I Wish You Bad Luck… from Time to Time
Of course, I don’t really wish you bad luck. What I do wish for you, from time to time, is the learning and growth that happens when we face that bad luck with skill and courage.
Here’s sage advice that I often include in my teachings on resilience, (next webinar series begins October 30, 2021) from John Roberts, Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court. This is not a political opinion, nor a legal opinion, but very wise psychological advice given in his commencement speech at son’s middle school graduation:
From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.
I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the important of loyalty.
Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.
I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and the failure of others is not completely deserved either.
And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failures. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship.
I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
Seeing the message in the misfortune is indeed the key to coping with bad luck resiliently.
Here an exercise to help you see those messages:
1. Allow 30 minutes to do this exercise as a written reflection. You may take more time if you wish.
2. Identify one piece of bad luck you want to work with, even one small part of a larger event.
3. Do a written reflection for each of these prompts:
a. This is what happened; these were the consequences.
b. These were the resources, practices, tools and coping strategies I used at the time.
c. These are the resources, etc. I would use now if I could do this over.
d. These were the lessons I learned, growth I experienced, positive meanings I found.
e. This is what I now appreciate because of the event.
4. When you’ve completed the entire narrative, take a moment to reflect on the experience of doing the exercise. Notice any shifts in your view of yourself or your view of the event.
5. You can set aside these reflections for a day or two, or a week or two, and notice if there are any additional shifts when you re-read them.
Resilience is more than coping; it is learning, redeeming, thriving. May you find it so.
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen, Anthem