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  • Elliot Callighan

Responding to Difficulties in Life

I feel my greatest shortcoming in responding to difficulty is frustration, which can many times lead to anger and actions which are regrettable later on. We have all experienced it - some more than others and for many different reasons.


Most of this stems from a dwelling on how things should or should not have happened. Something that is all too easy to do given current news and potentially toxic social media feeds.


How many times have you thought someone around you should have done something sooner or differently and now you're "cleaning up their mess"? They knew all the same information as you and hopefully more - yet they still acted this way? That was a terrible way to respond. Theyshouldhave done this, that, the other, etc.


What's interesting about this is most of the time our frustration comes from our projected belief about something rather than the thing itself. Whether or not we feel somethingshould becan be far more powerful to fueling our reactions than theactual thing. This can take on an even more powerful effect when it begins to warp into thinking something should or shouldn't happen toyou.


Think of it this way: you're going on a long trip and advise your 4 year old to use the bathroom before they go, yet they refuse and have an "accident" on the road. You'd probably be annoyed but also (to a certain degree) expect what happened. Howupsetwould you be at the 4 year old?


Now, take that same scenario and instead of a 4 year old, let's say they were 14 or 24? 44? Barring any medical conditions, you'd be significantly more upset at them right? For the 4 year old it's understandable, but everyone elseshouldknow better. I mean, controlling your bladder is a reasonable expectation of a 24 year old, right?


Nowyou have to deal with more things becausethey didn't do what theyshould have. And you're mad about it because this whole situation is stupid. It shouldn't even be a situation because why do you need to worry about a grown person accidentally peeing in the car?! SERIOUSLY?!



For the record, that "cleaning up someone else's mess" phrase I used earlier wasn't planned to coincide with this scenario. Guess I'm just a pro at talking about pee.


Why is your reaction so different when literally the same thing has happened?


You have expectations that weren't met. You projected what things should be or your perspective of things was challenged."A Teenager/Adult should know better!"


Ultimately, however, nothingshouldbe anything - it all just is. Things happen to you just like they happen to everyone else. It wasn't unlucky that something happened - it just happened. Any sense of bad luck, lack of fairness, victim-hood or misfortune is being created purely by us and how we are thinking.


Now I'm not saying that you should devoid yourself of all emotion. It's only natural and can be a healthy and cathartic experience to release it. But emotion should always be the passenger and never the driver when you're responding to difficulty.


Viewing events and actions through this type of lens will help to identify what/who went wrong and take action in an appropriate way. But this is only possible by removing the anger and frustration that all too commonly influences us.


Rather than getting angry when we hear about people and leaders ignoring guidance from experts, think about the information you do know and how you can act appropriately. Maybe you don't walk near that park, or perhaps you can help spread useful information on staying safe so others don't make the same mistake.


Once you actively realize that your frustration is purely self-inflicted because of your expectations as opposed to the person/event/thing, it becomes much easier to accept what may come and respond in the best way.

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