It doesn’t really matter whether life is fair or not, it’s your life and you can choose not to be a victim.
There was a time in my life when I ate oatmeal for dinner because it was all we had, when I kept the school proofs because I couldn’t afford the photos, and when the tooth fairy once left me an IOU note. Now I and my family are living internationally, I’m doing what I love, and I have all that I need.
During the tough times, I used to whine a lot. And I could build a strong case for victimization around lack of money, cars breaking down, people hurting and betraying me, lousy options and missed opportunities. I gave people and situations the power to make me happy or unhappy because it was easier than taking responsibility for what was going on in my life.
Today I have a friend who acts in a similar way. Whenever he believes that he is unappreciated or unsupported, he whines. Then he says things like: “Life isn’t fair,” or “She always does this to me, and I can’t stand it.”
If anyone tries to share a different perspective with him he says, “Yes, but…,” And everything that follows the “but” is a justification for holding other people responsible for his attitude.
He could instead drop his resistance by letting other people be just as they are without wishing they would be different just for him. And he could change the way he talks to and about himself. For instance, he could stop saying “always” and “never” because they are always never accurate. And most importantly, he could be the internal change that he wants to see externally – by consciously choosing thoughts, words and actions that express what he wants to receive from others.
He can do all of this – or not. And either way, my role is to see him as capable of doing it, without requiring him to do it, without wanting him to change for me.
How did I change? I eventually got over my own negativity and began looking for an alternative. I stopped trying to force people – my ex, my boss, my landlady, my neighbors, my government – to change so that I could feel better. I stopped blaming people and circumstances for what was happening around me. I learned to pay more attention to what was going well and to capitalize on that.
Oh, and I stopped whining!
Photo: Upsplash/Joshua Earle