There are going to be times when we’re tested by life…and found wanting.
There are going to be times when we fail.
When we make the wrong call.
When we make a poor decision.
There are going to be times when we don’t handle stress well.
When we do things that actively work against our goals or contradict our values.
It’s GOING to happen. It’s not a matter of “maybe” it will happen; it WILL, sooner or later.
The question is, what do we do AFTER we stumble?
We need to remember that our lives happen in long arcs.
Yes, sometimes there are major choice points that can seem to make or break our destinies; but more often than not, our life results are the accumulation of lots and lots of little choice points.
The temptation is to get really down on ourselves for whiffing on some of those smaller choice points.
For example, I have the tendency to get absolutely vicious with myself when I make poor eating choices.
When you’re in a certain headspace, it can seem like one day of going off-diet can seem like you’ve made the decision to absolutely ruin, absolutely negate, months and years of working hard to make responsible food choices and remain dedicated to your physical fitness routine.
It’s at these moments that it is imperative we keep the long game in mind.
Yes, you might have made a choice right here and now that isn’t the most aligned with your goals and values.
But we need to remember that one choice is one choice.
Back up and look at the pattern.
Ask yourself: what can I do to make sure this choice doesn’t blossom into a PATTERN of behavior that undermines my goals and values?
Ask yourself: what can I LEARN from this particular “failure?”
Ask yourself: what factors contributed to my struggle to make a positive, congruent choice today?
Nobody LIKES to make a “poor” choice…but our supposed “poor” choices can come with lots of useful data for us.
The truth is, if we constantly made “good” choices, we’d essentially learn nothing.
We’d learn nothing about how we handle stress.
We’d learn nothing about what we need to cope more effectively.
We’d learn nothing about what we need to feel good.
The goal of all of this is always to cultivate experiences that feel good and make it easy for us to live our values.
In order to effectively do that, we need to keep our eyes and ears (and minds) open to how stress operates on us.
Making “poor” choices may not be ideal…but we don’t have to let those moments be a complete loss.
Accept your momentary “defeat.”
Refuse to get vicious with yourself.
Figure out what this momentary “defeat” has to teach you.
Then…get back up and brush yourself off.
This has just been a bad moment. It’s not your entire life, or the entirety of who you are as a person.
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