Reframing lose-lose situations

Reality is objective, but how we interpret it is our subjective experience, and that governs the way we live our lives. A pattern that I've been loosening over these last few months is the pattern of interpreting reality in the way that gives me the least credit, the least benefit of the doubt. Another way to say this is that I habitually create lose-lose situations for myself. 

For instance, I offered to help my friend change her fitted sheet after she hurt her neck. However, when the time came, I was dreading doing the task. I did it anyways, but felt bad that the only reason why I was doing it was because I had committed to doing it, rather than also out of a feeling of goodwill and generosity in the moment. I then realized that I was doing "this thing" again—the reality is that I had agreed to help, and then didn't want to help. If I actually didn't help (reneged on my commitment), I definitely would have felt bad about that. But even with what did happen—that I helped only out of a sense of commitment—I felt bad. 

This is problematic because you can only start from where you're at; I can't suddenly transform into a perfect saint. And also because, in my experience, positive reinforcement works so much better than negative reinforcement at cultivating desired traits. 

I could have instead reframed this exact scenario as a win-win. If I renege on my commitment, it's because I'm attuned to my desires, and if I help only out of a sense of commitment, it's because I'm a good person and loyal friend who honors their commitments. Too often, we believe our subjective reality to be the objective reality. For this reason, being able to reframe things in a positive light is a valuable skill.


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