Monday, March 21, 2016

When You Don't Get What You Want

Character is shaped and defined in the times in our lives when we don't get what we want. Part of being human is dealing with loss and disappointment. Whether you don't get in to the college of your choice, or your spouse dies prematurely, or your plans don't work out for a job, grad school, a relationship, loss is a part of our lives. There is usually no way to avoid it. All risks- including good ones, involve the potential of it not working out.

Learning how to feel and express the pain of the loss, including the sadness, anger, hurt, confusion and disappointment is healthy. Later, learning how to process the loss and grow through what happens is key to growing emotionally.

Have you ever noticed the differences in people you know who have survived and thrived despite difficulty and loss?

There are some qualities I really like that people are more likely to develop if they run into some setbacks and loss in their lives. These include being grateful rather than entitled, compassion for others, resiliency and developing perspective about what's really important. These are the unexpected gifts of working through not getting what you want.

When we can learn to stop blaming others, we grow.

When we learn to accept disappointment, work through the feelings and redirect our course and go on, we become resilient and inspire others.

When we understand loss, we develop a reverence for how fragile our lives are and appreciative for the people who truly matter.

When we realize that it is things not working out that can shapes our character, we can be made gentler and more tenderized by our experiences. We can become more sensitive to the struggles of others.

Loss, disappointment and not getting what we want are all teachers if we receive the lessons. Poet and philosopher Mark Nepo writes in his book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen (Simon and Schuster, 2012) that, "Sooner or later, everyone will face not getting what they want. How we respond to this unavoidable moment determines how much peace or agitation we will have in our lives. This is the moment that opens all others, for our acceptance of things as they are and not as would have them allows us to find our place in the stream of life. Free of our entitlements, we can discover that we are small fish in the stream and go about finding the current."

Not getting what you want? That makes you normal, and possibly better, if you let it.

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