I can think of at least three ways to react to any situation:
Denial: ‘Denying the consequence’ sounds like alternative terminology for a formal fallacy, with reason. Some of the ‘science’ behind Freud’s theories may demonstrate his delusion, however the value of denial as a coping mechanism is evident in day to day life. Without the ability to ‘deny’ or direct our attention away from stressors such as the fact of our mortality, living a productive life would be incredibly difficult.
While denial is indeed a way of coping, it is rarely a constructive one when used to ‘address’ problems. The intent – conscious or not – is to avoid anxiety. It is the root of procrastination. It may provide short term gain, though how can we learn from something we deny?
Adopting the role of the ‘victim’: An alternative, or perhaps postscript to denial is adopting the role of the victim. This method of coping is encapsulated in the description of the situation: ‘That’s just my luck’. ‘They were out to get me’. ‘They had picked someone else before I even had a chance’. ‘That’d be right’.
The situation is explored in stages of outrage and self-pity. By believing things just ‘happen’ to us, how can we take a proactive approach to either understanding and resolving the issue, or learning from it to avoid similar scenarios in future? By adopting the role of the victim, we effectively rob ourselves of the power to take positive, constructive steps and of the opportunity to actively engage in seeking the life we want to live. We wait for something good to happen to us rather than seeking out fun, excitement, new experiences.
Embracing the power to choose: By identifying a set of circumstances and holding ourselves accountable for the steps we take, we can embrace our power to make a choice. These choices are not always ‘good’ ones. Ill-conceived decisions can cause disruption, concern and grief; however when reflected on, the consequences can present an excellent opportunity to learn about humanity.
Being accountable can be difficult. The choice itself can bring the temptation of denial. But denial brings with it the role of the victim, and I for one would much prefer to take a well-calculated risk and fail than live a life inside an intellectual prison of my own design. Liberate the mind. Life should not be something that ‘happens’ to us. Ideally, life is an opportunity to learn as much as we can about happiness and its many forms through our successes and failures.
It takes a lot of courage to assert control over our own lives. To stand ready to make a choice. To consider how to react. To seek or create a moment of clarity, of reflection. To forge our own path, complete with peaks, holes and other clichés.
For me, self-empowerment has afforded me more enlightenment than I could have hoped for.