I sometimes think of life as a battlefield—albeit a metaphorical one. Can anyone deny that bloodless battles rage around us every day, often fought against familiar enemies that loom from the past? The causes of these everyday battle wounds vary: a bitter divorce, the loss of a loved one, financial problems, unemployment, health issues—and the list goes on and on. However, one thing is certain; these emotional casualties sustained on the battlefield of everyday life can be devastating to your long-term well-being.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and crushed by a negative situation, and to give up before you give yourself a significant chance to rebound. It’s at these times that you are at your most vulnerable; your emotional warning system is on red alert and you can easily enter the negative zone where it seems like the entire world is against you. That’s when the launching of fearful, destructive thoughts begins, like a salvo of rockets aimed at nothing in particular. It’s at these times especially that you must be hyperaware of both your mental and verbal output.
The shrapnel of those explosive thoughts and words inflict emotional wounds that cause you to believe that you are being victimized and cheated. This is a situation in which a “foxhole mentality” can be of value. If it comes down to you (and your inner thoughts) against the world, wouldn’t you want a companion who isn’t willing to make a quick surrender?
My life isn’t working. (Boom!)
I’ll never live my dream. (Bang!)
I’ll never find someone who will love me for who I am. (Incoming!)
I don’t have what it takes to handle this. (It was really an honor to serve alongside myself.)
My life is one big mess. (We are sorry to inform you that your confidence is dead. There was nothing we could do.)
This constant bombardment of fearful negative thoughts and words explode with tremendous force in your subconscious and cause you to see (and further create) a reality that you believe to be true. The result: You have lost the battle. You have let your defenses down and your life has been taken over by your own rogue thoughts and words, and you are vulnerable to hopelessness.
Hopelessness is dangerous because when you concede all hope, you actually seal your fate and finalize your destiny. If you find yourself stuck in hopelessness, lock your car doors and call someone you trust to come give you a jump, ASAP. Without hope, there is no room to even consider other options, let alone a miracle.
I’m not passing judgment on anyone who allows dark moments to take control of their emotions—I’ve been there myself. Certainly there are valid reasons for bad feelings to take over during difficult times, and it takes an incredible amount of fortitude to give thanks for the good things when so much is lost. However, if you expect to prevail during tough times, you must understand that it is your current perception of the situation that either gives you hope or makes you want to give it up as a lost cause. If you’re always thinking about how badly life is treating you, if you are always telling stories about how you can’t get a fair shake, you will always feel miserable.
Ever hear the old saying, “Misery loves company?” Being miserable doesn’t exactly attract good things, does it? If you want to change your life for the better, start by consciously changing what you think and what you say.
This article was published in August 2016 and has been updated. Photo by @Zelenina_muah/Twenty20
Steve Rizzo is the Attitude Adjuster. You can’t attend one of his keynote speeches and leave with the same attitude. He’s a personal development expert, comedian, motivational speaker, and best-selling author. It’s no surprise that he’s been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon on fewer than 250 speakers worldwide since 1977. You can find out more at www.steverizzo.com.