Q. I have a very difficult time dealing with disappointment. I am determined to make things work even when many obstacles are placed in my path. But after several failed relationships, friendships that don’t last and employment struggles, maybe I need to change this behavior. Where do I start?
A. First, put down your hammer. It is time to stop hammering the square peg into the round hole. It won’t fit no matter how hard or how long you pound it.
We don’t always have control with people and situations in our lives. Even when we think our plan or ideas are the best, sometimes they do not win the opinions of others.
What is it about you that creates the need to control others? Where did this belief come from? If you ever took a psychology class you learned that “all behavior is purposeful and has meaning.” All behavior is an offshoot from some experience that we had as children. You developed the need to control situations and people even though this appears to create distress for you.
The positive for your at this point is your insight into the problem. You are not blaming others for life not working out for you. Tolerating disappointments and not reacting to them can be challenging if you do not have much practice. No one enjoys being disappointed. But some people have better coping abilities. If you continue to use your hammer in an attempt to “get your way” you will probably suffer more.
Sometimes the plans we write for ourselves are not meant to be. And that can be a good thing. The job you thought was going to be your dream job, the person you knew was your soul mate or the house you planned on buying did not materialize. You are disappointed but is it possible that something better could be waiting for you.
If we can be in a more mindful place then these life disappointments might not be so devastating. If we are able to tell ourselves that this was just not meant to be. Our plan needs to be rewritten. Plant seeds, water them and step back. Live life more fully and do not try to control every detail. Sometimes good things happen when we are not trying to make them happen. Then you know it is real.
I suggest you invest time in counseling, discover where your control issues come from, begin to practice mindfulness and put your hammer out of reach. Maybe one day, you will throw it away.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
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