One of the hardest parts of failure is having a black mark on your personal history. People who have gone through a business failure, bankruptcy, or divorce, often express feelings of depression. Suddenly, their vision of themselves has completely changed. Instead of being the winner of their own story, they’ve become a loser. And no one wants to be a loser.
The solution: Rewrite your story.
Therapists use this with children who have experienced abuse. They are asked to reframe their history of abuse and see themselves as a survivor rather than a victim. This shift of perspective isn’t just an exercise in storytelling; it can radically change one’s view on the events in his or her life, as well as the outlook for the future.
Here’s how you can apply this to your life:
Let’s say you were let go from your dream job in the recent recession. You have had trouble finding work, and had to take a position far below your capabilities, delivering pizza at night to make ends meet. You might be thinking, “I’m such a loser, I can’t even get another job.”
Rewrite your story in a positive manner. Instead of being a loser, you’re not willing to take unemployment or be supported by family members until you get a job you consider at “your level.” You’ll do what you have to, to support yourself. Look at the characteristics you’re exhibiting: Perseverance, pride, and a strong work ethic – all far from loserhood.
Here’s another example. You planned a party and had only two people show up. You feel like a complete failure, and you’re ready to throw in the towel completely, never to have a party again.
Let’s rewrite this event: You haven’t lost anything. Instead, you’ve learned some important skills and lessons. You’ve taken a risk, and while it didn’t turn out the way you’d planned, one mistake does not a failure make. Instead of thinking it’s a message you should quit, see at as the necessary “first draft” of your story.
If it’s up to us to decide how we want to tell our stories, why not choose a positive spin on it? Claiming how you define yourself is the first step.