Sliding Door Moments: Your Life’s New Possibilities And Lost Opportunities

Sliding door moment

“Your life is a result of the choices you have made. If you don’t like your life, start making better choices.”

Zig Ziglar

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered about the sliding door moments in your life?

 

These are the seemingly trivial choices that may have had a big impact on your life.

 

Small actions and choices today may seem unimportant. But over the course of days, weeks, months, and years, they can have life-changing implications.

 


But what does “sliding doors” have to do with these seemingly inconsequential moments that can alter the trajectory of your life?

 

The Sliding Door Metaphor

The term ‘sliding door moment’ is used to describe seemingly insignificant incidents that change the course of future events.

 

The metaphor for the sliding door comes from the film of the same name. This British-American comedy drama from 1998 depicted the two possible life paths of Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow), the lead character. The course of her life will depend on whether she boards a train or not.

 

woman-waling-two-paths

 

In the first version of the story, Helen managed to catch a London Underground train on time. The outcome of being home earlier than usual was the unpleasant surprise of witnessing her boyfriend cheating on her.

 

So, she left him, got a new hairstyle, established her own PR firm and fell in love with John Hannah.

 

The second version of the story found Helen missing the train. By the time she got home, her boyfriend’s lover had already left. She did not have any clues about his infidelity.

 

In this alternative timeline, she could not land a new PR job. And she needed to support her penniless cheating partner. As a result, she opted for a job at a sandwich shop.

 

As the doors slide open and closed, she comes to the crossroads of catching or missing her train home. Thus, “sliding doors” was coined to describe the idea that life is made up of a series of near-misses and what-ifs.

 

The sliding door of the train served as a metaphor for lost opportunities and new possibilities. This movie conveys to us the idea that those seemingly inconsequential incidents resulted in Helen leading two completely different lives.

 

So, what made this 23-year-old film such a cult classic of pop psychology?

 

Sliding Door At Work

Perhaps the movie has helped us to realize that nothing is insignificant. Tiny moments or decisions may have a huge impact on our lives. The sliding door moment represents the threads of our daily existence.

 

In a UK poll on life-changing unexpected events and split-second moments, eight out of ten people said they had experienced a “sliding door moment” that transformed their lives forever.

 

16% expressed sadness about losing the phone number of someone they genuinely believed could have been their soul mate.

 

man-woman-soulmate

 

Another 5% said that coming late on a date compromised their chance of meeting their potential future life partner.

8% of individuals polled claim to have forgotten to buy a lottery ticket, only to have their customary numbers come up.

 

The survey also discovered that being late played a huge role in people’s feelings of missing out on a great opportunity.

 

One in every 20 people reported that they were unable to secure their desired job. Because they were late for the interview due to traffic or delays caused by public transportation.

 

Life Is Full Of Sliding Door Moments

The proverbial “road not taken” is a question that we have probably asked ourselves about a million times in our lives.

 

Writer and director Peter Howitt’s inspiration for the movie came about after experiencing his very own sliding door moment.

 

He was contemplating whether to call his friend on a pay phone. When he decided to walk over to a pay phone across the street, he was inches away from being hit by a car.

 

red-phone-booth

 

Despite the fact that no one was injured, Howitt was troubled by the incident and its potential ramifications for him. “We have millions of sliding door moments in our everyday,” he says. Naturally, some are more significant than others.

 

An insignificant decision like getting to a pay phone, has a profound impact on his life and future. Because it causes him to rethink his choices:

“Now, what would have happened if he had hit me?”

 

Small Decisions, Big Impact

Think of the tiny decisions and chance encounters in your daily life. You’d be surprised how many people you dismiss as insignificant have sent you into a different orbit without your knowledge.

 

Going to a party instead of watching a game at home. Taking a flight instead of going on a road trip. Leaving work early in order to avoid an accident during your regular commute.

 

Turning left when you should have turned right. Even the late George Michael had an extraordinary sliding door experience that he immortalized in his song, “A Different Corner.”

 

The singer-songwriter confessed that this song was the “most honest” and personal:

“I think you can tell that ‘A Different Corner’ is genuinely the sound of a man whose heart’s been broken.”

 

A note on the back sleeve of the album states: “This record is dedicated to a memory.” And from the lyrics, you can tell that he had a painful sliding door moment:

“Take me back in time, maybe I can forget. Turn a different corner and we never would have met.”

 

Sliding door moment A Different Corner

Everything you think you know about your life could be transformed in an instant. Depending on your decision in the sliding door moment, that outcome can either be positive or negative.

 

I have had the experience of declining an invitation to a casual meeting that I realized (much later) was a missed business opportunity.

 

On the flip side, I have also blindly accepted requests to attend social functions. And that ended up with a few newly made acquaintances, which later turned into a great business relationship.

