How calloused of me to expect human beings to be “normal” when most of us have gone through debilitating pain.
How naïve of me to expect people to be “mature” when most of us were raised by flawed and confused adults.
How short-sighted of me to be intolerant of people who are trying their hardest to make sense of their own crazy circumstances.
This is funny…except when sticking to our story keeps us stuck in a punishing rut.
After speaking to a group of people about changing their lives for good, inevitably, someone always tells me how their situation is different and they cannot be held accountable for using the techniques I have offered. Although disappointed, I am not surprised. For decades, I was that person.
How easily I let myself off the hook! And how easily I told the story that stole the relief I desperately needed.
All the more reason for regularly examining my stories.
“If change doesn’t feel uncomfortable, it probably isn’t really change.” – John Maxwell
I had the unfortunate habit of challenging and resisting anyone who even hinted that I might need to change something. It was so insulting and painful. Maxwell suggests that the best way to avoid this discomfort is to repeat the following mantra:
- Change is personal: I need to change.
- Change is positive: I’m able to change.
- Change is profitable: I will be rewarded by change.
These words have changed the way I think about the pain associated with change.
And thinking differently is always the first step to relief.
Check it out:
When I feel so nostalgic that I cannot be content with the present.
When I feel so negative that I shut down my own productivity.
When I am so pessimistic that I attempt to solve tomorrow’s challenges without tomorrow’s resources.
…and better logic.
Things that I’d rather not be honest about but when I am, it makes me less judgmental and easier to be around:
I am disgusting sometimes too. It’s not just the people I criticize.
I have lied and manipulated facts when I was scared of getting in trouble.
I have made myself look better than I actually was.
I have feared rejection and looking unworthy to others.
I have sometimes done things to get attention.
Sometimes, I have even wished awful things upon cable and mobile phone companies (whom I perceived to be arrogant).
I have screamed at family members like a crazy woman and would have killed my sister if I could have gotten away with it.
We may not have killed people, but most of us have thought about it.
That makes me more prone to forgive people who actually fall off the edge.
If we are tired of feeling disappointed with people, we must…
- Quit expecting them to be other than human
- Start looking inside (instead of outside) for what we need
- Refrain from blaming others for our pain
- Take responsibility for our own happiness
More than one truth-teller in my life has told me that I was trying to get something out of them that I could only get from within. They were right. Now, on those after-midnight soul-searches (that, btw, increase in frequency with age), I get it.
We must also remember the times that people have exceeded our expectations, and/or the times that it was us who did the disappointing.
Keep it real. Blaming is the choice of fools.
I can so relate to this quote from the author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Into my teens, I frequently sat out in the woods hoping and waiting for Martians to take me away. I did this for two reasons:
- I was bored with my life
- I thought I must be an alien because I was so very different from (and inferior to) my peers
But, the Martians never came.
Instead, I was forced to grow up–and into an appreciation for my life.
It took a while, but today, I can marvel at the miracle of:
- living things all around me
- mistakes that turn into miracles
- and the countless other humans who feel so much like I did
(originally posted Feb 2014)
Instead of “bouncing back” from trauma and loss, Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Option B, suggests the possibility of, and preference for, “bouncing forward,” citing multiple examples of how real peoples’ lives improved after horrific ordeals of pain and loss.
As Sheryl Sandberg, I do not want to minimize the pain of having “option A” ripped from our hands, only point out that believing in “Option B” will do us a heck of a lot of good. Rather than succumbing to the mantra of “I can never recover from this,” we can join forces with those who bounce forward by asking, “How can I make this pain count?”
Here’s to a day of bouncing forward…not just back. Cheers.