One day I just got tired of all the problems. I was miserable about the way my life turned out and all the problems other people were causing me. I started reflecting on how things had become so miserable and what I could have done to change my circumstances. Then a harsh reality set in, an uncomfortable realization that 95% of all my problems had been self inflicted. The series of choices I had made, sugar coated with excuses, had caused a chain of events that eventually ate up more than half my life and polluted any chance of a happy or peaceful existence.
Could it really be that my misery was my own fault? What about all those people that had said and done mean things to me? Surely they had some culpability in my failed attempt at life, or did they?
As it turned out, after some reflecting and brutal honesty with myself I realized that almost all of those mean things, and mean people, were a direct result of my own choices.
I chose to respond and react to situations and circumstances in ways that in turn caused others to respond and react in their own ways that almost always caused me grief and misery.
How did I get this way? Well, I learned it. I watched others all through my life react to situations and circumstances with emotion rather than basing their response on logic and rationale. No, I’m not talking about my parents as the main culprits here, it was everyone. Very few people in my life had that ability, my dad was one, my grandfather was the other one.
If you ever get a chance to people watch, go do that for a day and watch how much emotion is put into every person as they go about their business. The airport used to be fun for that but because our entire country reacted to a serious situation out of emotions, we can’t go past security without an airline ticket now. However, the bus station or train station will give you your fill of an over emotional society that’s screaming “look at me, notice me, love me because I’m miserable.”
Sound harsh? Does that offend you? Well, how are you going to respond to me? Because your choice will determine the outcome of something this simple. You could choose to simply shake your head and scroll on past, or you can get pissed, say foul mouthed, hateful things out of spite and in turn you’ll get a few well chosen jabs about your weight, looks, or your mommy that have now stolen your peace and possibly ended a friendship or closed the door to a potentially life long friendship over a simple choice of acting on emotion.
Now play out that scenario in a serious situation, and you can really cause some misery. Add a few people who’ll hear your whining and then spread their own version around the community and you have self inflicted misery and chaos my friend.
How we speak to people and how we choose to respond to circumstances can dramatically reduce our own misery. If we can all learn to start responding to one another better, maybe We can start speaking to and treating one another with a little more respect. I know it sounds backwards, but it has to start with someone and you can’t control the other persons tone or emotions, you can only control your response. It sounds simple, but it ain’t easy. I’m still a work in progress but I must say that life has become more manageable, not to mention that that list of people I know who have control of their own emotions has grown considerably.
I decided to change, so I made a plan to help myself. First, when making major decisions or decisions that will affect other people, I seek wise counsel from two or three people I respect and who I know won’t respond out of emotion. This forces me to take the time to consider other views I may have not considered. It also allows me to bring an issue or situation to a neutral party so I’m not emotional when discussing the circumstances.
Next, I pray about it and ask that the Lord to show me anything I may need to consider before or anything I’ve missed and to give me the wisdom and guidance to make a good decision.
Finally, on day three I reevaluate everything and make a choice or decision. Some things I’ve given a week to decide, and some I’ve waited as long as a couple months before making a choice that could make a whole lot of lives, including my own, very miserable.
Now, I’m making decisions and choices that are leading me down a better path. People actually ask my opinion about things, and some even come to me for advice.
Every choice we make has the potential to change, alter, uplift, or destroy those around us, which in turn causes self inflicted misery.
Stop blaming others for your misery and do some soul searching, you may find a better life just around the bend.