Losing is painful. It doesn’t matter what - a job, a promotion, your health, a lover, a spouse - it’s painful. Sure, the pain is greater, the greater the loss, but whenever we lose something, we feel it deeply.
A friend of mine, a trial lawyer by trade, recently lost a big case. He’s not in the habit of losing trials, for him this was a most unusual experience. But what intrigued me was his attitude about it: “I can see where I made some mistakes. I know it’s hindsight and all that, but I seriously misjudged how the jurors would look at certain facts. I can’t wait for my next trial - I have some thoughts on what I could have done differently, and I want to see how they will play out.”
His is an optimist’s attitude. A miracle-making attitude. One that practically guarantees success. Oh, maybe not every time, but more often than not. It is well established that optimists succeed beyond their actual aptitude and talents - all because of their attitude.
Many lawyers, in his position, would have expended their efforts laying blame somewhere: on opposing counsel for underhanded tricks, on the Judge for being biased toward the other side, on the jurors for “not getting it,” on their trial team for being inefficient, or on themselves. My friend, however, simply assessed his work, figured out what was missing, and was rarin’ to go on the next trial - so he could once again, win.
All it took was a shift in perception, what Marianne Williamson* defines as “a miracle.” Or, to my way of thinking, a shift in perception (how you see the loss) lays the groundwork for a miracle, for something to happen that will be better than what was expected. By moving off the blame-game, and choosing instead to learn from the experience (the shift in perception), my friend put himself back on the success track.
When you look at your loss, whatever it is, as permanent and all-encompassing, then sure enough, you’ll feel devastated and unable to let go and move on. If, on the contrary, you look at your loss - be it the loss of a job, a spouse, a client, your savings - as temporary, something to learn from - then chances are excellent that you will be able to move on to even better things; to a “miracle.”
The only change is in how you perceive the event, the loss. And that, unlike the loss itself, is totally within your control. Buck against it though we may, we can always control what we think. No, it’s not necessarily easy. I find it takes considerable effort to move my thoughts off the comfort of wound-licking and self-pity to thoughts that will generate a better future. But it’s doable.
And knowing that all it takes is a shift in perception, in how you view things, makes the seemingly impossible “miraculous,” possible.
* Williamson, Marianne (2009-10-13). A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (p. 9). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.