainty-seeking and manufacturing, I found myself searching for a different tactic. I talked to some people, did some journaling, and meditated on it for a bit. I was reminded of something Dr. Maya Angelou once said: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
What I wanted was to change my attitude. How on Earth does one convincingly, authentically shift one’s perspective? The willingness to change one’s approach and outlook is important, but it takes more than simply telling yourself to change to do so with authenticity.
That’s when it struck me. Perhaps, it might be more helpful to think of it as a rebrand. It’s about telling yourself a different story. It’s about teasing out and focusing on the positives associated with a change in situation versus dwelling on the losses. Rebranding doesn’t usually alter the product for sale, it changes the story about it so that it becomes more desirable. A shift in perspective that tells a different story…that’s what I needed. Not one of loss, grief and resentful resistance, but one of strength, courage, and willful benevolence.
And so, I have begun to craft a new story. How about you?