All to often when we are faced with adversity, we tend to question ourselves. It is in our nature to do this. When faced with a problem, we ask ourselves ‘why me’. Something happens with our children (that did not fit in our plan for them), we ask what did we do wrong. We can’t help but feel disappointed when things don’t go exactly according to our plans.
There is actually nothing wrong with questioning ourselves, in fact it is crucial that we do. The problem however, is the questions we ask. How often have the questions you asked provided a tangible answer? How often have your questions actually made a difference in your life… Or are your questions just verbalising your frustrations without really seeking a solution? There is nothing wrong with verbalising frustration, as long as you acknowledge that it is just that, frustration. Remember, we live in a world with other people, who have lives, priorities, problems, just like you… however different they or their problems may be. We interact with these people, and often they are integral parts of our plans. So why are we so hard on ourselves when things go awry? Simple. It is because it is easier than actually stepping back, assessing the problem, and calmly finding a solution.
The conundrum this poses however, is that we cannot do both. It is all but impossible to calmly resolve issues when we are focusing on problem instead of a solution. You simply cannot be calm and beat yourself up at the same time. In fact, more often than not, the solution is much more obvious than you may realise. If you think about your past, how often have you lost more time stressing about a problem than actually solving it? How often have you stressed about a problem for hours, when the solution ends up taking 5 minutes. So what if your plans didn’t work out? So what if your colleague didn’t pitch? So what if you are running late? Can you do something about it? NO! Get on with it, adjust, adapt, and like it or not, the worst thing that can come of it, is that you learn something. Focus on the experience and what you can get out of it, and next time it won’t be as hard to adapt. Next time, you will feel more comfortable dealing with unexpected issues. Next time, you will welcome any lessons, and deal with it happily.
Why me? Is that a relevant question? Even if by some miracle, you come across the answer, does it help at all? what exactly does that question do for you? Besides invoking self pity of course. The bottom line is that it is irrelevant as to why it happens to you, what matters is what you can do about it. What can you learn from it? How could this unthinkable, horrific thing happen to you, and only you in the entire universe? Often times it is something insignificant like a flat tyre on the way to a meeting. We tend to over dramatise, overthink, overreact and basically just panic with the slightest deviation from our immaculate plans. Is it at all necessary? More often than not, hardly at all. In fact, even if panic is justified be it real, or imaginary, it never helps the situation. Even if it’s not insignificant, it could well be life altering, mind blowing, insane, take the wind out your sails kind of problem… There could still be something to learn from it. Something to help us make our way through this minefield we call life.
The most important thing to remember is, no matter what the problem is, life goes on. Cold as that may seem, it is true. Regardless of what happens to you, you will continue with life. How, is entirely up to you.
Thomas Edison said that he didn’t fail, he just found 10000 ways that don’t work. When you can start asking yourself the right questions in the light of adversity, you begin to realise that failure is inevitable. It is impossible to succeed without failure. I know that sounds ridiculous, but think about the Olympic Games. Do you honestly believe those athletes trained for a year to get where they are? Not at all. They have been training all their lives, faced countless failures, injuries, and even often times considered quitting. And all for just 10 seconds of glory. Where we are looking for a lifetime of glory for maybe a few months work… does that make sense? We need to start accepting failure as part of the process. Part of life. Part of what makes us who we are.
We need to change our questioning process. Start shifting questions like what did I do wrong, to How can I prevent this from happening again? From why me? To what can I learn from this? From What else can go wrong, to how can I benefit from this? Basically, we need start enjoying the downs of life as much as the ups… because, after all, without the downs, how would you enjoy the ups? Without negative, how can you recognise positive? Being a chef, I like to think of life as a cake. on it’s own, flour, eggs, even cocoa tastes horrible… but mix it into the oven of life, and the end product is glorious, amazing life. And remember, other people, regardless of who they are, be it your children, parents, colleagues, friends, whatever… need to follow their journeys as well. Do not let what happens to them disappoint or hurt you… it is after all their lives. Lessons they need to learn. And even if it doesn’t fit into your plan, does not make the end result any less than perfect. Because you did not plan things the way they turn out, does not mean things aren’t absolutely perfect as they are. Accept it. Embrace it. And you will be much happier for it!