"For," Not "To"

This is happening for you, not to you.

As my many ones of readers know, I've been struggling with a lot of anxiety for the last six-to-twelve months to varying degrees of success. Embracing a "no gray days" policy was my first breakthrough, but casting a mediocre day as "good" has required some mental gymnastics that sometimes I'm just too tired to deal with.

Clearly I need more tools in my toolbelt, especially to help me with the "in the moment" stressors; which is where this quote comes in.

4 ! 2

I'm not 100% sure where I originally heard it from, but the phrase "this is happening for you, not to you" has become a bit of a mantra for me lately. It popped into my head during my morning meditation and has bolted itself onto my consciousness ever since.

I generally try to embrace the idea that the challenges we face in life are opportunities for personal growth—it's a perspective I'm working particularly hard to instill in my children—but it's not exactly a mindset that I was born and raised with.

As a former "smart kid," a growth mindset isn't something I naturally developed. Like many young nerds of my generation, you were either smart, or you weren't, and being smart meant being good at things without having to try; which, as you can imagine, creates an instinct to shy away from any potential failure.


For me, this childhood internalization that intelligence is inborne and not a product of hard work put me on a path of doing the things I was naturally good at, while avoiding the things I wasn't. I developed a rich internal world where I thought through the second-and-third order consequences of just about action I considered taking, when I finally tried something for the first time, I wouldn't feel the shame of looking (and feeling) dumb because I had thought about it for months.

That's right, baby. I turned the Stoic practice of Premeditatio Malorum into a mental health problem!. Two points for anxiety!

100 ! 10

Obviously, my thinking brain doesn't believe this anymore. Mistakes, as I like to tell my kids, are evidence that we're learning and growing. If you're not making mistakes, then you're not trying hard enough.

My own childhood anxiety, however, has proved harder to convince.

A lifetime of associating failure with the shame of being a failure is apparently a hard one to shake; which is why I'm working hard to reframe my thinking that when bad things happen, when there are negative consequences to my actions and choices, those things aren't happening to me, they are happening for me.

They are life giving me an opportunity to learn and grow.

While it hasn't lessened the sting quite yet, it has helped me be more mindful of my reaction to challenges and obstacles.

I'm not just an actor following a script, I can write my own part as I play it (and, in case you're missing the motivational part of my story, so can you).


If you like this post or one of my projects, you can buy me a coffee, or send me a note. I'd love to hear from you!


This is post 033 of #100DaysToOffload