I have never met anyone who had their life mapped out, and it went according to plan. Not one person. I have friends and family who always knew what they wanted to “be” when they grew up, and followed their dreams with their career, but I have NEVER met anyone whose life went according to plan. You know why? There are too many variables! You can have all the plans you want, you can have all your dreams too, but sadly not all of them will come to pass. You never know who you are going to meet and perhaps marry, you never know if you can have kids or not (until you try!) you never know what job you may end up in or where it may take you, you never know what kind of family you inherit with marriage. There are so many variety of variables!
LEARN TO BE REALISTIC ABOUT DISAPPOINTMENT
To be realistic, you must accept that more than half of your plans and dreams will probably fall apart, and your life will not go as planned. Maybe not half, but many many many plans are just not going to come to fruition. Some we will have no control over, and some we may have. What you need to do is learn to be flexible, and make changes to your plan, and move on, instead of staying stuck. Disappointment is horrible because we have to live with it. But if we wallow in self-pity too long, we become victims, and that is a terrible place to reside. Here’s an analogy: On one side of the street, there is a brand new hotel, but on the other side is a broken down hotel. If you had a choice, would you really go live in the broken down hotel, where nothing worked, causing you continual frustration and anger? That is where self pity will take you to live. Here is another analogy. Think of two cars. One is a new Jaguar (or put your favourite car here) and one is a broken down hunk of junk. If given keys for both cars, which one are you going to choose? The new one, of course! But – if you choose to harbour your disappointment and anger because your life didn’t go as planned, you’re choosing the broken down hunk of junk that won’t be able to drive you anywhere. It can only sit there, and look forlorn. Seriously. Think about it. Think about it hard. Think about it enough to make yourself DO something about it, and leave the run-down shoddy hotel, and leave behind the broken car. Move forward on to new adventures, in a NEW place, with NEW hopes and dreams. What you think of, you can do.
LET IT GO
Yup, you’ve heard that a million and one times. If you’ve watched the Disney movie Frozen too many times, you might be tired of hearing “let it go”. But the point is – if you don’t learn how to let things go, then you will always be stuck in the broken down car, living in the run-down hotel. Yuck! How do you let go? By learning how to forgive, and letting the pain from those memories fade. Takes steps to overcome your disappointment when life doesn’t go as planned.
I had some pretty specific goals myself growing up. I knew I wanted to be a piano teacher. I worked very hard to get my ARCT in piano, and I began teaching lessons at age nineteen. I also wanted to get married, and have four children, two boys and two girls. Jakob Dennis, Jesse Erik, Lacie Natalia, and Jorjina Alexis. I wanted to own property, with big tall colourful maples going up on either side of the driveway. I wanted to have a summer cottage by a lake. I wanted a hot tub, and gazebo in the backyard. I wanted to write novels, and compose music. I wanted to make tons of money and be able to retire and travel the world, like my grandparents did. I wanted a husband who loved me, unconditionally. I wanted to live on Vancouver Island. I wanted to have tons of grandchildren, and spoil them, and take them out on dates and have sleepovers, like my grandparents did for me and my sisters.
