Losing is painful. It doesn’t matter what – a job, an advertising, your health, a partner, a spouse – it’s painful. Sure, the pain is greater, the more losing, but once we lose something, we feel it deeply.
A pal of mine, a trial lawyer by trade, recently lost a huge case. He’s not in the habit of losing trials, for him this was a most unusual experience. But what intrigued me was his attitude about any of it: “I could see where I made some mistakes. I understand it’s hindsight and all that, but I seriously misjudged how the jurors would look at certain facts. I can’t watch for my next trial – I possess some applying for grants what I could have done differently, and I want to observe how they will play out.”
His is definitely an optimist’s attitude. A miracle-making attitude. One that practically guarantees success. Oh, maybe don’t assume all time acim, but more regularly than not. It’s well established that optimists succeed beyond their actual aptitude and talents – all due to their attitude.
Many lawyers, in his position, might have expended their efforts laying blame somewhere: on opposing counsel for underhanded tricks, on the Judge for being biased toward the other side, on the jurors for “not setting it up,” on the trial team for being inefficient, or on themselves. My friend, however, simply assessed his work, identified what was missing, and was rarin’ to go on the next trial – so he could once again, win.
All it took was a shift in perception, what Marianne Williamson* defines as “a miracle.” Or, to my method of thinking, a shift in perception (how you begin to see the loss) lays the groundwork for magic, for something to take place which will be better than what was expected. By moving off the blame-game, and choosing instead to learn from the ability (the shift in perception), my friend put himself back on the success track.
When you look at your loss, whatever it is, as permanent and all-encompassing, then sure enough, you’ll feel devastated and unable to let it go and move on. If, on the contrary, you appear at your loss – be it the increased loss of a job, a spouse, a consumer, your savings – as temporary, something to learn from – then chances are excellent that you will have the ability to move to better still things; to a “miracle.”
The sole change is in the manner in which you perceive the big event, the loss. And that, unlike losing itself, is wholly within your control. Buck against it though we may, we can always control what we think. No, it’s not necessarily easy. I find it takes considerable effort to move my thoughts off the comfort of wound-licking and self-pity to thoughts that may generate an improved future. But it’s doable.