We live in this highly connected world and a huge aspect of this connectivity is the ability to see the lives of our peers. Sometimes it might seem everyone around us is living their best life and enjoying tons of success. But we need to remember that this is all only a snapshot of reality. It’s easy to see people’s posts on social media and imagine they have it all figure out. Their perceived success can be intoxicating and may lead us to thinking there is something wrong with our own journey. But the reality is things go wrong for everyone and I’m here to tell you that you’re doing great.
Perfect Success Isn’t Real
At some point in our life, no matter who we are, things will go wrong. It’s just a fact of life. Despite our best intentions, the natural state of the universe is entropy and Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) always rears its ugly head. Maybe you’re suffering from heartbreak, you’ve made a big mistake of some sort, or you’re health isn’t doing so well. These things are part of life, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean they’re the easiest things to deal with. One of the biggest things that often goes wrong in people’s lives is getting off track with plans and feeling unsuccessful. When our goals and dreams seem so far off or so difficult to reach, we can feel like total failures.
But here’s the thing…all seemingly successful people have failed. In fact, I know if you ask anyone you perceive to be successful about what it took to arrive to that success, they’d mention having failed in some way or another at some point. If anyone tells you they’ve never failed, they are lying. That is the simple reality because there is no perfect success. It simply does not exist. The one thing successful people have learned to do is get over it. They don’t sit and wallow in their failure because there is no point. Yes, it hurts to fail. Yet the only thing to do in the midst of failure is to keep focusing on success. We all have to pick ourselves up and keep going.
The Illusion of Success
Getting good grades in elementary, junior high, and high school is hammered into our heads as children. Doing extracurricular activities to make yourself appear more rounded is another thing highly encouraged when we are younger. Then as an adult we are expected to go to college, maybe continue on to graduate school, and then find a well paying job. If we do all of these things then that should lead to a stable home, possessions, and a good life.
Many of us have this idea in our head of how success happens. It likely involves doing everything we’ve been taught we should do in order to accomplish the success society says we should desire. But here’s the thing…there is no set in stone definition of success. There is no real standard for success. Whether or not we are successful can be viewed from two perspectives: our own and that of others. Therefore, success is highly subjective and the only perspective that should really matter in regard to our own success is our own opinion. I think one of the biggest mistakes most of us make is to allow our success to be quantified in terms of money because this is how society measures success. But money does not mean we are successful. You can have a million dollars and still not feel successful. This means success is directly tied to happiness and happiness should be the true measure of success.
Let’s try to avoid measuring our success in terms of money while also not letting others define our success for us.
When Things Go Wrong
While we are busy prancing through life on our journey towards whatever success we hope to achieve, we will encounter obstacles. This is an inevitability and often hinders us from achieving our potential. When things go wrong, it seems many of us freeze up. We expect things to always run smoothly but sooner or later something happens to shake up our life. When things finally do go wrong it can be tremendously difficult to handle and we often panic. Some of us overcompensate, withdraw into ourselves, or simply give up and continue on a never ending cycle. We might feel shock, anxious, and dejected. In turn, these feelings lead us to fear which further hinders us from accomplishing our goals. As human beings, we expect and hope for things to go as we plan them. We are quite the inflexible species when it comes to our own personal plans and this is detrimental to our well being overall.
It’s Important for Things to Go Wrong
There is this old adage which states we would never appreciate sunny days without the rainy days. There is quite a bit of truth in this statement. If every day of our life was perfect and sunny then it would seem normal and we probably would not appreciate beautiful days as much. The fact that rain does happen causes us to appreciate sunny days all the more. The same can be said for our lives in general. The fact of the matter is things will definitely go wrong. If you are alive then you can expect bad news or a downward turn of events. It’s just how it goes. But we can always count on things getting better and look forward to more of those sunny days.
These bad times not only help us see how amazing the good times in our life are, they also help us grow. When things go wrong, we learn from them and as a result we grow as human beings. Even if there is no inspirational life lesson in our spout of misfortune, we still grow from it because we recognize another bad instance that we survived. I made it this time so I can make it next time too. As we we get older, we are able to handle a variety of situations much better than our younger selves. I think this might be called wisdom and the only way to gain it is through experience…especially the times when things go wrong.
Stop Worrying So Much
In life there are a vast number of things within our control and even more which we cannot control. We often want things to go perfectly, so much so, it can lead to feeling extreme amounts of stress and worry. But when it come down to it, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to stop worrying so much about the things we cannot control. As I sit here and write this, I feel a bit silly since I am a huge worrier but the truth is we all need to stop worrying so much. If we constantly stress ourselves to achieve arbitrary parameters for success then we will never enjoy the success we have accomplished. These days, it seems there are a million different influences on our perspectives of our own lives and most of them stem from social media. The worry we may feel from trying to prove ourselves or live up to the happiness everyone around us expects can be overwhelming.
