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SALT LAKE CITY — This week in LIFEadvice Coach Kim gives some suggestions for changing the way you feel about your life and its disappointments.
I’m just being honest, but I think you make being positive about life sound easier than it is. When your life has been as hard as mine, anger is pretty justified. My mother was horribly bad at parenting and messed us up and life has never gotten easier. I’m angry and disappointed that my life has been so hard when others have had it so easy. I read your articles and you keep talking about trusting the journey, but it’s not that easy when it always disappoints. How can I when life always lets me down?
I agree with you. It’s not that easy to feel positive when things keep going wrong.
I know firsthand how miserable, disappointing and discouraging life can be. Mine has not been an easy ride either, but a large part of our suffering is self-inflicted, in that, we are choosing to be frustrated that life didn’t meet our expectations (expectations we created that are nothing but figments of our imagination).
We made up these expectations about what our life “should be” and now we feel robbed that we didn’t get it. Is it any surprise this didn’t work? Life was never about meeting our expectations.
The answer to end our suffering does not lie in changing our situation and making it right (which usually can’t be done anyway) but in changing how we think about it. You aren’t going to feel better until you change your perspective and see your life more accurately.
I am going to help you do that by recommending you adopt a principle of truth about the nature of life: It is what it is. If it was supposed to be something else, it would be. There is perfect order in the universe and everything happens for a reason.
Everything from the smallest insect to the largest planet in this galaxy does what it does, when it does, for a reason. The entire universe is a system of order, beauty and purpose. Do you really think your life is an exception to that? Do you believe you (a one-of-a-kind, amazing, and eternal soul) are less important; that you are left to be kicked around by random circumstances with no meaning or purpose to any of it? Could your life really be a bunch of bad-luck accidents that mean nothing and serve no purpose?
I just can’t find truth in that idea. It makes no sense.
Not when I believe that you are loved, valued, divine and irreplaceable. It makes more sense that the whole universe was created to serve you. That this entire universe is here to facilitate your learning and growth.
With this mindset you could accept and embrace “what is” and spend your time looking for the lessons and the blessings instead of complaining about, resisting and regretting that things aren’t different. You must change your expectations.
Even William Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache."
Expectations are really nothing but thoughts and illusions you made up and to which you have become overly attached. They aren’t real. You must let go of your expectations so you can make peace with life as it is.
I recommend that you get some paper and write down all the expectations you had for your life (write every small thing you expected to be different than it is). Then tie that paper to a balloon and let it float away up into the sky and let those expectations all go.
Decide to embrace what your life is and stop suffering over made-up illusions. This doesn’t mean you give-up working to make things better, though. You will keep working on improving things, while at the same time understanding that you are where you are for a reason.
In this place you can accept people as they are and forgive them for being imperfect and disappointing you. They are in your life as teachers. This means your mother may not have been a perfect mother, but she was the perfect mother for you, for some reason. At least you have the option of seeing it that way.
Here are four things you can do to change how you feel about your life:
1. Accept responsibility for creating the expectation that your life should have been different than it is. You created this illusion so you can un-create it. Choose a mindset based in truth that produces less self-pity and suffering. You are here to learn and grow, this is not a vacation. Live in optimism that things will get better, but also in trust that what is — is perfect for some reason too.
2. Practice gratitude. If you are going to compare your life with others at least make sure you compare yourself with those who have less, or have it worse than you, not just those who have more. There are plenty on both sides. Choose gratitude for what you do have, and count your blessings daily.
3. Accept there is meaning and purpose behind every experience. See if you can list 10 positives that the bad situations in your life have created in the world or in you. Look for how your experiences have improved you. Choose to focus on being a better person not a bitter one.
4. Understand that your journey doesn’t define you or have any effect on your value. Your experiences are locations on your journey. They are classes you were signed up for, but they don’t have any bearing on “who you are” or your value. A hard life doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough or loved enough. It just means you signed up for some hard classes. You are not being punished with these classes. They are here to teach you things, but your value isn't on the line.
The process to forgive life for disappointing your is the same as the process to forgive another person. In the end you must make one simple decision: Do you want to live with bitterness, regret, rejection, resentment, judgment, criticism and pain or do you want to live in love, trust, acceptance, forgiveness and peace?
Every moment of every day you must make this choice and make it carefully, because whatever you send out — you get to live in.
I know it’s not easy, but it is that simple.
Just keep thinking about it.
*Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in overcoming fear. She offers a free webinar every Tuesday night with info on her website. Read her every Monday morning on ksl.com.**