“Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.” –James Russell Lowell, 1819 -1891.
I have often wondered where the phrase, “you can handle it” originated as a reference to managing personal problems. I have no idea if the quote above somehow contributed to the birth of that common phrase but I find it useful as one possible source.
My clients often use personal mistakes to beat themselves up; it’s sometimes destructive and always unnecessary. When we fail to achieve a desired outcome in our lives, whether it is from under preparation, overzealousness, or simple human error, the outcome can become a teacher or a torturer.
The lessons we learn in life may indeed have sharpness to them, but if handled well they can act as a means of cutting away a false reality which brought about the failure in the first place.
Mr. Lowell’s astute quote and observation helps us understand that to turn the knife on your self is itself a grave error. However, to use it to carve away irrational beliefs, as a skilled emotional artist, a transformation from disappointment into success is created. This is what learning from mistakes can be like, where loss is always temporary and being your own best life sculptor is an ongoing opportunity.
One Thing to Do: Learn the equation for The ABC’s of Self-Disturbing by Albert Ellis. Which is: A + B = C. (A is the Activating Event + B is the Belief which can be an Irrational Belief about A. A + B together = C which is the Consequence.) We can cut out the Irrational Beliefs to get a different Consequence.
Dawna Daigneault Ed.S., LPC.