In our ‘Conscious Questions’ series, we present you with a question that aims to accelerate your growth as an individual. By consciously asking yourself questions, that are geared towards inner exploration and problem-solving, you will get in touch with untapped creative resources, which will assuredly raise the levels of success and happiness you experience. Each and every question is uniquely designed to bring more understanding, happiness, and fulfillment into your life. In this article, we look at the question, “How can I use this to my advantage?”
Conscious Question: How Can I Use This to My Advantage?
There are few things in this life that are guaranteed. One of these guarantees, however, is that we will experience the inevitable ups-and-downs that come with the territory of living as a human being. Rarely is there a day when everything goes exactly our way, and our ability to deal with challenging circumstances greatly plays a role in determining the levels of success and happiness that we experience.
In every area of our lives (personal, relationships, career, & health) there will be times when we feel negative emotions, such as frustrated, anger, embarrassment, disappointed, or sadness. These emotions can rise, to varian degrees, in both everyday situations and more rare but life-altering incidences. For example, you may get frustrated about traffic on your morning commute, but feel devastated to hear that one of your closest friends has passed away. You may feel silly when you forget to grab milk at the grocery store, but beat yourself up for months after you make the wrong investment decision.
When negative circumstances arise, which inevitably happens, we often like to fester over the situation, verbally attack ourselves or others, and look for ways to reverse the outcome of these past events. To increase the levels of success, happiness, and fulfillment that we live with, however, we need to take a different approach towards dealing with negative situations and conditions.
Cognitive reframing is a psychological term that is used to describe the process of looking at negative people, situations, and circumstances in a different, and more life-affirming, way. When we consciously make the effort to look for the good in what we perceive to be negative events, we allow ourselves the opportunity to overcome personal problems more effectively and efficiently.
By consciously asking the question, “How can I use this to my advantage?” we are afforded the opportunity to reframe personal problems, overcome negative emotions, and grow as individuals. This will help us become more resilient when we are faced with undesirable events, while also freeing ourselves from the burdens of self-hate. By asking this question, when we are in tough spots, we will not be as quick to blame or judge others, and we will not allow our personal well-being be affected by outer circumstances.
You can use any event, regardless of how you initially perceived it, to your benefit by focusing your attention on finding the positives that can come out of it. By asking ourselves, “How can I use this to my advantage?” we can instantly shift our mindset from negative to positive. Let’s briefly look at an example:
Sam is 25 years old and just got his first job, working as a salesman, selling medical equipment to both small and large healthcare providers. He feels incredibly confident in his ability to work with people one-on-one and make sales on a smaller scale. He has no issues going into a small private practice, cultivating a relationship with the owner, and securing sales that are beneficial for both parties. On the other hand, Sam is not confident at all when he has to publicly speak to large groups of people. Unfortunately, as part of his new job, Sam will have to speak to large groups of physicians who work at large regional and national hospitals.
After 3 weeks on the job, primarily working with small practices, Sam has to give his first presentation to 30 doctors of a large hospital in Chicago. Sam’s lack of confidence shows, and while he gets through the presentation, he largely views it as a massive failure. Over the next 2 weeks, he beats himself up about his performance, thinks fearfully about presentation in the future, and considers quitting his job, even though he has grown to really like the work (besides for the speeches).
If Sam were to become aware of his internal dialogue patterns, he may notice telling himself things such as: “You’re not good enough to speak in public,” “You always screw it up,” and “You’re such an idiot.” This negative self-talk greatly prohibits his levels of happiness, success, and fulfillment. If Sam would become aware of these negative consequences caused by his internal self-talk, however, he could consciously begin to ask himself the question, “How can I use this to my advantage?”
By asking this question, Sam would come to realize that he is a work in progress and he can improve his performance through various means of personal development. He may join Toastmasters, read numerous books about communication, and/or study great public speakers, which would drastically alter his performance in a positive way. This new found interest in personal development may progress in a way that leads Sam to become the top salesperson in his entire company, and after reaching this status, he would look back upon his initial public speaking blunders with great appreciation.
Asking the question, “How can I use this to my advantage?” is a great way to overcome the inevitable difficulties that life presents us. Asking this question can help us find the positive in the most challenging times. It can help us not only get past our problems, but use them as motivation to become better individuals.
The question “How can I use this to my advantage?” makes it possible to view every setback and failure as a learning opportunity. The next time that you are struggling to overcome a personal hurdle, I hope that you will use this Conscious Question to your advantage.