Not What You Go Through but How You Process It

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I’d like you to imagine two siblings from the same family.  Both have alcoholic parents. Both have gone through all the misery that a family captained by alcoholics contains.

In adult life, one sibling becomes an alcoholic, and the other becomes a non-drinker.  You ask them both the same question:  “Why? Why did you become and alcoholic, and why did you not?”  They both have the same answer:  “Because my parents were alcoholics, obviously!”

Here’s the powerful truth:  The defining thing about you is not the difficult circumstances that you go through, but how you process and interpret those circumstances.

Let’s say you get fired from a job.  It hurts.  You feel sad and dejected.  You feel like a failure.  So how do you interpret that experience?

You have a couple of choices.  You can decide that you’re a failure and that nothing you do will ever work out.  Or you can look at it more objectively, analyze what didn’t work and alter the formula for your next job.  Do something you’re more suited to; manage your temper better in future; choose a better boss next time.  You need to interpret your circumstances in a healthier way.

Our emotions deceive us during these times.  They encourage us to talk negatively about our circumstances, and we’re all-too-willing to buy into these lies.

  • I’m terrible at taking tests, I always fail
  • No wonder he turned me down, people never like me
  • I’m such an idiot, I always get everything wrong
  • He treats me like dirt, but sometimes I deserve it

Negative self-talk becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.

My wife was once talking with a woman who was cruelly berating herself for her physical condition.  Finally she interrupted and said, “What would you say if your daughter talked about herself like you are doing now?  What you’re saying is mean and cruel.  No one deserves to spoken to like that!”

We all fail at things in life and we all go through difficult circumstances.  But failures aren’t stop signs, they’re signs telling us to go in a different direction in the future.

What are you going through right now?  How can you interpret it in a positive way so you can learn and grow instead of wilt?

That’s a skill worth developing.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

-Michael Jordan

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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