“Can’t I ever catch a break? Or can I?” (02/07/17)

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Have you ever heard yourself saying, “Can’t I ever catch a break? Why does everything always have to go wrong?” Awww, I’m sure you’ve never said that. Everything goes perfectly as planned in your life. I must be the only one who ever feels that way. But in the event you have felt as if you can never catch a break, please read on.

To simplify writing, I’m going to often speak in the context of “me” and “I”, but I’m referring to all of us. So please put yourself in place when I use the words “me” or “I”.

It always seems like I can never catch a break! Shit is almost always going wrong for me or nothing goes as planned. I’m like the kiss of death. Whatever I touch turns to dog shit. Or does it? Just because I didn’t get what I wanted (or thought I wanted), doesn’t mean that I didn’t catch a break.

So as I daily grouse, “Can’t I ever catch a break?” Maybe I DO catch more good breaks than bad breaks. But it seems that the bad breaks always stand out more, even when they’re small bad breaks. The good breaks feel incidental and feel few and far between. But compounded, I know that all the good breaks add up.

I wanted to get a better perspective on this. I wanted to analyze this mathematically. I’ve thought on this for quite a long time. But because there are so many variables and unknowns, I can’t even come up with a simple math equation or even  a complicated algebraic equation to allow for or include variables and unknowns. For instance, 1 bad break may have more dire implications than 20 good breaks and vice versa, in that 1 good break may outweigh 20 smaller bad breaks.

But for simplicity sake, let’s say that I catch a good break 50% of the time. Thus, 50% of 2 is 1. The same 50% ratio reveals more total good and bad break occurrences when I undertake more attempts. 50% of 10 is 5 and 50% of 40 is 20. The total number of good and bad breaks increases with the more attempts I try. That’s why it seems that the more you try the harder things get and the fewer strokes of luck come your way. But that’s how the mathematics of it works. The more attempts I make the higher number of failures occur but I also have more successes in total. Yet it’s those failures (big and small) that seem to stand out more.

So, how can I (and you), overcome this mental appearance of never catching a break? How can we maintain a pro-active and positive attitude when we already know that mathematically there will be failures? (In essence: Why try if you already know that you’re going to fail?) If your answer is, “I pray,” or “Let go and let God,” well then that’s fine, you don’t have to read any more. But if you’re the type of person that doesn’t expect God to do everything for you, then read on.

Still reading? Cool. Here are a few things to consider. Even in the face of likely failure, you don’t know what knowledge the failure will lead to. Failure at one attempt may reveal a better or different route to take. It may also reveal evidence that shows “don’t try this again.” Failures can point you in a better direction. A small failure now can save you from a huge failure later.

What does it mean to “catch a break?”

How many times have you felt something was a bad break but then turned out positive? (Not to be confused with “Everything turns out for the best” or “If it was meant to be…” bullshit.) I am a firm believer that, “Things don’t always turn out for the best, but you CAN make the best of how things turned out.” That doesn’t mean the outcome will be the best, but at least you’ve attempted at making the best from the situation. I could give plenty examples of things that didn’t turn out for the best. Not just from my life but many other people’s lives. Usually things just turn out how they turn out. But with a pro-active attitude you can make something good out of a bad break.

How many times have you not gotten what you wanted (and felt like you didn’t catch a break), only to go on to something even greater? So maybe by not catching a break today you actually DID catch a break? Consider things which have happened in your own life. I’ve had plenty of situations where I thought I didn’t catch a break but then better events unfolded as a result. I’ve also had plenty of instances when I thought I had caught a good break but then I ended up in a worse spot.

Because of all the variables, unseen happenings and unknowns, a good break in life is often veiled behind a bad break. I have also found that “good breaks” take time to unfold. Some innocuous event takes place today or you have a chance meeting with someone, which then, months or years later turns out to have been a lucky break, but it seemed like nothing at the time. How many times have I been lucky (or caught a break), and I was unaware of it?

I also believe that to “catch a break” you need to have a clear vision (or written statement) of concrete end results. “I just want to be happy,” is too ambiguous. What is the concrete reference point? Maybe you’re already happy but you don’t know it? I feel you should have clearly defined goals and definitive “end results” in mind.

You can help yourself catch more “lucky breaks” when you have clear goals and prepare yourself with knowledge and skills. Then you have to make attempts. You can’t get a job if you don’t apply for one. You can’t be successful or happy if you don’t apply yourself and you can’t “catch a break” if you don’t make any attempts at something. And just because you reached a goal or accomplished an end result does that mean you caught a lucky break? Weren’t there many points and stages along the way? What if your final goal is achieved but it was a struggle laced with many failures and only a few “lucky breaks” occurred along the way?

Louis Pasteur said, “Chance befalls the prepared.” (Often misquoted as, “Luck befalls the prepared.”) But I feel that “chance” is actually a better word. Because when you are prepared with knowledge and skills, then make an attempt, your “chance” for a successful outcome is much higher. You may get some lucky breaks along the way, but you can be proud of YOU because YOU did the work and allowed for luck to come your way.

There’s also an old saying that goes: “Be careful of what you wish for because it may come true.” I believe it should be stated: “Be careful of what you attempt because it may come true.” For instance, you may apply for a certain job, and you hope that you get it. You’re all excited because you DO get the job but then it turns out to be a miserable job. The same thing happens in relationships, marriages, friendships, businesses, investments, all sorts of areas of life. So when something doesn’t go your way, remember that it may be a good break after all because a good break in life is often veiled behind a bad break.

This subject has a lot of relevance with sobriety. When things go wrong I might feel like drinking. When things go right I might feel like having a celebratory drink. But I know that drinking will not improve my ratio of catching good breaks. In fact, I’d most likely have more failures and make fewer intelligent attempts if I were to start drinking again. However, my clear mind gets over stimulated and I start thinking that I should be catching more good breaks now that I’m a non-drinker. Sobriety owes me nothing and sobriety guarantees me nothing. Drinking would only make things worse (but I’d be too drunk to realize it, until everything imploded on me again). Sobriety has allowed me to make fewer dumb mistakes and I can recover faster from the mistakes I do make. So my sober mind has helped me improve my ratio of good breaks versus bad breaks. It just doesn’t always feel that way.

I may feel as if I can’t catch a break in life, but the reality is that I DO catch more good breaks than I think. I just need to be a bit more realistic about my desires and be a little less demanding and expecting of what I want from myself. I should also be a bit more grateful and appreciative of the breaks I have gotten. I need to be more appreciative of my sobriety and not be demanding or expecting of my sobriety. Going back to being a boozer won’t do me much good. It won’t advance my success rate any and it won’t help me accomplish more goals. It might help me forget about the failures of the past and present, but it won’t set the stage for future successes. It will only enable me to catch more bad breaks.

As for you, I hope that you prepare yourself with knowledge and skills so that more and more good breaks come your way. I hope you see them coming your way and that you take advantage when they happen. I genuinely hope that your end result turns out better than you ever imagined.

These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.

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