Take This Quiz to Figure Out Your Approach to Life’s Challenges
I was once a practicing therapist. I haven’t been in some time, and this is only an informal personality test- not one meant for diagnosis, treatment, or any other official prognosis. It’s a result of my own experience and not extensive tests involving a control group and random sampling of diverse individuals. Take this unofficial quiz and see where you fall when it comes to handling life’s challenges.
- If you are prescribed a medication, do you take it consistently as prescribed? (1 point for no, 2 points for yes, and 2 points for n/a)
- Do you read self-help books or watch instructional videos to solve problems? (1 point for no, 2 points for yes)
- Do you practice regular self-care? (1 point for no, 2 points for yes)
- How true are the following statements for you?
My life is a result of the choices I’ve made. (Not true- 1 point, Somewhat true- 2 points, Very true- 3 points)
My life is a result of the things that have happened to me. (Not true- 3 points, Sometimes true- 2 points, Very true- 1 point)
I am capable of speaking up for myself and telling others “no.” (Not true- 1 point, Sometimes true- 2 points, Very true- 3 points)
I am capable of solving my problems. (Not true- 1 point, Sometimes true- 2 points, Very true- 3 points)
My happiness depends on myself. (Not true- 1 point, Sometimes true- 2 points, Very true- 3 points)
16–19 points- Capable, resilient, and determined, this type of person is ready to meet life’s challenges head on.
When I was a therapist, this type of client was the easiest to work with for a number of reasons. They would participate in the therapy process, complete the “homework” assignments they were given, practice what we discussed, read self-help books to supplement therapy, take any prescribed medications, and actively try to create change- even when it was tough (as it always is) and even when there were setbacks (as there always are). They kept trying and didn’t give up on themselves even when they wanted to because they had decided to change.
Less than 16 points- Insecure, overwhelmed, and anxious, this type of person struggles with accountability, follow through, and personal agency. This type of client could be a challenge.
Every problem they had was someone else’s fault or outside of their control. They had not yet learned to take responsibility for the role they play in the lives they lead. This is often characterized by total resistance to making personal changes, placing blame, or making excuses. This type of client was less likely to complete homework assignments designed to enhance personal growth or to take the time to read and learn about how to help themselves. Plans made were rarely followed through, with more time involved in talking about change than taking action. Often, halfhearted attempts were made, which were designed to fail in order to have another excuse for not trying again. Prescribed medications were often not taken or taken sporadically. For this person, change is something everyone else needs to do to accommodate them, not the other way around.
From a therapist perspective, the first group was the more rewarding to work with, but the second group often needed me more. Unfortunately, that need could become codependence and yet another excuse for not taking action in their own lives. It’s far easier to give up our personal power and say that everything is outside of our control than it is to engage in our own lives and do the sometimes difficult things to make our lives what we want.
If this sounds judgmental, I don’t mean it that way. But if you read this and saw some of your behaviors in that second group, consider this your wake-up call. Your life, at this moment, isn’t someone else’s fault. It’s not because you were once a victim or because your parents made mistakes. It’s not because of any one factor or hardship. Our lives are what they are because of the choices we’ve made. If we choose to learn from those choices, we can make more positive ones as we continue through our lives. If we choose to make excuses, we’ll likely continue to make the same- and even worse- mistakes.
If we want to be the resilient type of person, capable of taking charge and changing our lives for the better, we need to learn to choose our attitudes. Choosing our attitude is about acknowledging the struggle but taking an action to address it. Of course, when I’m having a hard time, I cast some serious side eye at people who tell me to choose my attitude or not let a negative experience ruin my whole day.
If you’re struggling right now, I know that I’m about to earn that same expression from you, and deservedly so. Life is difficult, and some people have challenges I know nothing about. I don’t assume that my experiences are universal, although some of them naturally are. But my very specific experience isn’t someone else’s and vice versa.
I recently went through an absolutely brutal, heart-wrenching breakup. It wasn’t what I wanted or expected, but it was also my choice. I chose to end a relationship that was unhealthy for me, even though in the short-term it caused me a great deal of grief. I didn’t do it because I enjoy suffering. I did it because I know what I want from my life, and this person had made choices that I couldn’t accept and still continue participating in that relationship.
Despite the choices he made, I don’t blame him for the direction my life took. I chose it. Do I wish he’d made other choices? Of course I do. Do I wish I could have avoided the painful ending? Absolutely! But all I could do was respect my own intuition and follow that course. Even though it hurt. I knew that it was the right choice for my long-term happiness.
I couldn’t control what initiated the change. All I could do was decide how I would deal with it. That can be one of the most difficult things to accept- that we cannot change other people or dictate their behaviors. When we see someone’s character and choices for what they are, we then must decide what we’re able to tolerate. It’s all about about healthy boundaries and knowing who we are.
Another example would be when I had a difficult day. I was sad and discouraged. A few things had happen in the space of a couple of hours that left me feeling miserable. I spent a day or two wallowing in that misery, truly feeling every facet of it. While I was in it, I practiced self-care. I got some extra rest. I drank more water. I took a long bath. I read a book. I took care of myself until I began feeling better. Then I decided to make a list of some personal goals I could work on. I took the focus off of the setbacks and began instead to focus on myself and what I would like to accomplish. I chose my attitude, and by doing so, I chose my life.
The lives we live by default, when we refuse to make the choices we need to make, are a pale impression of the lives we could be leading. Our joys are muted, our miseries are compounded, and our frustration grows as we watch other people make the choices that lead to the lives we’d like to be living but can’t seem to achieve. When we decide how we want to live and begin to make choices to honor that decision, the Universe begins to provide us with the opportunities we need.
Life happens, and it can be so very difficult. But we get to choose how we handle the things that happen to us. We get to decide whether or not we give up or whether we keep trying. We can decide who we want to surround ourselves with and how we want to spend our time. Our lives are filled with choices that we do have the power to make, and those choices create our lives. It’s time to choose our attitude so that we can choose to live the lives we’re capable of living.
I’m not advocating that we bypass our difficult experiences. I’m certainly not suggesting that we slap a happy smile on our faces when we’re feeling other emotions. I’m not saying that depression and other mental health issues aren’t real. As a former therapist, I would never say any of these things. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is sit in our struggle and truly feel it. We need to be sad, to cry, to grieve, and to feel miserable. Or to get very angry and express it. We don’t need to skip these very human emotions because they aren’t as pretty or as comfortable as we’d like.
So when I say choose your attitude, choose your life, I am not saying any of that. What I am saying is that there are things that happen in our lives that are entirely outside of our control. There are events that occur that we can’t anticipate or plan for or even conceive of before they happen. Life can be very hard, and we’re allowed to feel all the feelings when challenges present themselves. The first type of person in the quiz above tends to tackle these challenges. They don’t do it because they feel less fear or because it’s easier for them. They do it because they have committed to making the change, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
When I say choose your attitude, choose your life, I am stating that we do get to choose how we’ll handle what happens to us. We can decide whether we take an action or don’t. Our choices define the kind of lives we live, and even when we don’t make a choice, we make one by default. The second type of person struggles with the idea of being personally responsible for the type of lives they’re living. After all, don’t bad things happen to good people?
Absolutely! Life happens, and it can knock us sideways in an instance. But if we choose to start helping ourselves and asking for help from others when we need it, we’re more likely to start making the change that will positively impact our lives. When we own our part in the drama around us, we learn to take on new roles rather than being active participants in chaos. We learn to surround ourselves with a strong support system, and we learn to trust that we’re so much stronger than we ever knew.
If you find yourself in that second group, never fear! You are as strong, as brave, and as capable as the other. You just haven’t realized it yet.