Bad Thought: Nothing changes; I might as well give up.
I see lots of clients who believe their lives defined by failure either romantically or professionally. Because things haven’t yet gone the way they’d like, they believe nothing will change and that they must somehow be to blame. They’re ready to give up, but thankfully haven’t yet done so or they wouldn’t be seeing me. I’d hate for them to give up and just decide to become helpless to change anything.
Many of us have heard of the idea of “learned helplessness,” in which people whose efforts to escape an unhappy situation have repeatedly been met with failure simply give up and tolerate the pain. We may know less about an opposing phenomenon: the idea that optimism, a positive outlook, can also be learned and developed. In his book Learned Optimism, psychologist Martin Seligman observes that optimists achieve more in life and enjoy better health. Seligman says we cultivate optimism by thinking differently about the things that go wrong in life:
Some things are simply bad luck; setbacks are temporary; and failure to achieve a goal is just one attempt of many.
If you tend to blame yourself and think of setbacks as fixed and all-determining, see if you can reverse your thinking. You’ll feel better about life and you'll start thinking, Some things are simply bad luck; setbacks are temporary; and failure to achieve a goal is just one attempt of many.
You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, and creator of the Master Your Own Mind self-hypnosis audio program and the All Day Hypnosis audio courses, available at https://www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com/digital-audio-programs
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