And we don’t always get to decide how things unfold. It’s not exactly in the habit of asking for our permission! It just… happens.
It’s human nature to pass judgment on the things that happen in our lives. Who hasn’t been angry at someone for something they did, or didn’t, do? Or been upset over the loss of a loved one? Or felt disappointed when something didn’t work out the way we hoped? And on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve all experienced the happiness of receiving something we really wanted. Or that warm feeling from a hug by someone special. Or the excitement when we’re looking forward to something awesome! Emotions are a lot of what makes us human.
But for the most part, the things that happen in our lives are neutral. They have only the meaning we give them. We all tend to have a story about how things ‘should’ be. Some of those stories get passed down by our family members. Others result from our life experiences. Still others are handed out by society, or the media, or the entertainment industry. Billions of dollars in products are sold every day by companies who, more than anything, are selling you their version of what life should look like. And it’s working!
We also tend to have a story about how we should be. And others are all too eager to add to it! In fact, it’s usually the people who love us most who are the biggest contributors to that story; because we want to be someone they continue to love. But even the people we don’t like have their chapters. How many of us have hidden parts of ourselves because we’ve been ridiculed, or even bullied, because of them? And then sometimes those ‘shoulds’ are polar opposites!
Misery lies in the gap between expectations and reality. And much of it comes from our tendency to personalize the things that happen in our lives.
“He shouldn’t have done that to me.”
“She should have known that would upset me.”
“I should have gotten that promotion.”
“That’s not fair (to me).”
And those stories are based on the idea that we should get what we want. Yes, it’s human nature to be disappointed, but when we let it become our story, well, how does that help? How long are you willing to leave your power in the hands of everybody else? Because, you know what? They are all doing what they feel is best for them. And chances are, they didn’t have you in mind at all. There was likely no intent, on their part, to do anything to you!
And then, when we start telling ourselves stories about us, it can become particularly destructive.
“There must be something wrong with me that these things keep happening.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not the kind of person who ever gets ahead.”
“I can’t get a good job because I’m too old/too young/not smart enough/not attractive enough/a woman/a man/etc.”
“Everybody leaves me because I am unlovable.”
Well, guess what? None of those things are true! Don’t believe me? I challenge you to find at least one story about someone who defied those same odds! This is not to make you feel bad that your life isn’t what you want it to be. It is strictly to demonstrate that the stories you are telling yourself are not true! Whoever you want to be, you have the power! YOU decide who that’s going to be!