28 Jul What’s Your Story: What Makes Life Hard?
You deserve to live an extraordinary life!
I recently had a conversation with a client who wanted to learn how to better navigate her life and to spend less time and energy living as a Victim. For almost 20 minutes she expressed complaints about her husband, especially about how he never expressed any appreciation for her efforts. According to her, she would give and give, while hoping for some “crumbs of gratitude and attention!” She would swallow her daily disappointments, seethe, and finally explode in a rage of resentment and criticisms. Basically, she would verbally vomit her suppressed hurt and frustration in a tsunami of attacks on his character. She thought she was just expressing herself and acting like a Navigator. But in actuality, she was still behaving as a Victim, pushing him away and increasing the likelihood that she would continue to be hurt and disappointed in the future. I spent the rest of the session helping her to recognize her negative behavior and to see that, regardless of her intentions, she was fueling her own misery and marital disappointment. I had to repeatedly point out her tendency to argue and defend, as well as the anger she was then feeling toward me. Victims do not receive feedback very well and defensive behavior is an excellent diagnostic for the Victim state of mind. I think she was relieved to finish the session and leave. I know I was!
Life does not have to be hard! Yet many of us get caught up in recurring patterns of self-inflicted pain and misery. You may have your own list of such patterns. Here are four of my favorites:
1. “He should, she should, they should……”
People do not generally wake up in the morning thinking about how to make your life miserable. They just are trying to get through the day. Disappointments and frustrations are bound to happen and it is important to learn how to deal with them and to not take them personally. Instead of thinking things like, “He should care more” or “He should show me more appreciation” or “I shouldn’t have to work so hard,” try to take a different perspective. You might instead think, “I want more appreciation from my husband… would I like a ‘Thank you’ or ‘I appreciate you cooking dinner!’ or would a hug do quite well?” Why not make a request for that behavior rather than just expecting him to do what you think he should be doing? Try something like “Hey, love, I hope you enjoyed the meal. I worked hard to make it enjoyable for you. I would love a hug and a thank you for the effort. I like it when I know you appreciate what I do.”
2. Chaotic Actions
Are you focusing on the right actions which will make your life more enjoyable? Do you know what makes you happy and gives you satisfaction? Have you figured out what actions you can take to experience more satisfaction? When you take an action, do you then ask yourself if it worked to give you more of what you want? Or, are you just shooting from the hip and reacting willy-nilly without seeing if it is hitting your target? Do you often feel confused as to why one day seems as disappointing as the day before and nothing seems to really change? It is probably because you are not saying to yourself things like “Well, that did not work out well… I wonder what else might work better.” Just start keeping score of your actions and their results. Perhaps at the end of the day, you might write down what you wanted to accomplish and whether or not you succeeded. If you do not like your “Success Average,” come up with a different action and try it out tomorrow.
“One day my ship will come in!”
“If I work hard enough, I’ll be rewarded!”
“Good things come to people who are patient!”
I really do not understand *waiting* for something to happen! Perhaps it’s due to my impatience or ADD, I’m not sure… either way, I have learned something about timing, pacing, and taking action. My ship sails every day, and my mission is to know where I am going, what I want, and to take actions that will likely lead me to success and satisfaction. To that end, I think about taking focused action in a timely fashion rather than waiting or hoping for things to works out. I don’t invest in hope, fate, or faith. I would rather take a shot at something important and see if I have hit my target. It seems to work most of the time. Even when it does not work, at least I can learn from my actions and take a different course of action next time. This is the essence of Life Navigation!
The A, B and C’s of misery: anger, blaming, and complaining. These are the ingredients for suffering. They may make for interesting drama on a TV series or movie, but they will keep you locked in a prison of victimhood and powerlessness. People who live in drama walk around encumbered by old wounds, resentments, grudges, and regrets. Welcome to the internal, never-ending movie that so many people experience every day. You don’t have to pay for a movie to see the drama… you are producing it and paying for it with your life!
These may not be your top four, but they are probably familiar to you. These patterns become a person’s “compass points,” which drive one toward misery, frustration and undue suffering. After a while, they seem so natural that a person may not even be aware that he is dominated by these entrenched patterns. They just become a way of life.
In my book “Navigating For Success,” I write about these invisible forces that drive us, and what you can do differently so that you are navigating your life in the direction you deserve. In my next post, I will share 10 ways you can make your life easier.