It happens every day in a thousand different ways. My spouse doesn’t give me the answer I’m looking for. A colleague disagrees with me. Traffic is slow. I trip on a shoelace. It rains and I’ve forgotten my umbrella. I want things to go my way. If I’m honest, I even expect that things will go my way. But they never do. At least not fully. And it sucks. It is annoying, frustrating, and sometimes downright painful. So what is the proper response?
Like the doofus I am, I often make matters worse. I act out like a spoiled child. I scream and throw a fit. It’s as if I’m thinking if I don’t get my way, I’m going to make sure nobody gets there’s either!
Misery and Company
The misery I encounter forms because there is a gap between my expectations and the reality I face. I can’t seem to escape the suffering. Not only so, I can’t seem to contain it. I spew my pain onto others, demanding they join my misery.
The effect is a toxicity to my relationships and my work. I become the cause of the pain I loathe. I give as much as I take (something I too often brag about). But deep down, I don’t want to play this game anymore. I want to get off of this cycle of suffering. Not just for my sanity, but for my character development, I need to figure out how to react when I don’t get my way.
Ironically, the first step toward a better response is to allow myself an honest one. When I try to do ‘what I’m supposed to do” in the moment, I feel as though I am biting my lip.
I can’t help but feel the way I feel. The solution is not to numb the emotion, but to experience it in its proper place. This begins with honesty.
Taking ownership of how I feel is so vital. To not excuse it and name it, warts and all. Emotions are an alarm clock and I need to let it go off long enough to know what is going on.
Secondly, I need to take a deep breath and figure out why I am emotional. What value is being threatened? My emotions begin the process, but they don’t have to run the show. I can let them go as soon as they’ve been felt properly.
The next step is to realize what is happening and to remind myself that it is not the end of the world. It is annoying. It is unexpected. But it is an opportunity.
A deep breath allows me to see the opportunity, to regain a sense of control, ownership, and responsibility. It allows me to be an active member of my own journey and move forward past the disappointment.
Too often I allow myself to be held hostage by circumstances or other people. I’ve got a life to live and not getting my way is just a part of it.
When things don’t go my way, it is a trigger. It ignites something. But just because a fuse is lit does not mean I have to inevitably explode. It is up to me to make my choices. Let the fuse burn or snuff it out.
The key to life is not what happens to me. It’s not even how I feel about it in the immediate aftermath. What is most important for determining the person I am going to be is the choice I make in response to the stimuli presented to me.