May 07, 2021
2 mins read
It's Friday! The day everyone has been waiting for - well I know I have!
This week, I wanted to share an interesting principle that I came across in my reading - The Stockdale Paradox.
What is it?
Back in the 1940s, during the Vietnam war, an American soldier, Stockdale, was imprisoned for years. Imagine, being tortured for years without knowing if someone will come to save you at all. He saw that many of his friends started to "lose it" and some had even tragic ends too because the mental pressure was simply too much. So how did Stockdale not only survive the entire torture experience for years but come out of it stronger to share his story with the world?
The big insight
During his imprisonment, Stockdale noticed that his friends who were "optimistic" ended up suffering the most. Because as days went by, no one came to save them. The optimism turned into suffering and hurt his friends the most. On the other hand, friends who were entirely "realists" had no hope, and as days went by they too hurt themselves.
The key according to Stockdale is the balance between being "hopeful" that things will turn out well in the future AND the ability to confront "reality" as it is (not run or ignore it)
How to achieve the balance?
The "paradox" is, to be truly resilient you need both. You need a dose of reality and a tinge of hope. One without another is disastrous.
I'm no master, but I've been experimenting with my mental health for years now and one particularly useful thing that helps is asking some deep questions: how do I know what I know? and what's the best I can do at this moment? What is this here to teach me?
How can you apply it?
Being a type-A-driven personality like you are, I'm sure you often aim for big things. That often brings you to situations where you have to deal with things you can't control. That feeling of not in control can cause stress. So applying the Stockdale principle can help you get through it - or at least manage it.
That's all for this week! buzz me if you have any feedback!
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