teejay 96 asks: Lately I’ve been feeling really down. I barely passed this important exam I took a few months back. I’m supposed to be preparing for the next exam in line, but I’m so demoralized. I tried so hard for the last exam and thought I would pass really well. But, that didn’t happen. I’ve lost interest in reading and I really don’t know what to do. Nobody understands and they all think I’m fine. HELP!
Hi teejay 96 –
This is a really fascinating situation! I have to confess, we dogs have the exact opposite point of view. If I walk outdoors and a squirrel is standing by me and I grab it, I don’t feel any particular pride. But if I see a squirrel a hundred feet away, and I run after it and it runs fast and turns tight corners that I have to try really hard to take, and it runs up a tree and I leap and just barely grab it by the tail, and it falls off the tree but is able to run away from me and I chase it and just barely grab it before it gets under the fence… I feel great! That’s the most exciting part of my day, and I feel more confident of my abilities as a hunter than I did before.
You, on the other hand, seem to have been discouraged by having not passed that exam more easily.
And what’s worse, instead of the exam being so hard making you study harder for the next one, you’ve lost the spark that made you a good student in the first place.
So we need to do some serious work here, right away!
– First thing, think about all that you’ve done to get yourself this far. How much schooling have you had? How much studying have you done? How much have you earned the right to have some success?
– Then, second, forget about how you did on that other test. The fact is, you passed. Albert Einstein famously failed his college entrance math exams. No one will ever care how you did on that test, once you’ve moved on in your life. Who knows, maybe the test was poorly written, and you’ll become someone who writes better tests! But for now, the great news is you passed it, and the future is all that matters.
– Third, I want you to sit back and think about what it is that you’ve been working to achieve. What’s your dream? What’s the image you have of what your life will be after you’re done with school? What will passing these exams do for you?
– And fourth, I want you to imagine me there. Yes, I mean a silly, cheerful, tailwagging dog who wants nothing more than to play and jump on you. And every time you start to think about how awful, terrible, useless, absurd, and unlovable you are because you didn’t ace that exam, imagine my face looking at you, completely adoring, thinking you’re amazing, and having no ability to comprehend all that shame and self-loathing. And hopefully, hopefully, that will slap you with a refreshing realization of just how CRAZY all those bad feelings are! After all, Handsome says I’m the best thing ever, and if he’s right, then that means I’m right – which means that all those awful beliefs of yours are completely WRONG!
– And fifth (I’ll bet you saw this coming), if it’s possible, you might want to think about getting a real dog of your own, who can do what you imagine me doing, right in your face!
– Now, of course, there is a part Six. Once you’ve done all that work, put it all together: How great your past achievements are, how unimportant your less-than-perfect grade on that one exam was, your ambitions for the future, and how worthy of love and respect you are… and GET STUDYING!! Your future awaits, and is full of joy and success. Jump to it!
There’s a part seven too, naturally: Let me know how it goes!