A man that I know was trapped in a bad situation. He was stuck with responsibilities that he didn’t choose. His relationship was falling apart. He felt depressed and angry and out of control.
For awhile he wallowed in the unjustness of it all. He was a good person, why did this happen to him? Why didn’t he get respect for doing the dirty jobs? Others said that they appreciated what he was doing, but their words never really felt like enough.
He had taken on the responsibilities because he felt like there was no choice. If he gave up and walked away, everything would fall apart and he would feel worse than ever.
Instead of giving up, this man did something different. He took control of the situation, and took back his life.
The first thing that he did was to find things to love. He was stuck with a dog that he had never wanted. But the dog wagged it’s tail every time it heard his voice. The dog loved him, unconditionally, even as he had let his resentment of the dog grow. So he realized that even if he didn’t like how he got stuck with the dog, the dog itself was actually great. He gave in to it’s charms, to it’s soulful brown eyes and wagging tail, to the way it laid it’s head in his lap. Instead of resenting or feeling angry about the dog, he let himself see the wonder of how such a loving animal had come into his life, at a time when he felt so all alone.
Loving the dog opened his heart to loving other people as well. He found himself at times being actually happy to be in his current situation. The feeling didn’t last, but it gave him hope for the future.
As he began to feel hope, he became more aware of other aspects of his life that made him feel bad. He realized that he was depressed by his surroundings. The house was in bad shape, and he didn’t have the money necessary to fix it up. He was discouraged every day when he looked around him.
He decided to ignore for now the things that were beyond his control. The rotting siding would have to wait. But he could come up with enough money to buy a few plants, which he planted just outside the kitchen window. Now, when he looked outside he saw something beautiful that cheered him up.
He realized that he didn’t have to live with the cardboard covering the broken window pane. A piece of glass was inexpensive, and he was able to learn from YouTube how to replace the pane. Once that was fixed, he started to feel a lot better about the house. He looked around for other places where, with a little effort, he could make a difference.
Approve of Yourself
His disintegrating relationship continued to bother him, especially at night as he went to bed. He had spent so many years trying to make things work. Now she was away, trying to “discover” herself. Where did that leave him? Sitting and waiting and miserably unhappy.
Before he had met her he was a reasonably happy and self-directed man. Now he felt like his happiness depended on her whim.
One night he got angry. He was not a bad person. He was the one taking on the responsibilities while she went off on her own. Granted, their life together had been less than happy lately, but was he the only one to blame?
Life without her was actually no worse than life with her had been recently. In some ways, it was easier, because he didn’t have to face the daily resentments and silent treatment. How could he be held responsible for another person’s happiness, especially when he didn’t even know how to make her happy anymore?
She was away, and he was left to his own devices. He decided, right then and there, that he had a right to be happy, regardless of how she felt.
He started to go out more often, to group gatherings, to enjoy the company of other people. He was limited by his responsibilities, but he still made time to get out now and then. As he smiled at the other people in the group, and lent a hand to make things go more smoothly, he knew that he was a good person.
He approved of himself for the difficult and often thankless tasks that he was undertaking. He did them out of love, because he expected that sort of behavior from himself.
Life might be tough right now, but it was for a good reason. He was doing things with his life that he needed to do because of feelings of personal integrity. The responsibilities were difficult, but they would not last forever. It was a choice that he made, because he was the kind of honorable man who would do these things.
This man turned his life around by taking a few important steps. First, he found things to love. He released the love that he had bottled up inside himself, and allowed it to flow into the world. He took care of his surroundings, to make sure that, to the extent possible, they uplifted him instead of allowing them to pull him down. He stopped dwelling on things that he couldn’t control, and instead took care of things that he could control. He looked inside himself for his higher purpose, and began to approve of himself again.
Life can get difficult at times, but we do have control over how we face life.