How to reframe your personal story from failure to success
“This isn’t working out for us.”
And with that sentence, I was out of a job.
It’s a kinder, gentler way of saying, “You’re fired.”
Maybe it softens the blow, maybe it helps to ease the transition from earning an income to a potential void of currency, or maybe it just makes the other person feel better because in their heart they don’t want to be harsh. I can appreciate that.
Either way, for me, that moment sucked. For many people, that feeling sticks.
I was lucky.
In the moments after that statement, I realized that I had a new perspective on my abilities and my resiliency.
It’s because of these realizations that come from the shock of losing a job, that some people believe that everyone should experience being fired at least once in their career.
Rather than feeling sorry for myself, I immediately took action reaching out to contacts and recruiters to make connections and get referrals.
I also dug in deep on a personal level and kicked up the marketing for my personal business.
Those who have known me for a long time will recognize that this is a massive shift for me.
I used to play the victim a lot. I felt bad for myself when things didn’t go my way; I felt bad for others when things went my way and not theirs; and I felt bad in general – I had a victim mentality that said “life happens to me” instead of “I happen to life.”
I’d look for ways to scramble back to old relationships that were clearly unhealthy, but they were encased in a comfort zone of “this is what I know.” There were familiar and therefore comfortable.
Thankfully for me, the other person tended to recognize the lack of health and stood firm on their decision. I was forced to move forward in spite of myself.
And since the direction was imposed on my outside of my perceived choice, I wasn’t happy with it.
Seeing a pattern yet?
Maybe this confession resonates with you and your experiences.
How often do you define your path forward based on your past?
Do you perceive the closing of one door to leave you alone and without resources to move forward, whether it’s in business, relationships or a personal challenge?
REVELATION: THE PAST DOES NOT NEED TO DEFINE THE FUTURE
Change is almost never easy. (Notice that I didn’t fall for the trite version, “Change is never easy.” That’s a logical fallacy of over-generalization that is easy to fall victim to. It’s a trap that I help many clients get out of when the fall for the similar message, “Nothing ever goes right for me.”)
I have to thank the mentors who have helped me to move past the old, victim-minded me and into the achievement-minded self I am currently.
That path was a challenge for all of us as I kept feeling the pull of the past, the familiar and the inherent perceived safety therein.
Looking back on those years of growth and change, I realize now that I’ve been granted a gift to use to help others navigate the same space. I was acutely aware of the challenges and how I moved past them.
It was hard work, and it gave me the perspective to bring strength to others for their journeys.
Here are five things that I’ve learned in my journey.
Oh, and by the way, I’m still changing and growing. It’s an ongoing process. I still need mentors to help me move forward.
As one of my teachers said to me recently, “You help those who are on the path behind you. I don’t even have it all figured out yet, but I am in a place to help you and you are in a place to help those who are coming along. Do what you can do for them as I do for you and others do for me.”
OK, back to the list.
1. Before You Do Anything, Take a Deep Breath
Assess your situation.
If you’re prone to falling into negative thinking and associating your situation with failure, become aware of those thoughts and SHUT THEM DOWN NOW.
When I teach scuba diving for PADI, one of the safety concepts we teach new divers is how to avoid making entanglement worse. While it’s a rare occurrence, it is possible for a diver to become stuck in fishing line or a net.
The steps for this situation are applicable to life in general: Stop, Breathe, Assess the Situation and Act.
Without that moment to breathe and assess, it’s easy for a new diver (or even an experienced one) to fall into the trap of reacting.
When that happens, they panic – twisting and turning in an attempt to free themselves. Unfortunately, this tends to make the problem worse by wrapping them up more securely.
2. Don’t React, Instead Choose to Respond
Reaction is emotional. They are charged with potential energy of conflict.
Responses are intellectual; they come from a place of perspective and reflection.
If you need to, walk away.
Give yourself time to calm down before taking action.
What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals in this new space?
It’s a blank slate upon which you can write your new destiny. Will it be one of failure or success?
Will you choose to stick to old thinking that left you where you are, or choose a new thoughts that will take you into new territory?
3. Remove Defeatist Negative Thinking
Instead of trapping yourself in ideas such as, “This is not what I want,” “I should have done X and this would be different,” or “I can’t go on,” give yourself a new perspective of personal power.
Choose phrasing such as “My future is mine to choose,” “I did everything in my power to the best of my ability, it’s time for me to move forward with something different,” or “This is just a bump and I am stronger than this event.”
4. Realize That You Have Resources
As I wrote earlier, it’s easy to feel disconnected when we lose a relationship or parts of our network.
But even as one or two pieces fall, step back and realize that there are others to whom you are still connected.
You are not alone.
Others have been where you are, and others will be there after you. Reach out to those whom may be able to help build your positive perspective.
Pay attention so that you can help those who reach out to you in a few months or years – because they will.
Advanced Tip: Avoid the pitfall of commiserating and playing the “Woe is me card.” It’s an easy trap to fall into.
5. Your Thoughts Can Stall You or Save You – It’s Your Choice
"The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right. Which one are you?" - Henry Ford
Our beliefs in ourselves are learned. We are not born thinking of ourselves as success or failures – we merely are alive.
Through shocking events or repetition of exposure to a message (or both) we begin to tell ourselves a story about who we are and what we deserve in life.
Some of us believe that we are undeserving and unworthy of success, love, and maybe even happiness. These ideas are embedded in our subconscious.
As silly as it seems, we reinforce these negative beliefs as our minds look for proof to reinforce the thoughts we have about ourselves. Our mind is doing what it thinks is good for us – reinforcing the story of our identity.
Unfortunately, when these stories are based in false, negative thoughts, they do not help us to reach achievement. Instead they hold us in an uncomfortable comfort zone: familiar yet uninspiring, we stay there because the world outside of that space is unknown and therefore to be feared.
These beliefs about ourselves can be changed. The program is not hard-wired into our brains.
Psychological therapy, behavioral therapy and/or hypnotherapy can all help in creating the new foundation of positive internal thoughts of success.
Obviously, I am partial to hypnotherapy, but I have experienced the other techniques too. At one time or another, they each helped me to grow and reframe my perception of my self and my personal power.
My question to you is, “How can I help you?”
If this confession resonated with you, if my past struggles are similar to ones that you are experiencing, know that I understand and have been where you are.
From that place of empathy, I can offer help to you to navigate your path forward and discover your strength.
Contact me to talk about your challenge. I offer a free 30-minute consultation.
It’s your choice to decide how to move forward.