A model to avoid or overcome frustration

April 25, 2013 by Joshua
in Exercises, Freedom, Models, Tips

[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

Do you get more frustrated than you’d like? Do you give up early? Do you wish you could have more optimism? Do you wish you could be more resilient to problems and challenges?

Today’s belief is something I say almost daily. Sometimes I mutter it to myself, sometimes I say it out loud. I’ve come to behave as if it’s true even though I can’t prove it. I say it like others say “c’est la vie” or “that’s the way it goes,” only it’s more optimistic and makes me more capable of handling problems.

As I wrote in the introduction to the series, all beliefs have flaws, so whatever this one replaces is just as flawed. I’ll still justify it to help you incorporate it.

I should note that I say it only about how things affect me. When someone else has a problem, I don’t suggest it to them. With that understanding, I introduce today’s belief.

A model for reducing or overcoming frustration: Everything always works out.

As I said, I can’t prove everything always works out, but the way I see it, if I’m not dead, everything so far has worked out. No one has shown me a problem that someone somewhere hasn’t been able to overcome, and if anyone anywhere can, I think I’ll be able to.

And if something doesn’t work out and I die, then I won’t be alive to feel bad about it.

So everything always works out.

If you’re in a fight with someone or facing a problem you can’t imagine how you’ll overcome it — personal bankruptcy, debilitating injury, relationship falling apart… — it will pass and you’ll have enjoyable times again.

Years ago I’d consider the worst case scenario that I’d have to work hard for a long time to improve things if I faced a hard problem. Now that I’ve found overcoming challenges so rewarding and the source of so much valuable personal growth, including all the most valuable, I consider my once worst case scenario my best case scenario.

When you develop the skill to turn the worst things in life into the best, you can easily say

Everything always works out.

Now you might reasonably come up with cases where things don’t work out. There are people being tortured with little hope that torture will ever end in their lifetime. Some people have diseases that will cause them pain for their entire lives.

I guess in recognition of such cases I could more accurately say “Nearly everything nearly always works out,” but if you’ll indulge me, I shorten it to the superlative form and hope anyone who hears me understands I except a few out of a billion cases.

I don’t know what inspired me to think it, but it might have been this song by Bob Marley:

Or from Tracy Chapman:

I could list other covers. I probably mostly got the idea mostly from Victor Frankl anyway.

I offer this belief not to try to prove it but as a way that improves at least one person’s life.

When I use this belief

I use this belief whenever I don’t know how something will work out.

What this belief replaces

This belief replaces sayings that, to me, lead to resignation and complacency, like “c’est la vie,” “what can you do,” “that’s the way things go,” and such with optimism, calmness, and motivation.

Where this belief leads

This belief leads to calm optimism and resilience to feeling bad, enabling you to solve problems instead of helplessly succumbing to them.

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