Faced with adversity, it’s easy to conclude that life’s against you. The natural tendency is to focus on your pain and the downsides, completely overlooking any positive aspects of the situation. You can get discouraged and lose sight of your options.
Your beliefs and attitudes dramatically affect what you do and what happens next. When you’re pessimistic, you anticipate and dwell on the worst-case scenario. You create a movie in your mind of the result you don’t want and fret about it over and over. But focusing on your worst fears won’t give you ideas for solutions.
Stopping this vicious cycle doesn’t mean putting on rose-colored glasses and pretending that everything is right with the world. It means recognizing that every situation has both positives and negatives. With optimism, you see both aspects, and you decide to study the possibilities and opportunities along with the problems and limitations.
Whenever adversity strikes, I remember the image of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in his 1981 "Showdown" fight with undefeated Thomas Hearns. I remember seeing a dazed Leonard on his knees after being knocked down. He was hurt, and the aggressive Hearns had clearly won the first five rounds. I wondered if Leonard would get up. The fight seemed like a lost cause.
At that moment, Leonard popped up and resumed the fight with new energy. He kept fighting, and amazingly, he eventually won the fight. He knew he'd been hurt, but he also knew he still had a lot left for the match.
I've never forgotten how Sugar Ray Leonard reacted to almost certain defeat. It taught me an important lesson. The attitude you bring to a situation strongly influences its outcome. If you’re convinced things will turn out badly, you probably won’t take steps to achieve the best result.
Instead, open your mind to the positives as well as the negatives, and your worldview will be more complete. If you acknowledge what you have going for you, you can use those resources to move forward.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .