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How do you look at the negative events in your life?

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

How do you look at the negative events in your life?

Scott Miker

When something bad happens, what goes through your mind?  Do you start to think about the fairness or unfairness of the situation?  Do you feel like a victim?

Many people, including me at times, have a natural pattern that involves looking for excuses and playing the victim.  It is as if we just need a little negative to suddenly dive into a pity party.

But over time I have slowly learned that this isn’t the way it has to be.  We don’t have to suddenly pile on our misery by trying to save our ego from any discomfort.  Instead we can own it and keep our thoughts positive while we work to improve our situation. 

This is much easier said then done.  It takes a lot of work and takes practice.  We have to be able to talk ourselves out of bad situations mentally before we can change the actual circumstance.   

But it always seems that the quicker way to ease discomfort is to find others to blame, play the victim, and claim the world is just unfair to us. 

The reality is the world is unfair to everyone.  Everyone has good and bad things happen to him or her.  How we respond is what is important because that is what we control. 

Right now I’m reading a book by David Goggins.  He is a Navy SEAL that has an incredible backstory about suffering and unfairness.  He has legitimate claims of being victimized.  But he doesn’t take all of that and shirk from challenges.  He uses all of that to help him push through tough situations. 

If we can all learn from Goggins, we can start to see that these negative events could have a positive underneath the surface.  Goggins talks about using those past negatives to help him through challenges.

During one difficult SEAL training exercise he says, “Time stood still as I realized for the first time that I’d always looked at my entire life, everything I’d been through, from the wrong perspective.  Yes, all the abuse I’d experienced and the negativity I had to push through challenged me to the core, but in that moment I stopped seeing myself as the victim of bad circumstance, and saw my life as the ultimate training ground instead.  My disadvantages had been callousing my mind all along and had prepared me for that moment in the pool with Psycho Pete.”

He was able to draw an important conclusion, “Until you experience hardships like abuse and bullying, failures and disappointments, your mind will remain soft and exposed.”

In other words, the hardships and negative events in our life can serve another purpose besides providing discomfort.  They can actually help build strength. 

So the next time you find yourself in an unfair situation, stop and think about Goggins and his perspective.  See if you can take the horribleness and just push through, knowing that this will ultimately toughen you up.   

It is difficult to change our mindset and most of us aren’t ever challenged in the same way as a Navy SEAL, but we all have moments when we see a negative situation and judge it as unfair.  We jump to the conclusion that life is hard for only us and we play the victim. 

But pushing through has more value and helps us improve.  If we can learn to do this then we can tackle future challenges with a new confidence, knowing that we have been worse off and made it through in the past, so we can get through this as well.