By the time he reached my office he was still seething with rage.
He could barely contain his anger as he sat down and described the cause of it. It seems that on his way to visit me some (insert body part here) suddenly cut in front of him forcing him to slam on his brakes.
“This guy really ticked me off,” he explained, abdicating responsibility for his anger and placing it squarely on the shoulders of the other driver.
My friend, like so many of us, just doesn’t get it.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, the title of this blog, which means “after this therefore because of this” has led us to become greatly confused with regard to the distinction between causes and effect and correlation.
We do not live in a cause-and-effect world. Events that occur in our lives are not the cause of our reaction to them. The anger my friend was experiencing was not caused by his recent experience of being cut off in traffic. His anger was caused solely and exclusively by his choice in selecting anger to become part of this experience.
Certainly there is correlation between being cut off in traffic and my friend being angry but he is, in my opinion, absolutely wrong is claiming that his anger was caused by this event.
To attach truth to his claim is to infer that he is merely a helpless puppet-like victim whose emotional strings are there to be pulled at will by any passing stranger.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc. After being cut off, he became angry. Therefore being cut off caused him to become angry.
That makes as much sense as saying that after he took a shower he fell down the stairs therefore taking a shower caused him to fall down the stairs.
We could then further conclude that if he avoids ever taking a shower again he will never fall down stairs.
Totally false logic.
Imagine the extraordinary liberating freedom that each of us can bring to our lives the moment we accept that the meaning of each and every event and experience in our lives is solely the meaning we choose to place on it.
Imagine what our lives could become if, by so doing, we all assumed full ownership of the impact of each and every experience we have, and we therefore choose only meanings that energize and inspire us?
I know we’ve had this discussion before. I know many of you have written to tell me how difficult it is to achieve this state of victimless labeling and yet I have chosen to address it again in the hope that more of you will be able, and willing, to subscribe to this way of life.
I frequently get in trouble when I inform my friends and clients that there is no such thing as stress. In so saying, I am not referring to the physiological and physical stress that is placed on our bodies throughout the course of our daily activities, I am referring solely to those “things” in our lives that we consistently refer to as stressful: conflict, deadlines, challenges, relationship breakdowns, and all those many other things that lead to the conclusion that we are “stressed out.”
I strongly believe that if we were to embrace the philosophy that the only meaning of any and every event in our lives is the meaning we choose to place upon it and that, regardless of the seriousness, severity and disastrous nature of any event we can always find, should we so choose, meaning from that event that is exhilarating, energizing and empowering.
I realize this is not philosophically popular. I wear the invisible bruises that I have received from multiple verbal beatings I have taken over the years while expressing this viewpoint, but I stand resolute in my conviction that we own events in our lives, they don’t own us.
Fortunately I have a growing number of friends, colleagues and clients who think as I do and our group is only one of many that are like-minded in this belief.
If you doubt the veracity of what I am saying, please read blog #95. Being extraordinary is quite ordinary for this man. You will meet a truly remarkable man.
For those of you who are still skeptical of his notion I encourage you, the next time you are faced with a “stressful” event, to please reframe that event by placing a useful and beneficial meaning upon it.
By so doing, you will deny yourself the pain, stress and anxiety that negative meaning brings to our lives and instead will enable yourself to take positive, meaningful action to rectify the effects of this event.
And that is so worth striving for.
If you know what I mean?
Till we read again.
P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, this week introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure
I have recently done a series of radio interviews in my book, Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours and its application to people in different industries
Here are links to the interviews.
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