 

A sliding door moment also exists in every relationship.

 

So, these sliding door moments occur all the time, and most of the time we are oblivious to them.

 

What Might Have Been

The majority of the time, sliding door moments occur without our knowledge. But the ones that do, can lead to regret and shame.

 

Particularly if you spend too much time pondering “what might have been if things had gone differently.”

 

Many regrets are small and insignificant – so much so that they are soon forgotten. But some regrets last a lifetime. These are the key moments in your life when you wish you could go back in time and change things.

 

sliding door moment regret

 

In psychology, this is known as “counterfactual thinking.” Many people find imagining an alternative outcome to what has actually happened in their lives very enticing. Even if it makes them sad to think about it.

 

When you start to speculate about how your life could have turned out differently, you’re engaging in counterfactual thinking. These are your mental representations of alternatives to past events or actions in your life.

 

Would you be happily married and have children today if you had not split up with your college sweetheart? And, in retrospect, you ended the relationship over what now appears to be a petty squabble? Your counterfactual thinking will be more acute the more serious the event in question is.

 

Where would you be today and what kind of life would you be leading if you had accepted that job offer instead of staying in your current position?

 

What if I had stayed at home to study for my finals instead of partying with my pals late into the night?

 

From time to time, we engage in counterfactual thinking. It’s impossible to avoid because it appears to be a part of our psychological makeup. That is to say, we are hardwired to do it.

 

Thinking Upward And Downward

When your counterfactual thinking is directed upward, you tend to imagine how things could have been better. This is where you develop mental simulations of better-than-real-life scenarios.

 

However, you may feel unhappy or disappointed as a result of these thoughts. Because you will be thinking about how things could have gone better.

 

Sliding door moment positive emotion

 

When you experience positive emotions when contemplating about your sliding door moment, that is a downward counterfactual thought.

 

This mode of thinking may benefit you simply because it enhances your attitude in a positive way.

 

If you are a person with a high self-esteem, you would most likely construct more downward counterfactuals thinking. And you will be comforting yourself with the knowledge that things “might have been far worse.”

 

This way of thinking might be viewed as a self-improvement approach in response to negative situations or moods. It’s a method of healing a bad mood brought on by a bad event.

 

One of the benefits of counterfactual thinking is that it can help you regulate your emotions and help you become more resilient. A number of psychologists believe pondering the “what-ifs” improves your ability to make more prudent decisions in the future.

 

Every day, you will make approximately 35,000 decisions as you go about your life. I’m guessing this is only a ballpark figure, but I got it from what I consider to be a reliable source

 

You are where you are today as a result of a slew of decisions you made yesterday. Self-help guru and best-selling author Wayne Dyer once said:

“Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.”

 

Be Aware of the Decisions You Make Today

The sliding door moments in your life are the result of a myriad of choices you’ve made. Most of them are tiny insignificant ones.

 

Sliding door moment decision

 

Even a seemingly insignificant decision like watching TV means that it had taken away your time from doing something else. Every action you take is a decision not to take another.

 

Whatever you do, no matter how insignificant you believe it is, will have an impact. Once you understand the ramifications of a sliding door moment, you will have a new realization That a seemingly insignificant act can have a significant impact on others’ lives as well as your own.

 

This is similar to the butterfly effect, a term coined by meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who commented that:

“One flap of a seagull’s wings could change the course of weather forever.” 

 

Everything in life, according to Lorenz, is a component of a bigger system. Hence, even trivial events can have significant impacts on other things. Because he eventually changed the metaphor to a butterfly, the phenomenon is now known as the “butterfly effect.”

 

When the American colonies were at odds with the English Parliament in 1758, Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanack:

“A little neglect may breed great mischief.”

 

He also included an adage from the 13th century that serves as a serious reminder that seemingly insignificant acts or omissions can have disastrous and unanticipated consequences:

“For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of the shoe, the horse was lost. For want of the horse, the rider was lost. For want of the rider, the battle was lost. For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost. And all from the want of a horseshoe nail.”

 

Conclusion

One missing horseshoe nail could be insignificant, or it could result in the defeat of a war. It’s impossible to know which outcome will occur.

 

Because those sliding door moments can have such far-reaching consequences, it’s important to be aware of your daily choices. Decisions help shift your current reality.

 

So, if you are not happy with where you are right now, make the decisions that will change your life trajectory for the better. But before you do that, it’s important to know where you are right now and where you intend to go.

 

sliding-doors

 

That way, you will be sure that those sliding doors are doorways to your happiness. Like the old adage:

“One door closes, another door opens,”

 

The sliding door phenomenon forgoes one outcome in favor of another. All because of a seemingly inconsequential decision.

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