In stressful times, it can be helpful to think that things will work out. There are two sides, however, to believing that things will work out—a beneficial aspect and a pitfall I hope to help you avoid.
The helpful side of believing that things will work out comes from realizing that we often worry about things that will not matter in the long run. If you worry about some everyday thing, thinking “things will work out” can be calming. I have used this idea many times when I’m anxious about something—money, taking a test, or meeting someone new. “Things will work out” helps me not to sweat the issue or the encounter and move forward with greater ease.
If we’re anxious about something, we can consider whether it will matter to us in five or ten years. The answer will be “no” 99% of the time, I would say. Another way to think of this is to imagine yourself looking down on the earth from 100,00 feet or a thousand miles or whatever distance makes you and your concern look very small. Then ask, is it really such a big deal? From such a vantage point, it probably is not. You don’t have to stress so much about it.
The thought “things will work out” can also help when events occur that we don’t want. Not getting that job, losing a relationship, or coming up short in a major competition can be disappointing. But if we believe that things will work out, it can ease the pain.
Even major setbacks, such as a major disease or a heart attack, can seem bad, but in the long run, a person may appreciate aspects of their lives or learn something that he or she would not otherwise have gained. In this sense, after the initial crisis, one can come to believe that things work out.
In fact, people’s experiences of major catastrophes, such as injuries in wars, major trauma of an assault or abuse, or untimely death, depends on their attitudes. If they can draw meaning or appreciation for life from the horrible circumstances, then one can say that things worked out in some sense.
There is one way, however, in which appealing to “things will work out” can be dangerous. If I use this phrase to avoid staying on point or to stall on action on things that are priorities in my life, I hurt myself. Pink Floyd’s lyric tells us what can happen. Procrastinate, depend on things working out, “and then one day you find ten years have got behind you.”
So, if you let fear or laziness dominate, if you use “things will work out” as an excuse to avoid action, mediocrity and an unfulfilled life can result. “Things will work out” can become synonymous with just getting by. If just getting by is enough for you, then just keep thinking things will work out, and just getting by is what you will get.
So positive thinking is helpful—“things will work out”—but action towards one’s goals is also important.
This is Glenn Stevenson, with Self Sense Counseling and Coaching, urging you to think, “things will work out” in trying times, but also calling on you to take action toward your goals rather than just depending on things working out.