While most of us love to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments, it’s pretty unlikely that after a successful endeavor we go around claiming that we are the best that’s ever been. So why is this such a go-to behavior when we fail?
After a good day with the kids (one where we make it to pre-school on time, have zero toddler-shouting matches and eat dinner before eight o’clock at night – you know, it’s the little things), I am likely to smile to myself and think something along the lines of, “We had a good day!”, feeling proud to be a mom. Nothing too extreme, just happiness and gratitude.
So why does a bad day nearly drive me to tears, making me think I am a complete failure as a mother, and quite possibly a human being? Why do we accept our successes with reason and appreciation, but our failures with wild and often illogical emotion?
Training For The Positive Side Of Life
Apparently, we are cognitively geared towards the negative, although the good news is that our brains are adaptable – with a little training. It’s not easy to undo a lifetime of overreacting to the negative, but it certainly can be done. We just have to teach ourselves to approach it a little differently.
When you catch yourself thinking this is the worst day ever!, stop and give that thought a little consideration. Is it really the worst day you’ve ever had? Is there another way to look at it? Today has been really rough, but tomorrow is a new day. Today threw me a lot of curveballs, but I’m still in the game. Or even, Wow, today stunk, but here’s what I can do to work towards a good day tomorrow.
This takes practice, certainly, but with time you might find that your mind not only responds calmly and reflectively, but positively as well. Today was hard, but here’s what I did that I’m proud of. Here’s what I did that I’m not proud of, and here’s how I made it right. This is hard, and I’m scared, but I know I’m strong and brave. I can do this. Humor works wonders as well – I find that sometimes when I’m at the end of my rope, if I let myself see the humor in the situation and laugh, it diffuses the tension and slides everything right back into place.
We Are All In It Together
And perhaps, most importantly, if you find yourself thinking that you’re just not cutting it, that everyone else seems to be chugging happily down the track while you’re still stuck at the gate, remember that this is never the case. I don’t like to hear that my friends feel inadequate, or to wallow in misery with them, but I sure love to hear that I’m not the only one who takes a half hour just to get the kids out of the house.
Some of my friends are always punctual, kids or no kids, but we share other parenting foibles that we can laugh about and feel relief over. Everyone has their own strengths and weakness, their own battles to fight, whether they reveal them to others or not.
No one is the worst at something, no one is hopelessly inadequate, and everyone has wonderful strengths and assets. In fact, most of us are doing pretty good jobs, if we learn to take the time to see ourselves clearly, and put our “shortcomings” into the perspective they deserve.[Photo Credit: Cydcor Offices]