Looking at Life Through a Rear View Mirror

“I flunked the test.”

“We lost the game.”

“He turned me down.”

“I’m devastated. Simply devastated.”

When was the last time you experienced an event that made you feel as if the world was coming to an end for you? It seemed like a big deal at the time, but time has healing powers. In fact, time can also provide much-needed perspective. I’ll bet this wasn’t the first time the world came to an end for you. You may have received a lower grade than you expected, been cut from the team, broken up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or made a complete fool of yourself in front of friends. It probably felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders. The question is, how do you feel about that incident today? It’s probably not even a blip on your radar screen.

I’m not saying these experiences aren’t important or that you overreacted at the time, but things often look different in retrospect. In fact, many of these “world-ending” events don’t even matter after five years. Chances are, knowing that would have saved you a lot of anxiety at the time. So what can we learn from this?

Things often look different in retrospect.

It’s not always the end of the world.

It’s not personal. Unfortunate events are a part of life. Remember, failing at something doesn’t make you a failure.

Common sense. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Instead, take a deep breath and put your emotion on the back burner. It’ll give your brain a voice in the matter, too.

Know what matters. Not everything in life is equal; different situations require varying levels of emphasis and importance.

Perspective. There’s a difference between disappointment and a life-changing event. Ask yourself: Will this experience matter in five years?

Perfection. There’s nothing wrong with demanding perfection of yourself, but be a realist. Even on a perfect day, there may be clouds in the sky.

Remember: your phone will die; your car will get dented; your friend will disappoint you; you won’t win every business opportunity or receive every promotion. And, while it may seem like your world is coming to an end, life marches on. It always does. I’m not saying these matters are trivial or that life is always fair. But it’s important to keep things in perspective.

One day you’re going to look back on these events and say it didn’t matter that much in the scheme of things. In fact, you may even say that it happened for a reason. If you had known that at the time, it would have made the situation a lot easier to swallow. Right? The truth is, it wasn’t really the day your world came to an end. In fact, it may have marked a whole new beginning for you.

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Image credit: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

Frank is an award-winning author. He has written five books and over 300 articles. Frank was recently named one of “America's Top 100 Thought Leaders” and nominated as one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.” Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world. Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnline was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.” Frank’s new book, Follow Your Conscience, was released November 2014. © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.

  • Leah Bickers

    I love how you said this: “There’s nothing wrong with demanding perfection of yourself, but be a realist. Even on a perfect day, there may be clouds in the sky.” So true.

    I may have just been in a car accident, dropped and busted the screen of my phone, studied my hardest and still did not quite understand/bombed a test, and have been struggling (understatement) with motivation in the last month of school.
    Did you write this post specifically to me? haha. Thank you.
    Sometimes we don’t know why things happen, but we just have to trust and rely on the Lord that it will be turned around for good.

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