Every single person, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity faces problems. Albeit different ones and to varying degrees. This week while reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I came across this quote:
“When we feel that we’re choosing our problems, we feel empowered. When we feel that our problems are being forced upon us against our will, we feel victimized and miserable.” (Manson, Mark).
Honestly, it reminded me of something I have said on many occasions. I absolutely hate feeling trapped (or forced like in the quote above). In the past it has been a job that I could not leave because of “x, y or z”. I could not wait to be able to do something else – anything else. Yet, when x, y or z have been resolved I was content to stay where I was. On a side note, I would like to mention that this was NOT because I was afraid of change. Mostly this contentment was because I was CHOOSING to stay and to be subjected to whatever it was that bothered me about the job or company.
When you feel stuck somewhere (job, relationship, living situation, etc.) your mentality and mindset change. Everything (well most things) that happens becomes perceived as offensive and intentionally directed at you. By making a decision to stay, you have the power. You feel empowered to keep or change things going forward. This allows your defenses to come down or relax and then you have the option to fully assess your situation.
I personally am less agitated and reactive when I am in a situation by choice – or perceived choice. One thing I tell my husband, which makes him roll his eyes, is that I am with him because I want to be, not because I have to be. I am perfectly confident that I could make it on my own. This to me is so much more meaningful than being with someone because you feel like you have to be; whether it be financially, emotionally or otherwise (for example: not believing in divorce). I want and expect the same from him. I would like him to stay with me because he wants to be with me, not because he feels obligated.
My heart soars knowing that my friends choose to stay connected to me. I am elated when family members make the decision to keep in touch because realistically blood relation doesn’t equate to actual relationships AND it shouldn’t. We live in a day and age when we can choose who to surround ourselves with. That is so important because it allows us to connect with people who share our values and let go of those who are not healthy for us.
Making sure we choose our problems – or at least how we handle the ones we did not choose (genetics, accidents, illnesses, etc.) is so important. Each problem we face we get to make a decision about how we will approach it. This includes any emotions that come with that problem or choice.
When I was faced with paralysis from the waist down and a bleak prognosis I had a choice to make: 1- Give up and accept that I would most likely not walk again. 2- Try to build strength and push through physical therapy even if I was only able to walk using a walker in the future. I was also faced with another emotional choice: 1- Give up, regress within myself and withdraw from relationships. 2- Try to stay engaged and connected to those around me.
Even if things do not get better and you are stuck with your worst case scenario you still have the power to decide how to handle it and how you treat others. This in and of itself often times is what defines a person (in my eyes) – how someone treats others when life is kicking them while they are down.
This thinking helps me get through the best and worst days. Hopefully it will at least give you something to think about. Please let me know how you feel about this approach to problems!