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Failure, Explanatory Style.

a rose from my garden - originally snapped on instagram
out of focus, now yellow not peach - pretty though?
Perhaps you persisted all the way through the recent mastery exercise, perhaps you are committed to a journey of improvement. People most often given up because they realise it is hard, or they suffer a setback and lose heart. It can take bravery to risk failure, but if you are stretching your own capabilities and willing to learn from mistakes it is in the failures where you will find the best data.

Explanatory Style

I'm interested in the idea that we get what we focus on, an was interested when asked to do some research recently to come across the notion in psychology of what is known as 'explanatory style'. In short, you tend to hear pessimists and optimists speak in different ways about events, here is what the pessimist will say;
  • The pessimist regards the cause being something personal - they internalise it - 'its because it was me'
  • The pessimist regards the event as permanent, unchangeable - 'I am always doing that' 
  • The pessimist regards the event as pervasive, affecting everything - 'everything I touch turn to shit'
No surprises for me that the three traits above are common in people suffering from depression.

Perhaps if you notice that you are demonstrating these traits of pessimism, which I think many of us are inclined to do, it might be worth checking out your hypothesis that it is all your fault.
  • Take time in your reflections and examine the event a little more carefully, asking some deeper questions: 'What really happened?/ What went well? / At what point did it go wrong? / What didn't I know that would have changed my decisions? / Could anyone have known that at the time? / What must I do differently next time?'
Maybe even write the question and the answer down - close your eyes, re-run the event in your mind, imagine where you might have taken another option - what stopped you? What can you do about that? 

Better still, get someone who you can trust, not just because they are your 'best' friend, but someone you know will tell you what they see, get them to answer the questions with you at the same time.

Now go and fail - and remember, it ain't just you x



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