“If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~Oprah Winfrey
Many times our thoughts go down the same well-worn path: “Why me? Why do I have to deal with this? Life isn’t supposed to be like this. It isn’t fair!”
We simply believe we know how life was supposed to turn out, and ours aint anything like that! It seems like we have challenges to deal with that others don’t—that ours is a lot harder.
We feel like all our energy and potential is being sucked up in dealing with adverse circumstances, leaving us no resources to do the things we really want to do in life.
Life is not the problem; expectations are.
If we start looking back at our lives, that every time we struggled to deal with a situation, it was because our expectations were clashing with reality. we had created a picture in our heads of how life should be and when things didn’t turn out, we didn’t cope.
It wasn’t life that was the problem; it was our unrealistic expectations.
If you are feeling hardly done by and frustrated about your circumstances, ask yourself if there is a mismatch between the reality of your situation and what you expected. If there is, you have inadvertently set yourself up for frustration, disappointment, and even anger.
While these emotions are natural when we experience adversity, they are not helpful to live with long term.
The only way to resolve them is to face up to the situation you are actually in and accept it. This does not mean we should not have any expectations but if we want to be content, we need to accept what is during hard times while trusting for something better in the future.
Instead of trying to change the world, change your focus.
Many times we look at only one side of our life. We are very good at seeing what's not there (that we thought should have been), but were ignoring what was there that was good.
We ignore embracing and being grateful for how other people, care for us, how we were growing in wisdom and compassion, and how the experience was teaching us more about ourselves.
If you seem to be coping with more than your fair share of frustration and disappointment, check your focus for a minute. Are you only seeing the gaps, where reality isn’t meeting your expectations, or are you also acknowledging the good that is coming your way?
It may be helpful to create a list with two columns where you can explore what you are feeling about your circumstances.
On the right side, write down where your expectations aren’t aligning with reality: where the gaps are, what sucks, and what you think shouldn’t be happening.
On the other side, write down what is positive: where the divine is in the situation and what is great about this. This is not about being falsely positive. This is about finding the moments of genuine joy and connection in the midst of pain.
Pay attention to how you feel when making each list. Having refocused the situation for yourself, you can now choose which emotions to take into the future about that experience.
The great thing about this exercise is that it frees you from striving to change the world to match your own expectations. Instead, all you need to feel happier is a little shift in your focus.
Embrace the pain and then take control.
The irony about accepting the situations we find ourselves in is that once we have, we are able to make decisions and take action that moves us toward the place we truly want to be. We stop feeling like a victim of circumstance and more like the captain of our own ship.
That doesn’t mean that we will get what we want every time. Life doesn’t work like that. However, coming to a place of acceptance gives us the strength and peace to deal with whatever outcome we receive, whether desired or not, and the ability to move forward rather than getting stuck in adversity.
Empowering questions we can ask ourselves include:
What outcomes do I want? Write down every result that is important to you in the situation.
What beliefs can I choose that will support me right now? Give yourself an empowering set of beliefs that help you feel hopeful in the situation.
What action can I take? Outline actions you can take today, this week, and in the next month that will move you toward your outcomes.
You can soar above adversity.
We all live with circumstances that are not ideal. Life is too short to live in frustration that things are not the way we want them to be.
Why you? Because there are important jewels you can discover in the midst of adversity that will reward you for the rest of your life. You are strong enough to embrace reality and perform the alchemy that will transform frustration into contentment and positive outcomes.