Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

One of my blog readers brought up a point that I thought that I would address on my blog.  The point was more of a pondering related to what choices someone makes when life deals you a blow.  Man, I've had that happen.  Not lately, but when it has happened, one goes through several stages of emotions before arriving at the outcome.

When something bad happens, one can choose to wallow in self-pity and blame everyone and everything else.  Sometimes, someone else is truly at fault.  But the situation is what it is and you have to deal with it.

Unfortunately, I observe all too often that people stop at the stage of blaming others and continue to dwell on the "they did this to me" position, taking things very personally.  Then wishing ill on "them" and crafting ideas to get back at "them" while really doing nothing to change the current state of affairs.

Certainly, when I have been dealt a blow that I feel was undeserved, unwarranted, or just plain wrong, I have expressed emotions about how I feel.  I am human.  I get hurt -- sometimes too easily.

But if life has taught me anything, it is that revenge is best served by living well.  Instead of wallowing in blaming others, I make lemonade out of lemons.  That is an American expression by turning matters around to a positive rather than a negative.

I guess that is how I am wired and how I was raised:  not to let bad things get me down for too long.  Plus, I credit my partner and my family for not letting me get that way.  From listening to me rant, then reminding me that I am "better than that," to asking me to tell them what I will do about it, their encouragement helps me find a positive way of dealing with a negative situation.

Sometimes it is not easy.  Sometimes I feel that I have been truly wronged, and that "they" are total assholes who need a proverbial kick-in-the-butt.  But I also realize that sometimes things happen for reasons that I am not fully aware of, or due to politics, or that I am not the universally well-loved guy that I make myself out to be.  Yeah, there are some people out there who don't like me, and never will, and who look for ways to make me uncomfortable.  That happens in real life, in real jobs, and in the real world.  Life stinks sometimes.

But the outcome doesn't have to be crap.  I have learned that if you focus on the negative and look for ways to spread the negativity by making lives miserable of those who have made your life (temporarily) miserable, then you are only dwelling in everything that is bad -- for your psyche, soul, and sense of self-worth.  Bad-breeds-bad, negative-breeds-negative.  One can lose his mind and his soul by continuing to let this happen.

Instead, I stop, look, and listen to my expressions of how I am feeling.  I begin with one step.  I ask myself, "what is one thing I can do positive for the day?"  Likely, for me, it is finding a way to help someone else.  Making a phone call to a senior bud asking, "how are you?" or "I have to go to the grocery store, and I would like some company."  Seldom do they refuse.  I find that by being in a position of helping someone else eases my tension and negative feelings.  I deliberately choose NOT to tell the other person about how I am feeling because it results in a non-ending discourse of "woe is me."

I begin with what I can do to relieve my tension by focusing on someone else for a change.  It's not "all about me."

Depending on how bad the situation was, I may continue to do this "one-step-at-a-time" thing for days or weeks.  Then, with the passage of time and its ability to heal-by-distance, I reassess and evaluate, "where do I go from here?"

My next step is to write down these steps: Network here.  Update my profile there.  Discuss professional activities with X, Y, and Z.  Put in a public speaking proposal for a professional conference.  Sign up to testify before our local bodies politic (there is always something to testify about!)  Build something.  Fix something on our house or one of my rental properties -- or better yet, for one of my legion of senior pals.  Exercise more (such as list how many days this week I will walk 5 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles).

I will make a list of positive things I can do for myself.  I do not change my other "duties" such as my regular care for my aunt, my partner, and my senior pals.  I just make sure that I have a list of positive, focused, accomplishable and measurable activities that I can check off and say, "things are better for me because I have done this, that, and the other thing."

Life can be rough.  You have a choice to live in the muck, or (speaking in analogies): enjoy getting your boots dirty for a while, hose 'em off, and climb out of that hole.

Life is short:  lemonade is much sweeter than lemons.

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