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01/07/2020

James Van Den Berg - The Words We Choose

Sometimes we have little control over circumstances; the direction our lives take. Life can at times seem uncertain, unfair even, and reliant on fortune rather than merit and skill. Modern technology has not removed the uncertainties of life. In 2020 a disease has spread across the world and changed it for almost everyone.

How do we deal with the changes and circumstances outside our control? What can we do when fortune seemingly does not favour us? Do we see ourselves as victims or victors?

Information about everything that is relevant must be gathered and could help. But we seldom have complete information about everything; some things must be assumed. Sometimes making the best decision possible does not help because circumstances and context change. Many lives and businesses that seemed to be well guided by good decisions were thrown into chaos when lockdown and its unforeseeable restrictions and regulations changed things.

When success does not follow the best decisions we could make, we would do well by not dwelling on the failures. We need to accept that we can only control our decisions and that these carry some risk, that good or bad luck outside of our control sometimes determines outcomes. Poor decisions sometimes bring good results due to good luck. We need to focus on the decision-making process, consider changed circumstances, and make sure our next decision is the best possible one.

What if you recognise that you had taken the right decisions and your actions that didn't work out on one occasion due to things outside your control would have worked out most other times? By focusing on further opportunities and preparing yourself for the best possible future decisions, things will even out eventually. Such an attitude will improve your luck and put you in a position to use the luck that comes your way. You'll attract people and gain their support that could bring further opportunities. Whilst you can't change all life's circumstances, you can feel happier and deal with unwanted outcomes. You'll be ready when your luck changes. If you think you have suffered bad luck, if you have lost your business, job, or relationship due to circumstances outside of your control, and you focus on complaining about the outcome, you will be set back even further.

Are you acting a victim and wallowing in your misfortune? More than not improving things, this attitude may keep you from exploring ways to overcome problems. You start missing opportunities and focusing on failure will make you feel a helpless victim.

There is no such thing as objective reality. Every time we experience something, we interpret it for ourselves. How we phrase sentences can determine whether we have an internal or external locus of control, whether we are masters of our fates or victims of circumstances. How we frame something affects not just our thinking but our emotional state. Our emotions often determine our decisions but are often irrational and lead to the worst decisions we could make.

It may seem a small deal, but the words we select, the ones we filter out, and the ones we eventually choose to put forward, are a mirror to our thinking. The language we use becomes our mental habits. Our mental habits determine how we learn, how we grow even our luck and what we become. It's not just a question of semantics. Our speaking and thus our thinking about luck has real consequences in terms of our emotional wellbeing, our decisions, and the way we implicitly view the world and our role in it.

A victim says, "The coronavirus and the lockdown went against me. Negative things are being done to me, things are happening around me, and I am neither to blame nor in control."

A victor says: "I will find and use more opportunities; I am in control of my decisions and actions... and success will follow."

 James Van Den Berg - The Words We Choose.JPG
 James Van Den Berg - The Words We Choose.pdf


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