MY LIFE PLANS WENT SERIOUSLY AWRY
What I didn’t count on was losing my dad when I was 25 years old to a drunk driver the first year I was married. I didn’t count on having an ectopic pregnancy, losing twins, and almost dying. I didn’t count on getting divorced. I didn’t count on losing my home and vehicle, and having to start from scratch. I didn’t count on being a single mom. I didn’t count on getting remarried. I didn’t count on my new husband’s family and the dynamics it brought. I didn’t count on the pain and suffering of broken relationships. I didn’t count on someone seeking revenge from someone who hated us. I didn’t count on the pain in my sister’s life as she went through divorce too. I didn’t count on my son moving out for two years to live with his father. I didn’t count on my mother being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and dying. I didn’t count on my stepdad having to move back to the States after my mom died. I didn’t count on losing both of my in-laws in less than five years apart. I didn’t count on my hubby losing his job. I didn’t count on getting fired from a tyrant boss. I didn’t count on my hubby being rear-ended and totalling our truck, having to get a new one. I didn’t count on one of our close friends getting cancer and dying in his forties. I didn’t count on my stepson and his wife and four of our grandchildren moving more than 14 hours away. I could write more, but you get the gist. Pain. My life has been full of disappointment, and definitely lots of pain. But what I can say is this. I have given my pain and suffering to God, and asked him to carry it for me. It’s too heavy for me. I’ve also worked through forgiveness. You need to forgive, in order to heal. You cannot possibly heal and move on in your life, if you are stuck in anger and revenge, or worse, self pity. I can honestly say that I’m happy, healthy, and optimistic! No matter what I’ve faced so far, I’ve faced it with God, and he has held me in his hands. He has kept me going. I rely on him for strength. I didn’t just bounce back from all these things, but what I have done is forgiven, focused on the positive, and have chosen every day to be happy, no matter what happens.
YOU AND I ARE THE SAME
How are we the same? We both have pain, suffering, and disappointment. There isn’t one of you reading this who doesn’t have some sort of family drama going on. There isn’t one of you reading this who doesn’t have some sort of financial stress. There isn’t one of you reading this who doesn’t have relationship issues. We all have the same things going on, but in different packages. Bottom line though – it creates the same feelings and emotions in us. Pain. Pain. Pain. Disappointment. Loss. Tragedies happen all the time, and we have to learn how to deal with it. Life will never go the way we want it to, because we are not living in a perfect world. There is no such thing as a perfect person. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. There is no such thing as a perfect job. There is no such thing as a perfect child. HA! (I heard you laughing) There will always be something, or someone who will cause pain. If it’s not your spouse, it’s your boss. If it’s not your kid, it’s your mother-in-law. You know what I mean. I’m pointing this out, because it’s important that we are kind to one another, because we have no idea of what’s going on in another person’s life, but yet we KNOW that there is some type of pain. Even if you think you know someone with the perfect family, believe me, it’s probably a façade. People tend to hide behind masks. Some keep their drama close to their heart. Others spill the beans all over Facebook. Show some empathy, and always, always be kind to others, because truly, they are just like you, facing the same things you are.
YOU CAN LEARN TO BE HAPPY BY CONTROLLING WHAT YOU THINK
It shouldn’t matter when your life doesn’t go as planned. You can choose to be happy in life even if it didn’t go the way you wanted by choosing your thoughts. What you think about will dictate how you live. I would think all of us want to be happy. It won’t come from a new car, or a new job, or a million dollars. Happiness is an inside job. You can choose to stay disappointed, or you can choose to change directions and do something else instead. We all have choices, no-one can make us do anything we don’t want to do. No-one can make you forgive. No-one can make you drink coffee black. The point is – you are in control of yourself, and your life, even when life doesn’t go as planned. Even when tragedy strikes, you can still control what goes on in your head. We will all take different amounts to time to get over things, trust me. I went through my divorce, and for two years I was stressed and felt like everyone was talking about me. Being a Christian meant you never got divorced – or so I was taught. It’s hard to shake off the feelings of guilt. I still believe God hates divorce, because he knows it is so painful, but I do know for a fact that he loves me, cares for me, and forgives me, even though I’m divorced and remarried. I serve a loving God, not a judgemental, you sinned, so I hate you now God. Phew!
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GET OVER?
