Losing is painful. It doesn’t matter what – work, a promotion, your health, a lover, a spouse – it’s painful. Sure, the pain is greater, the greater losing, but whenever we lose something, we feel it deeply.
A buddy of mine, a trial lawyer by trade, recently lost a big 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 can see where I made some mistakes. I am aware 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 involve some applying for grants what I could have done differently, and I wish to see how they’ll play out.”
His is an optimist’s attitude. A miracle-making attitude. One which practically guarantees success. Oh, maybe its not all time, but more often than not a course in miracles. It is well established that optimists succeed beyond their actual aptitude and talents – all due to their attitude.
Many lawyers, in his position, would 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 getting hired,” on the trial team for being inefficient, or on themselves. My friend, however, simply assessed his work, found out that which was missing, and was rarin’ to take the next trial – so he could once more, win.
All it took was a shift in perception, what Marianne Williamson* defines as “a miracle.” Or, to my way of thinking, a shift in perception (how you see the loss) lays the groundwork for magic, for something to happen that’ll be a lot better than that which was expected. By moving off the blame-game, and choosing instead to learn from the knowledge (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 struggling to let go and move on. If, on the contrary, you look at your loss – be it the increased loss of work, a spouse, a client, your savings – as temporary, something to learn from – then odds are excellent that you will be able to move onto better yet things; to a “miracle.”
The only real change is in the way you perceive the big event, the loss. And that, unlike losing itself, is completely within your control. Buck against it though we might, we can always control what we think. No, it’s definitely not easy. I find it will take considerable effort to move my thoughts off the comfort of wound-licking and self-pity to thoughts that will generate a much better future. But it’s doable.