Why Me – Always – Everything??

A meeting that was supposed to be a quick check-in had turned into a two-hour debacle, a key project was now behind schedule despite her team’s apparent best efforts, and Kendra, manager of a cross-functional team at an IT company, was dreading more problems at home, with two teens, two dogs, and a partner away on business. Something needed to change and NOW.  

“My team let me down. Now I’m stuck on ‘island me’ without a life raft in sight! This problem is so huge that my career is going to stall as a result and my KPI’s will all be affected,“ Kendra thought miserably. 

Kendra needed some self-awareness, and realistic and optimistic thinking skills. The nice thing about skills is that (1) you can learn them. And (2) change is a process rather than an event; we are all in different stages of it and they can be navigated, even if you feel as if you are on an island. 

First ask yourself: What do I say is causing the problem?

It’s Personal…or Maybe Not

Am I attributing the cause to external factors which are hard to control or to things about myself?

It’s Permanent…or Maybe Not 

Do I see the cause as unchanging over time, which will affect me indefinitely, or is it temporary?

It’s Pervasive…or Maybe Not 

Do I think of the cause as affecting many/all areas of my life, or is it impacting me in just a specific context? 

Let’s look at Kendra’s statement: 

“My team let me down. (Done to me. Personal). Now I’m stuck on ‘island me’ without a life raft in sight! (Stuck. Permanent.) My career is going to stall as a result and my KPI’s will all be affected (Everything. Pervasive).

This is the recipe for both pessimism and inertia, and Kendra will be taking this explanatory style home with her where, research tells us, it will affect her kids’ ways of explaining their own adversities and engagement.

Instead Kendra can:

Enhance Self-Awareness

  • Enhance awareness of her personal “victim” style and depersonalize.
  • Regularly assess the attribution she uses to explain challenges, and adjust her strategies.
  • Set clear, achievable goals broken into doable chunks that can be realistically delegated. Great for managers and parents like Kendra!

Reframe Negative Attributions

  • Notice how she treats problems as permanent when she has lots of room to exercise agency rather than jumping to conclusions.
  • Actively practice reframing negative attributions to foster an optimistic mindset.
  • Say, “Another way to see this is X. When I see things that way, I feel/am motivated to do Y.”

Cultivate Openness and Mindfulness

  • Develop openness to feedback from a variety of sources.
  • This new information can help Kendra view current challenges as specific rather than affecting everything (pervasive).
  • Engage in mindfulness and meditation to stay grounded and enhance self-awareness during her change process.

When the weight of responsibilities and setbacks feels overwhelming, it’s easy to slip into a mindset of pessimism and inertia. But change is not insurmountable; it’s a navigable process that we can all master with the right tools and mindset.

So, next time you find yourself thinking, “I’m stuck on ‘island me’,” pause and ask: What do I say is causing the problem? Is it personal, permanent, pervasive? Can I lean towards a more optimistic and resilient outlook, closer to a more balanced and empowered me?

Read Daily Helpful Posts on Insta and Facebook


Schedule your discovery call here

About the author

Sherri Fisher, MEd, MAPP, executive coach and learning specialist, uncovers client motivation and focus for perseverance. She has decades of successful experience working with students, parents, and professionals who face learning, attention, and executive function challenges at school, home, and work.

Related Posts