What I do when life’s not going ‘my way’

Every once in a while I fall into a funk. I start feeling as if life’s not fair. I start comparing my accomplishments with that of someone else’s. And I lose sight of my blessings. Inwardly, I turn into a blubbering mess.

It happens. And when it does, I don’t always respond to those feelings in a way that is productive and transformational. Sometimes I let myself wallow in self-pity. I’ve even fallen into bouts of depression, and I struggled to dig myself out of that pit. 

I’m certainly not proud of those moments. Yet at the same time, they make me more human.

I’m flawed, and I’m not afraid to admit it. If I were a product in a store, you’d probably find me in the discounted section for being defective. But that’s OK. I’m sure I’ll be in good company because no one’s perfect.

The truth is, I’m living a fortunate life. I have my health, a loving family, a great career, a home, and friends that I care about and that care about me, among so many other things. I could go on and on. I have nothing to complain about.

Looking back, I’m confident that the strength of my faith, my resilience, and my character is tested and renewed in those times of darkness. I’m also reminded that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, but that you get back up. Again. And again.

Why do we sometimes struggle with feelings of angst and discontent in the way that I described above? Why does peace and joy become elusive when dissatisfaction hits the scene?

 And how can we overcome it?

When I start feeling as if life’s not going “my way” and an overwhelming sense of discontentment settles in, I know something’s wrong. It’s time for a reality check.

Those momentary lapses of discontentment have over the years taught me the importance of counting your blessings, especially when clouds are gray. When you think you’ve got it bad. Someone else has got it even worse, guaranteed.

I really believe that at the heart of discontentment are lies. Lies we tell ourselves about what life “should” or “ought” to be. Lies that other well-meaning people unknowingly tell us to make us feel better. Lies thrust upon us by unseen forces.

We set ourselves up for failure when we start expecting everything’s supposed to go our way — when we want it, how we want it. But this ain’t Burger King, y’all.

Here’s how you can overcome

When you’re feeling discontent, it’s important to admit it openly. That’s the first step. Understand that it’s a weakness. It doesn’t mean that YOU are weak, but that you’re suffering at the moment.

Think of discontentment as an ailment, like the common cold. 

There are ways to easily treat the symptoms. But you have to be willing and diligent about uncovering the root of its origin. In the case of a cold, if not  properly treated, could escalate to a sinus infection or pneumonia. Likewise, discontentment could quickly morph into something more dangerous and life-threatening in the spiritual and mental sense.

That said, your second step is to determine the source of your discontent. Are you lonely? Dissatisfied with your career? Feeling stuck? In plain terms, write it down. Let go of unrealistic expectations.

Third, list your:

  • accomplishments,
  • your unique and special qualities,
  • what you have in common with other people/characteristics that connects you to the human race,
  • what goodwill you’ve done lately,
  • the challenges you’ve overcome over the years, and
  • details about the people with which you are closest.

Now sit back and take in the details of that list. Be thankful. Admire nature. Go for a walk. You have a full and beautifully varied life. That’s something to celebrate. Those tough times? They’ve only made you stronger.

Life is colorful. The road may be rocky at times, but it’s a life worth living. You’ve only got one shot at this thing called life. When your feet falter — and indeed they will — make sure to rise up. Again. And again.