Use Fallback Clauses to Safeguard Your Emotions in Case of Failure

It’s nice to assume that you can control everything, but you will be disappointed when you fail despite your best efforts. To prepare for imminent failure from time to time, use fallback suggestions when describing your plans.

As the advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, disclaimers are statements or phrases that confirm that you do not have complete control over your results. For example, you may say to yourself, “I will get this promotion,” but you cannot really control the outcome. You can influence this, but there are other factors as well. Instead, the phrase “I will do everything in my power to get this promotion” allows for the possibility that you will not succeed even if you try. This will help you prepare emotionally if your plans don’t come true:

This is no reason to be lazy. It is an acknowledgment that you are in control of the process, not the outcome. To say, “I will definitely get an A on this exam” is a lie. It’s out of your control. But to say, “I’m going to study my ass” is up to you.

And by focusing on what you can control, you also make a plan of action. If you’re just Pollyanna optimistic about getting that five, you might be lazy. Recognizing that all you have is learning and then boom: you know what you need to do next.

This idea is rooted in Stoicism, which, among other things, recognizes that you are not 100% in control of your life. Stoicism also teaches that our negative reactions stem from our interpretation of events, not from the event itself. For example, if you believe you are in complete control of receiving this promotion, then you will not receive it as a personal setback. However, if you acknowledge that there are forces outside your control (for example, your boss may not have room in the budget to promote someone), then you may be satisfied that you did the best you could. Fallback suggestions can be just a linguistic tool, but they can help you adjust your perception to be more in line with reality.

Stoicism Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Psychologically Strong | Bark on the wrong tree


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