Coping with Less than Ideal Circumstances

Expectations text with a ruler

Expectations, hopes and dreams: we all have them and most of us work hard to fulfill them.  Often our efforts are rewarded and our expectations are met.  But sometimes the reality of our lives is less than what we hoped for, either because we never were able to achieve what we wanted, or because we achieved what we longed for, but then we couldn’t hold on to it. 

When the “real” doesn’t match the “ideal”, we typically experience loss.  How much loss we experience depends a lot on our perception of how wide the gap is between the real and the ideal.  The emotions created by loss can vary widely, but often include disappointment, depression, anger, hurt, anxiety, shame, guilt, and hopelessness.

To manage, and perhaps overcome, those feelings, we must find a way to “balance the loss” we’re experiencing.  There are two things we can do toward that end.  First, we can work on accepting that things are what they are.  Rather than staying depressed, angry, fearful or hopeless, we can accept that some things are presently beyond our control and focusing on them is fruitless.  Instead, we can direct our attention and our energy on what we can do to improve our situation, perhaps with the assistance of others.  That opens the possibility to experience joy, peace, and contentment.  

When we balance the loss in one or both of those ways, our life situation can begin to look different to us.  And when they look different, we can begin to feel different.  That, in turn, creates renewed energy and purpose!

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