“Life isn’t fair.” “Life is a crap shoot.” “Some people get all the breaks.” “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” “The secret to success is being at the right place at the right time.”
These are some of the common clichés that crop up when, despite our efforts, success eludes us. Although telling ourselves these things places the blame for our failures on external forces beyond our control and therefore makes us feel less shamed and not quite so bad about ourselves, they actually disempower us.
They strengthen the concept that one can work hard and end up with nothing to show for it, which tends to generate feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, anger and demoralization, all of which can dampen our energy, our enthusiasm, our drive and our motivation to continue trying.
Consequently, telling ourselves messages that reinforce our sense of victimhood are more counterproductive than helpful, particularly so when they contribute to our avoiding taking responsibility for our failures.
For example, if there are things we are doing that are mistakes and/or self-sabotaging, and we tell ourselves that it’s just bad luck, then we won’t look at our own thoughts and actions to see if there’s something we can correct.
Our Thoughts Create Our Reality!
Our thoughts (and the emotions and behaviors that flow from them) generate outcomes that are empowering or self-defeating. If our thoughts are focused on success, while at the same time we harbor negative thoughts of failure, of feeling like a loser, of anticipating rejection, and of expecting things to always go wrong, it is likely that these negative thoughts will neutralize our positive thoughts, sabotage our efforts, and keep us stuck in failure and disappointment.
That is why it is critical that we constantly examine our thoughts and eliminate those that are negative, pessimistic, cynical and fearful. Even a relatively inconsequential thought can generate behaviors that can defeat us. Consider this example:
We receive a voicemail out of the blue from an acquaintance we haven’t heard from in many months. The message simply asks for a call back without offering any additional information.
We decide that calling back is probably not going to be of much help to us or that the person is probably looking for a favor. So we don’t call back and we never find out what the person really wanted.
This is a mistake. We should never assume that anything that crosses our path is irrelevant to our life and our success plan. We should act on all phone calls, invitations, etc. whenever they present themselves and avoid deciding for ourselves, before we even know what they’re all about, that they are or aren’t going to be in our best interests, because this can lead to our not taking action and missing opportunities.
The ideal approach for optimizing outcomes and maximizing success is to not make judgments prematurely and to not have expectations one way or the other, but rather to investigate new situations with an unbiased mind that is open, receptive, perceptive and positive.
If we don’t do this, we’re sabotaging ourselves and contributing to the setbacks and failures we end up blaming on bad luck and outside forces beyond our control.
More From Walter Jacobson:
- The Damaging Nature Of Sarcasm and Ridicule in Relationships
- How to View Setbacks On The Road To Success
- Can Meditation Switch on Genes that Fight Disease?
- Laughter Really Might be the Best Medicine
- 10 Tips For a Longer, Happier Life
- 20 Amazing Facts About Happiness
- The Importance of Gratitude