No one wants to feel inadequate and, today, it’s easy to fall into that unhappy trap. Just bear in mind you do not need to compare yourself to anyone else. There is no set standard for success and most of us are doing great with what we have.
When Things Go Wrong, Don’t Do This
Beat Yourself Up
In the moment, it can feel like whatever went wrong is the worst thing in the world and this can lead us down a path of figuring out what exactly caused the situation. Often, we begin to beat ourselves up by placing blame on ourselves and feeling completely inadequate. I am one of the worst perpetrators when it comes to being way to hard on myself. If something goes wrong, I feel like it often has repercussions for other people and then I feel bad that it is happening to begin with. I end up blaming myself and going into a deep dark hole. It’s important to be fair to yourself and I am not very good at it. It’s something I need to work on and it is something we all need to avoid doing when things go wrong.
It’s easy to fall into the blame game when things go wrong but, when it comes down to it, blame doesn’t help anyone and it won’t make your reality any better. All blame does is create a more isolated environment for yourself…and not in a good way. Using others as the scapegoat for the failure or set back in your own situation isn’t fair. Let’s try to avoid the gut reaction to place the onus on others.
Give Into Regret
Our almost immediate reaction to things going wrong is usually regret. We wish we had done something different and we regret the actions we did take. There is absolutely nothing wrong with evaluating the situation and determining what we can do differently to produce better results. However, if we allow that evaluation to turn to regret then it will often lead to other feelings that will hold us back. You may begin to have feelings of guilt and inadequacy which in turn can lead to crippling effects. It’s best to not allow regret to take your reins.
Lose Your Temper
In most situations, losing our temper is not going to make anything better. It doesn’t even make us feel better as we often say or do things we regret and have to deal with the fall out later. When something goes wrong and we lose our temper, we are just making things worst for ourselves. Our blood pressure increases which only adds to the stress we feel and everyone around us is affected too. So, keep your temper in check.
Dwell on the Issue
The past is in the past as they say so dwelling on it only keeps it alive. That means the negative affects of whatever you’re going through can be prolonged since you won’t let them go. At this very moment, I am dwelling on a negative situation and I feel extremely emotionally drained as a result. It’s important to let these things go and move on with your life. Don’t let bad things act as an anchor and hold you to a bad time in your life. I need to start doing that right now.
When Things Go Wrong, Do This Instead
Be a Realistic Optimist
Being an optimist can totally change your outlook on life but blind optimism is the same as being delusional. Try to be have a realistic perspective on your situation. What does that mean? Well, it means having a positive attitude towards what you’re going through without being so optimistic that you don’t see the situation for what it really is at the moment. The first step is accepting what has happened, no matter what. If you accept it verses resisting and judging then you put yourself into a state of non-resistance inside. This allows you to stay calm and come up with solutions to your problem. Having a perspective based on reality means you can tackle the issues in a realistic way and won’t feel so overwhelmed.
While we don’t want to lose our temper with ourselves or others, it is still really important to express ourselves in times of trouble. When things go wrong we can feel absolutely overwhelmed and this can feel explosive. It may be important to express yourself in these situations and that can happen in a myriad of ways. Maybe you keep a journal and need to write it down. Even if you don’t you can still write it down then throw it away afterward. This can be very therapeutic. The easiest thing to do is find someone who is willing to listen and talk about the things you’re feeling. Let it all out.
Ask for Advice
We do not live in a vacuum and it’s easy to think we need to solve all our problems on our own. But this is simply not the case. There are millions of people on this Earth with a millions of different experiences we can all learn from. If you find yourself in a pickle, it’s important to seek out advice from people who’ve had similar experiences. They made it through and likely have some idea of what you might be experiencing. Even if they haven’t had a similar experience, they’ve been through something bad at some point and understanding that can make a huge difference in our lives…especially through the bad times.
Give Yourself Space
Sometimes the best thing you can do is give yourself space when things go wrong. Take the time to focus on yourself and don’t feel bad about it at all. Your friends might offer to spend some time with you because they want to make you feel better but if you’re not ready then just say you need to be alone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with secluding yourself for a bit in order to pull yourself back together.
Giving up is one of the easiest things to do and something we tend to regret the most. Don’t fall into the trap of not caring anymore. It won’t make things better. Be persistent in your resolve to be successful, happy, and make things get better. Recognize that things don’t always go as we plan but almost always pan out the way they should. Losing motivation is a natural reaction when things go wrong but despite it all it’s important to keep on swimming.
Remember the sunny days
Sunny days are what we often live for but, as I’ve already stated, if every day were sunny then we would appreciate them far less. When things go wrong, those sunny days can help us keep going. Just remember that failure is often the precursor to success. If things are going wrong in your life, it does not mean the negative atmosphere is your permanent state. Everything will eventually work our and get better. You just have to keep a positive attitude through it.
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