Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Often when life isn’t going the way you want it to, or something important goes very wrong, it’s easy to lose yourself in the situation. By that I mean your emotions reflect what’s going on. “Woe is me” or “This is awful” or “How will I manage with this” are common statements made during a rough patch. I’ve learned that when things go wrong you have 3 main choices in how to respond:

•    1. Lose yourself in the misery of the situation and let it make you feel lousy. This seems to be most common but it’s the least logical and the worst direction since the one who suffers more is you. Sinking with what happened makes you unable to take action and makes you unhappy. That in itself if a great reason not to go with this choice.

•    2. If it’s something that can be fixed, accept what happened, relax, and focus on making it right instead of getting wound up over how lousy it is. If you let the negative emotions overwhelm you, it’s hard to think straight so that you can do something positive. For example, if your computer crashes, you can cry over it or do your best to find someone who can fix it or be honest that you need to buy another. There are always options if your head is clear.

When my iBook G4 was declared to be unfixable, I cried, because they didn’t make them anymore and I loved it so much. Plus, I wasn’t expecting to have to buy a new computer so soon and didn’t have a budget for one. But I found the same one on Ebay for $300 and I’ve had it for four years. Had I nosedived into self-pity, I may not have thought to try to get a cheap used one. I asked for spiritual guidance and got one from a woman who actually brought it to me in perfect condition. She even left the software on it so it worked out as well as it could have.

•    3. If it’s something that you have no control over or that can’t be changed, relax and accept that it happened and there’s nothing you can do. Let whatever has to take its course happen. The day Time Warner Cable decided to do maintenance and shut down service in my neighborhood with no warning, I freaked at first. No phone or Internet service on a workday. And they had no idea of when it would be fixed. After a short amount of whining and moaning, I decided it was wasting my time since I couldn’t do anything about it. So I focused on doing my writing. My service didn’t come back till the next day but I stayed relaxed, knowing that getting upset over it would do me no good, and I didn’t want to feel more stress.

Since everything happens for a reason, you can look for the blessings in your problems if you don’t fall apart form them. Often the stress of the problem keeps you from noticing something good that comes from it. The computer I bought on Ebay worked better than my lemon ever did. It also had a higher operating than mine, and she left me software I didn’t have to buy. So there was a blessing in my computer going haywire. And I didn’t lose anything from my old computer, which was another big blessing.

I also found a blessing when I lost my phone and Internet service. I love to take my laptop out to write but have been limited about places with Internet service. When I told my doorman I needed a place to check email, he told me that Starbucks has free wireless. I didn’t know that as they didn’t always have it. So I went to one and sure enough, I was able to read and respond to my emails. But the biggest blessing for me was when I met up with a friend later at the café in Barnes & Noble.

I had my computer and asked my friend if she thought just maybe, they might have free wireless too. In the past, it had been for a fee. My friend said the same thing. But I tried anyway and discovered free wireless there too! That’s my favorite place to take my laptop to write so I was excited. That was a HUGE blessing for me as I don’t go there much during the week and now I can.

Get into the habit of looking for the blessings in your problems. Keep a cool head when things go wrong, see if there’s anything you can do to fix it, and if there’s not, relax and accept that this is just how it is and it will pass. Then look for the blessings in your problems. You may not notice them for a while but if you stay alert, you’ll find them!

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