In general, when bad things happen or when the good stuff doesn’t happen fast enough, many people have one of two reactions – avoidance or blame. And neither of those responses will make you feel better or create a different outcome in your future.
What will shift things for you is to consciously, intentionally choose your response. This is called response-ability (pun completely intended). When something happens that is different than what you believe you want – the only proactive and empowering choice is to own it – this is my result.
Blame is NOT the Same as Responsibility
As long as you’re avoiding it (if I don’t look at it, maybe it will go away) or blaming someone or something for it (it’s the business, it’s the economy, it’s my childhood, it’s my parents, blah, blah, blah) or even if you’re blaming yourself (it’s all my fault for not doing/saying/thinking the right thing) – you are not taking responsibility and you are powerless.
So, I recommend looking at all circumstances with an attitude of gratitude. Now, that may sound all new-agey woo-woo to you. I mean, when you’re drowning under the flood of bad stuff, how the heck are you supposed to feel grateful, right?
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl explores his horrible experiences in a Nazi Death-Camp. If he could find meaning in the suffering of a Concentration Camp, don’t you think you might be able to look for a glimmer of light and gratitude in the midst of your own human drama?
There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for
When I was very ill with CFS, I practiced being grateful for the days I could stand long enough to brush my teeth. And if you practice looking for what there is to be grateful for, that will expand – there will be more and more blessings in your life. Because what we focus on expands.
But maybe that’s too much to start with. What if you just start with curiosity? What if you look at your circumstances, and ask – “Huh, isn’t that interesting – I wonder what this is about? What’s the lesson here? How do I grow, expand and develop from this place?” And choose to respond with gratitude for the experience, the learning, the challenge that asks you to overcome – to be bigger than you’re used to.
All of our experiences, in each moment are our teachers, but only if we actually look for the learning.
By the way, if you’re doing this just so the bad feelings will go away and the bad stuff will stop happening – that’s another form of avoidance. So, acceptance-of-what-is is an important piece of this puzzle.
There is no failure, only feedback
So, your job is to respond with the question – what’s the positive, constructive feedback in this experience?
So much of our experience is determined by what questions we ask about our situation. So, let me suggest a few alternative questions:
Instead of – why does this always happen to me? How about – What’s the payoff for me in creating this experience over and over? What benefit am I getting?
Instead of – Why can’t I get what I want? How about – What can I learn from what I am getting and how can I experiment with different responses to achieve different outcomes?
Instead of – What am I doing wrong? How about – what am I doing right? And how are my expectations creating this result?
Instead of – Why do I have to work so hard (or why is life so hard)? How about – how am I creating my own suffering? How could I think about these circumstances differently so I can move out of suffering and begin to enjoy this process?
Instead of – Why are there always these obstacles in front of me? How about – what are some new and different (out-of-the-box) ways to get around these obstacles? Who can help me with this? What are the most outrageous possible solutions to this problem?
If your questions focus on the value, the learning, the opportunities and the joy of the process and the experience, your attitude will organically shift into gratitude.
So start asking good questions, empowering questions, humorous questions and questions focused on solutions. And always, always, always, be looking for what the blessings are in each experience.
I am truly grateful that you take your precious time to read my words.