Have you ever asked the question “Why Me?” in some form or another? I have. I have asked myself these questions a lot of late:
Why isn’t my advisory practice growing faster?
Why is it taking so long for my house to sell?
Why can’t I lose the weight I need to?
Why am I so constantly tired?
Why are my friends so gloriously happy all the time?
Why are people so critical of what I do or don’t do?
Why didn’t I save more money for retirement?
Why am I still funding my kids’ lifestyles?
Why are others so much more successful than me?
Why is all of this happening to me and no one else?
If I phrase every issue and challenge in life with a Why, it can create unhealthy negative thinking. A Why question demands an immediate and positive answer. If an immediate and positive answer is not forth coming, we form negative thoughts. Once negative thinking sets in, there is the danger of a downward spiral:
Disappointment leads to discouragement. Discouragement leads to despondence. Despondence leads to depression. Depression leads to despair. Despair leads to destruction.
Disappointment is characterized by the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. It focuses on the why factor: “why didn’t I get what I wanted?”
If I rephrase my questions based on the What, I will develop a much healthier outlook on life. For example: rather than asking “Why isn’t my advisory practice growing faster” I can rephrase the question to ask: “What must I do to increase my utilization?” I am telling myself there is a positive outcome available driven by achievable solutions. Rather than focusing on the current negative situation and trying to explain it to my satisfaction, using the question of what, my mind searches for solutions to the challenge. This approach helps me to focus and channels my energy toward success.
Life will disappoint us. If we allow these disappointments to accumulate and become dominant in our thinking, we can quickly become discouraged.
Discouragement is characterized by a loss of confidence or enthusiasm leading to a state of dispiritedness.
After so many disappointments I begin to lose confidence in myself and what I am able to achieve. Once I begin to lose confidence in myself, my enthusiasm for life diminishes. My energy is drained and I become increasingly discouraged and demotivated.
There are so many examples of individuals who refused to allow failure to prevent them from achieving their goals. I found reported examples as outlined below. Think these through:
Bill Gates first business Traf-O-Data, failed.
Einstein didn’t start speaking until he was 4 years old.
Jim Carrey used to be homeless.
Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark.
Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school at age 10.
Richard Branson has dyslexia.
Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times.
Oprah Winfrey gave birth at age 14 and lost her child.
Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before he invented the light bulb.
Jay-Z had tremendous difficulty getting signed to a record label.
Vincent van Gough only sold 1 painting in his lifetime.
Franklin Roosevelt became partially paralyzed at age 39.
Simon Cowell had a failed record company.
Charlize Theron witnessed her mother kill her father.
Steven Spielberg was rejected from University of Southern California, twice.
Kriss Carr turned her cancer into a business of hope and healing.
To overcome discouragement, correct a wrong focus. Focus not on why did this happen to me but on what can I, must I do to overcome this challenge set before me. We must persevere in the face of opposition.
Despondence is characterized by feeling downcast, disheartened, and hopeless or a loss of courage.
If we lose hope we perish. If we reach a point where we give up and we tell ourselves there is just no hope of succeeding, already we have lost. There are times when the answer is just not evident. Weeks, even months and at times even years may pass and no answer is revealed. In times like these I must not lose hope. I only need to look to times passed, when in previous circumstances when all seemed hopeless and I became disheartened, the light did shine through, an answer was received and my hope became reality.
If you find yourself in a wilderness experience, afraid and all alone, don’t lose hope. You are only passing through.
Depression may be characterized in terms of the following attributes:
(Depression: 2nd Edition: Beck and Alford)
A specific alteration in mood: sadness, loneliness, apathy;
A negative self-concept associated with self-reproaches and self-blame;
Regressive and self-punitive wishes; desires to escape, hide or die;
Vegetative changes: anorexia, insomnia;
Change in activity level: retardation or agitation.
The state of depression is said to be the cause of so many other diseases and ailments. If you find yourself in or on your way to such a state seek professional help.
When I had open heart surgery I was warned of falling into depression. I excused the warning thinking it could never happen to me. But after a few weeks of not being able to do much on my own, being weak and fatigued, I recognized signs of me heading that way. I immediately took steps to defend myself. My best weapon was discipline. I exhorted myself over and over that if I maintained a regiment of exercise, physical therapy, and an appropriate diet my strength would recover. So regardless of what the enemy of my mind told me, I maintained a discipline which controlled my thoughts and activities driving me to success.
Depression need not be a final or permanent state. But if not challenged and dealt with professionally, it could drive you despair. Don’t allow it.
Despair is characterized by a belief that nothing will ever improve or change.
In the book Last Letters from the Shoah, a commentary entitled “The Holocaust Reflected Through Personal Experience”, it is written:
“Presumably despair was felt by all those persecuted during the Holocaust although the manner coping with it differed. Some were overtaken by despair, while others found a way to overcome their despair. Their letters revealed the force of life was more powerful than surrender to fate, and countering despair was hope even it seemed like a delusion. It seems from the letters that despair was a temporary mental state, transient, while hope breathed some spirit of life into the victims. The Talmud states: “As long as a person is alive he has hope, and when he is dead, it is only then hope is gone.” Despair stemmed from what actually happened to the person: the deportation order, the shortages, the suffering, the hunger, humiliation, the conditions of arrest and imprisonment- all of these brought the person to a state of despair. Hope is a consciousness that is imprinted in a person’s soul, an inherent spiritual force. When reading the words of the writers, it becomes ever so clear that with all the malicious plans of the Nazis, this vital force of a human was not taken into account: the murderers did not understand the power of survival of their victims. Therefore, hope was not just a response to the sense of doom and despair, but also the cause for the wondrous resistance against the enemy.”
What or who is your enemy? Identify it then defeat it. Don’t let anything or anyone destroy you.
Destruction (or destroyed) has the following characteristics: to pull down; to break up the structure of; to demolish; to ruin; to annihilate; to kill.
Many lives have been rendered useless or ineffective by life circumstances. The reasons are many. How did it happen?
I believe each of us must set firmly in place our core values. Once established we determine never to compromise. I rewrote mine recently. They are:
Faith: I will never deny my belief in, my trust of and my duty to honor God.
Family: I will always put my family first, above all others and things.
Friends: I will always support my friends to the best of my ability.
Function: What I do, my profession, my work, my daily activities, I will do with integrity.
Fun: I will enjoy life regardless of what circumstance I find myself in.
Success then is not what I have or have not achieved as defined by the worlds standards and expectations. My life success is defined by living in parallel to the values I have set. If I compromise these, that’s when I have failed.
What will be your destiny?
Our destiny will be defined by our fortitude. It is characterized by a firm courage, patient endurance of misfortune and pain, strength, power of resisting attack and courage. It includes an attitude or response of facing and dealing with rather than withdrawing from anything recognized as dangerous, difficult or painful. It commands bravery, intrepidity, valor, resolution, firmness, fearlessness, daring, enterprise, hardihood, heroism, gallantry, and dauntlessness.
Our destiny is driven by the conversation we have with ourselves. Don't ask "why is this happening to me?" Rather, reframe the question and ask "what must I do to make my life better?" Then do it and never give up.
Our destiny is to live an abundant life.