We all have something we are pining about. We all have something we think back and grieve about. The should have, could have, would haves. We all have those thoughts, but not necessarily all the time. Sometimes there is a trigger that makes us look back, but it’s best to learn how to keep moving forward, so we don’t get stuck in our past. What you do not want is to end up in your last years of life facing regret. You cannot change the past, no amount of being sad or wishing you had done something differently will change it. Here is what Erma Bombeck wrote about what she would do if she could live her life over again:
WHEN TRAUMA HAPPENS
It’s so sad that when trauma happens, so many couples end up breaking up and divorcing. Usually it’s because one, or even both can’t get over the “I should have been there, if only I had said no, if I had only I had…..if only you had…….” This is a terrible pity party pool to fall into, because the deep end is bottomless. You cannot beat yourself up about something that happens in life, or point fingers. Even if it is your fault, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because it has already happened. It’s over. Take responsibility, take the blame, and then forgive yourself when you are ready. No amount of beating yourself up about it will change anything. All it will do is destroy you. You also need to learn to not point fingers, even if something is someone else’s fault. Yes, they made a costly mistake, but staying angry is a much worse mistake. Your anger will slowly poison you, and only you, not the person who caused the pain. Learn how to change your thoughts and stop blaming and or finger pointing. Visit a counsellor if you need to. All of us are capable of changing our thought patterns, but sometimes we need help to get started. We also need God. So many people will fail without his help. We need God to lean on, and let him carry our troubles. God cares about you, and all your struggles. God loves each and every one of us, and it hurts him to see us in pain. He’s always there when you need him. He’s your shelter in a storm. He is our rock and refuge, and the one we need to run to in each and every storm of life.
GOD’S PLAN VERSUS OUR PLANS
This picture makes me laugh, because it shows how crazy life really is. God doesn’t plan for us to have disappointments and sorrows, he just knows ahead of time it’s going to happen. God will always bring something good out of it. You can learn and grow, or you can choose to stay stuck and bitter. Life will never go according to plan your whole life, but maybe some parts will be good! You might end up finding that perfect job and staying at it until you retire! But you may have other bumps along the way. All of us have a different plan, but what we CAN all learn to do is give up the expectation of a perfect life. Make plans, but be flexible. Make plans, but leave room for change. Make plans, but allow things to happen. Make plans, but don’t freak out if/when they don’t work out. Make plans, but make OTHER plans just in case life doesn’t go according to plan. Sound good?
BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
Great advice! Because if you are ready for anything, then it won’t matter what comes your way. You will be ready to deal with it. You can plan ahead of time what you will do if you have to deal with disappointment. Life is all about choices. If you think you are stuck, it’s YOU who glued yourself in place. Not anybody else. You cannot point fingers and say, “but so and so ruined my life”. No, they did not. No-one on earth has that kind of power. Nope. Even if you grew up in a family with crappy mean parents, they haven’t ruined your life. They may have caused some hurt, but they haven’t ruined anything. Get rid of the word ruined – if you fall into the trap of “my life is ruined” you will never be successful, or be able to move on past your hurt. You will always see yourself as a victim. Instead, think of the past as roadblocks, but now you are past them. You may have been stuck in a rotten family growing up, but when you move out, you’re all on your own. No more roadblocks. You only put yourself behind the roadblock again when you complain that your life is ruined because of your childhood. Get some help, get some counselling, learn how to forgive, and MOVE PAST those roadblocks that are only created in YOUR mind by your thoughts. Getting stuck in victim mentality is a terrible thing. Changing your pattern of thoughts is hard work, but it can be done. You just have to WANT to change your thoughts, and once you do you will be able to move forward. You need to learn what to do when life doesn’t go as planned.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS
Refuse to allow your brain to rehash painful memories. Refuse to allow your brain to call yourself names. Refuse to allow your brain to think about revenge. Refuse to allow your brain to dive into self pity. Refuse to allow yourself to say “my life is ruined”. Refuse to allow your brain to continually go to the past. You are in charge, your brain is powerful and it will do anything you tell it to. So – learn how to tell it to stop. Don’t get stuck in victim mentality. Learn how to forgive. Get some help if you need help. Start telling yourself positive affirmations, and believe it.
LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE – GO ENJOY IT
Life is meant to be enjoyed. There are so many things we have to bring us joy. Family, pets, food, vacations, careers, friends, fashion, travelling, vehicles. But, you will never experience happiness and true joy, if you are staying in the broken down hotel with your rust bucket junk heap. Give up on the self- pity, give up on the negative thoughts, and retrain your brain. You CAN do it!