One day many years ago, I was packing up my clothes to move out of a house that I had been renting with a girlfriend. We were breaking up and I was deeply depressed. This scenario had happened all too often in my life, another failed relationship. The effort it took to pack up my stuff felt crushing and immense. At one point I sat on my bed, despondent, and unable to continue.
Just at that moment the phone rang. It was a healer, an older woman who I had been seeing for some physical problems. Hearing the anguish in my voice, she asked me what was wrong. I told her and finished with a pleading and desperate question: “This is not the first time this has happened, what is wrong with me?”
She said, “There is nothing wrong with you, dear. We all have certain challenges that we must deal with. Life is hard sometimes, but you’ll get through this.” I did get through it, and I moved into a happier and more peaceful place, both literally and emotionally.
Life is hard sometimes. But here’s the important thing to remember: Just because life is hard doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you.
There is a book by David Richo called The Five Things We Cannot Change ( and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them.) The five things are:
- Everything changes and ends.
- Things do not always go according to plan.
- Life is not always fair.
- Pain is a part of life.
- People are not loving and loyal all the time.
So much insanity and deep unhappiness comes from believing that life should be different from what it is. And when it doesn’t turn out the way we think it should, it’s easy to feel that we are completely to blame. We can be so invested in “doing it right” and “looking good” that when we fall short of our own or other’s expectations we make it mean that there is something wrong with us, that we are no good, or that we are in need of fixing.
What does it mean when life is painful, when the plan falls apart, when people betray you? Well, first and foremost, it means you’re alive and probably human. It might also mean that there are things you need to learn. Better choices you need to make. More careful planning. Greater consideration about who you decide to associate with. How do you learn this stuff? Well, mainly by screwing up. Life’s a joker, ain’t she?
I don’t feel too bad when my car breaks down and I’m unable to fix it on my own. It’s not a skill I’ve acquired and I’m not really interested in learning. But when the money is not coming in as fast as I want or need, the “I suck” conversation comes up pretty quick! But it doesn’t mean that I suck, it just means I need to learn more about creating wealth. I can be OK with that, and then make the choice to learn. But it’s hard to be OK with “I’m not earning what I think I should earn, so there must be something wrong with me”.
Once we accept that life is hard, once we accept and embrace the five things we cannot change, then the only question is “What am I going to do about it?” It’s a much better question than “What is wrong with me?” or “Why is this happening to me?”
Of course, you can always answer the question “What am I going to do about it?’ with “Nothing! That’s why I suck!” or I don’t know how.., I can’t.., I’m afraid..,It’s too hard… But these responses are not very empowering.
Let me suggest some powerful responses to the question “What am I going to do about it?” when life gets hard.
- I’ll do what I can do.
- I can’t do anything, so I’ll accept that this is going to be tough and I’ll just get tougher.
- I can’t do anything, so I’ll just have myself a good cry and carry on.
- Nothing. I choose powerfully to do nothing until I choose to do something. I’m willing to accept the consequences of doing nothing.
- Who can I ask for help?
- How can I learn to deal with this effectively?
- A challenge! Cool. I love challenges.
- What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
- Life is getting hard. Interesting. I’ll use this experience to: write my blog/song/book/paint my masterpiece/help other people going through what I’m going through.
- Are you kidding? I’m a frickin’ Master of the Universe! These puny challenges are nothing compared to the stuff that’s going to come up when I really get rolling.
Life will be hard sometimes regardless of what you believe about yourself. However, if deep down inside you carry the belief that you are up to dealing with life when it gets hard, then you can turn “Life is hard” into “That’s life”.
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p.s. If you’re stuck out on the limb of “life is hard/there’s something wrong with me”, give me a call and I’ll talk you down with a free half hour phone coaching session. (This is in line with the powerful response “Who can I ask for help?”) This offer is for the first five people who call or email.Ted A. Moreno Personal/Small Business Coach Certified Hypnotherapist www.TedMoreno.com (626) 826-0612