Someone I know recently said to me, after a particularly frustrating turn of events in her life, “Why do these things always happen to me?”
I know the right thing to do would have been to nod my head and say something about how sorry I feel for her. But that’s not one of my strengths. Sarcasm sometimes is one of my bad habits, and it came into play at that moment.
“Why do those things always happen to you?” I replied. “Why did you have the misfortune of that trip to Europe you took last year? And how did you get stuck with the bad luck of having so many friends? And what did you do to deserve the burden of having a wonderful family?”
I could see she quickly got the point. It helped that she and I are good friends and she knows my sense of humor. It also helped when I closed with a bit of empathy.
“Of course it’s a bummer what’s been going on,” I continued, “but don’t fall into the ‘always’ trap—unless it’s about positive things in your life.”
What I meant was this. When bad things happen, you have a choice. Yes, it’s normal to feel bad about what happened. But to beat yourself up by making blanket statements about the way this event is indicative of the way your life “always” seems to go serves no purpose.
What does serve a purpose are proactive positivity exercises, for example, as I did with my friend in the story I just told, listing all the positive things in your life (such as a gratitude list, a list of accomplishments or progress.)
And while you are celebrating your gratitude, look at the glass as half full by being grateful that what happened wasn’t worse—because it almost always could have been worse.
Do you lament negative things “always” happening to you? Might you be exaggerating? Can you see how proactive positivity would be a better choice? Join the conversation with your comments…