Life is Full of Disappointments
That doesn’t have to mean you will be ultimately disappointed with your life. You may be extremely frustrated with your husband (or wife!) because, for example, no matter how often you explain that it is very important to you that he (or she) _______, he repeatedly “forgets” or just doesn’t “care enough” to do this for you. You may be extremely hurt by his unwillingness to stop playing video games long enough to _______. You may feel very unloved and unappreciated as a result. You have done your best to communicate effectively, but you’re still married to an engineer who does not understand the importance of Valentine’s Day, and you feel very alone and hopeless and frankly despairing. Or maybe you’re still married to someone who acts like having sex with you is the last thing they want to do.
You may have been told it’s up to you to communicate what you want. …no one can read your mind. …it’s your responsibility to train others how to treat you. …you are the architect of your own life. You may have even been told not to “settle”.
How other people treat you is NOT your responsibility. Don’t take that on, please.
Your husband may be the most unromantic person on the planet, but he is able to figure out how to turn on the coffee maker with the computer. He screws up on Valentine’s Day. That’s not your fault. Even if you really, really want your five-year-old child to stop picking his nose in social situations, and even if you remind him to not do that before you are in a group, he does it. Does he do it because he doesn’t love you, or doesn’t care what you say? NO! He does it because he’s five and that’s what five-year-olds do. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. Engineers gotta…do whatever it is engineers do.
Does this mean your relationship is doomed?
Are you going to have to get divorced and find someone else? No, it does not. There is a solution. Be kind to yourself and realize you can’t make other people do anything. That really is a frustrating job — to be responsible for what other people do or do not do. Resign immediately! That will drive you crazy, and that’s definitely not being kind to yourself. So, be kind to yourself. Figure out what that looks like for you. Your needs matter. Your wants matter. Your feelings matter. You matter. Take care of yourself. It’s not selfish in a bad way to do that. It’s really being kind to yourself. And it’s very necessary.
Cultivate a life of gratitude.
This is for you. This is a very different approach from trying to meet your own needs and “being the architect of your own life”. Instead of attempting to affect a specific outcome, gratitude helps us notice the gifts that are already there. Be grateful for your morning coffee, a soft breeze on a hot day, beautiful flowers, etc. And when you have experienced the relief from disappointment and frustration that gratitude brings, you can try some “advanced” gratitude. Be grateful for that problem that threatened to ruin everything, because it pulled something out of you that happiness would not have touched – strength, wisdom, maturity, and courage. The beauty of life does not exist without these.