“Sell a bad past experience to yourself with a positive spin.”
Life wouldn’t be complete without a few negative experiences to rattle our cages. Many times, this negative experience can come from expecting something, and finding to your dismay that things did not go as expected. It could be something completely surprising. Whatever it is, the optimism that may have existed before the experience may be momentarily shattered and you may question why you did what you did to begin with.
But like most experiences, how we perceive them is critical. Our natural state when something bad happens is to feel bad. Rather than obsess over what went wrong, take a few moments and try to ‘sell’ yourself the same experience, but with a positive spin.
Before you can begin, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did I expect anything going in?
2. How did what happened differ from those expectations?
3. What is something I can learn from this experience?
4. How can I better manage my expectations next time?
5. Knowing what I know now, how would I react to this next time? How would I handle it differently?
6. If I could put aside my immediate emotions, how would I have handled this?
7. If I were a third party observer, what recommendations could I make to myself?
8. What about this experience bothers me the most, and why?
9. Is there anything in this experience that in 20 years will not matter, or will seem funny?
Take a moment to breathe in and out, and try to smile. After answering these questions, there should be some ‘gain’ visible. Maybe you’ve learned something new. Maybe looking back on the experience from a future perspective leads to some amusing reactions.
As a final step, ask yourself the following:
“If I knew what would have happened before it happened, how could I spin the situation so that I still go through with it?” Salespeople are excellent at selling us things we don’t need. This bad experience can be discouraging when it happens, and perhaps even more so shortly thereafter. In the long run, it may seem like nothing, or it may be a point in life that we reflect on with regret.
In the short term, this exercise is about flexing that salesperson mentality, finding the good, accepting the situation, learning, and moving on. It is a much better solution than obsessing over what happened, discouraging ourselves completely, or suffering a fracture in our confidence. In the long term, this exercise aims to remove that element of regret that may continue to haunt us, and instead give us a valuable lesson learned, or something amusing to look back on and laugh.
When you think about it, many of the experiences we have seem like the ‘worst thing in the world’ in the moment, but are almost laughable in 20 years. With this positive spin on things, you can take something good from a bad experience and ensure that you share a laugh with yourself, or a lesson learned with others later on.
In this case, you aren’t selling yourself something you don’t need, but giving yourself something you may sorely need…optimism.