Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fighting discontentment

by timarai via Flickr
Sometimes when I’m feeling emotionally and mentally lazy, I find that it is easy for me to slip into feeling discontent with my life. I might come across a picture on Facebook or hear someone’s news about something awesome happening in his or her life and I feel a duel happiness for him or her and what I can only describe as a sad jealousy for myself. While it’s wonderful that this person went somewhere great or is happy in his or her relationship or landed a lucrative job, I can’t help but compare his or her life events with my own. There are times when I feel this way without even being prompted by a particular news item. I’m just in a lousy mood and think that if I did X or if Z would happen to me or if I didn’t have the past that I do, then I would be so much happier.

I say I’m prone to feeling this way when I’m lazy because when I’m on top of my game, I tend to approach jealousy-inducing situations with a clear, strong mind that either stops me from feeling sorry for myself from the start or enables me to easily talk myself out of being a sorry sack. When I’m lazy and don’t feel like putting in the mental effort of critically approaching the situation, that’s when I fall in danger of boo hooing.

From what I can tell, this is an incredibly easy trap for people to fall into. I think it’s simply human nature to want what we can’t have and to think that the grass is always greener. I think it’s especially easy for folks who had a trying past to feel as though they have a disadvantage when it comes to finding a satisfying life. As a child of a hoarder, I missed out on having a happy childhood and will seemingly always have insecurities about my ability to keep a well organized, stable life.

In order to keep myself from wallowing in self-pity and instead find some semblance of happiness and contentedness with my lot in life, I try to keep the following in mind:

  • This quote from George Bernard Shaw gives me a better focus regarding those who have lives I admire: "People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." Very few things are handed to you in life. Chances are, that aspect I admire about someone else was cultivated. That person intentionally spent time on that part of their life. If I want what they’ve got, I also have to put in the effort.
  • Comparing yourself to others is a slippery slope. Everyone lives their life at different speeds and that is a-okay. Everyone has different talents and, again, that is a-okay. Focus on what you’ve got and become the best person that you can be. Everyone else is already taken, right? (On the flip side, sometimes learning about someone who has it worse than we do can help us gain a little focus and make us realize that maybe we don’t have it so bad after all.) 
  • It's dangerous not seeing the whole picture. It’s easy to fixate on the often one sided view shown to us on social media and even sometimes in person. We see the wedding pictures, but not the marital struggles and fights. We see the smiley baby pictures, but not the sacrifices made to raise the child. Life has many angles and it should be examined from all of them. 
  • Pay attention to when you feel particularly crappy. I’ve noticed that when I’m looking at Pinterest and Facebook aimlessly, I often start getting starry eyed and wonder why I don’t have a bedroom that looks like that or why I don’t have a handsome, creative husband. Stay away from these triggers when you’re already flirting with the entrance to the rabbit hole of self-pity. Make sure you’re in a good, positive mindset before venture into these temptations. Having a purpose for perusing also helps: if I know I’m looking for yummy recipes on Pinterest, I’m less likely to fall into a blackhole. 

How about you? What do you do to lift yourself out of feeling sorry for yourself when you feel like you don’t stack up?


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