There is always in an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How you play this game usually makes the difference between success and failure. – Tim Gallwey

Facing difficult circumstances and challenges can be quite difficult for anyone. Losing a loved one, going through a difficult divorce, dealing with a trauma, and many other similar situations can leave a person feeling damaged and forever scarred. However, just because this horrific event has happened to you don’t mean that you have to remain a victim and be forever marred by it.

Don’t get me wrong, these types of events will hurt, sting, and more than likely knock you to the ground quite hard. What I am referring to is how you choose to either heal and recover, or forever remain a victim; that choice is yours!

Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania offers us some great advice on weathering through the challenges of life. He indicates “how” we describe the negative events to ourselves have a profound impact on how we cope.

He breaks our self talk into three components. Those who forever struggle and remain a victim will describe the event as personal, permanent, and pervasive. Whereas, someone who will likely recover and heal (resilient) will describe the event as situational, short-lived, and specific.

Here are a few examples:

Personal vs Situational

Victim: “If something can go wrong for me, it will.” (Personal)

Resilient: “I expect the best, and I’m prepared for everything.” (Situational)

Permanent vs Short-Lived

Victim: “After what happened tonight, I bet I will keep on being forever marred and never be happy again.” (Permanent)

Resilient: “That was a tough situation, but I will heal and recover one day at a time and at some point I will be stronger, wiser, and more resilient.” (Short-Lived)

Pervasive vs Specific

Victim: “I messed up that project at work today. Tonight’s workout is just going to take it out all out on me.” (Pervasive)

Resilient: I’ll get that project straightened out tomorrow at the office. In the meantime, my focus is on having a good workout.” (Specific)

So the next time you are faced with some trying and difficult life events, remember to place awareness upon your self talk, and be sure to arrange it as situational, short-lived, and specific. Remind yourself that the setback was an isolated event; it won’t last long and it won’t affect other parts of your life. Then see how much different you begin to feel.

I heard this great analogy the other day that perfectly fits this topic. What happens when you throw a brick at a window? The window breaks. What happens when you take a brick and add it to another? You build a house. Victims throw bricks at their dreams. Resilients use bricks of hopefulness and confidence to build their successful road to healing and recovery.

Photo Credit: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay


Chris Swenson is a licensed therapist who helps people overcome and face life’s most treacherous challenges. His office is located in Sterling, CO. For an appointment please call Chris at (970) 522-0796.