Monday, April 1, 2013

Empower Yourself: Lesson #1 - Life Is Not Fair

In this five-week series, we will look at what you can do to empower yourself and take control of your life. Remember, "If it's going to be, it's up to me!"

I have not read the classic best-seller. The Road Less Traveled. I have it but I've never gotten beyond the first page. That said, the first sentence, comprised of three-words contains a hard truth, "Life is hard." It is hard and it isn't fair. Recognizing this is the key to a happy life.

Life is not fair. The best person doesn't always win. Hard work doesn't always pay off. You don't always get what you deserve. What should work out often doesn't. Justice sometimes peeps from under its blindfold. The most caring, loving and hard-working person will be diagnosed with a painful, life-ending illness. The liar and cheater will find a loving a devoted spouse. Life is not fair.

Accept this and move on.

So what comes next? Does the utter unfairness of life mean that it is all meaningless and doing the right thing and being a decent person doesn't matter? Of course not. Hard work doesn't always pay off but sometimes it does. On occasion, you do get what you deserve. The key is to recognize that nothing works out all of the time and since you don't know when something will work out, you might as well go for it.

This lesson is a hard pill to swallow and when I look at my own life, I can see why. I never expected to be never-married and childless at 44. I've always wanted to be a wife and a mother and I think I would have been a good one. It is still possible for me to get married but having a child of my own is not going to happen. I've had to accept that and believe me, it was not easy. I deserved it. I worked hard for it. It should have happened for me ... but it didn't.

So to keep my sanity and not allow bitterness to overtake my life, I had to do four things.

I had to stop focusing on the outcome. For a long time, I had tunnel vision. If I didn't have a husband and child, I didn't have a family. I discounted the family and friends I did have because they didn't fit into this very small, perfect little box, I felt I should have. When I took the blinders off and looked at the life I created for myself, I realized that I had a life filled with people who loved me and things that I loved.

Related to Number 1, I decided to make it about the journey. Doing the right thing doesn't always pay off but I sleep well at night. I don't have a lot of guilt or regret. I don't spend time looking over my shoulder for people I've wronged who are looking to get back at me. I am becoming the woman of character that I was raised to be. No matter if things work out or not, I'm evolving and developing and whatever happens, I've decided to be a better person for it.

I had to stop beating myself up. Life isn't fair and I am not perfect. However, things not turning out as I thought they should have didn't mean I was a failure, or not good enough or any of the other things I would tell myself. It just meant that life wasn't fair. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn't always about me.

Finally, I had to appreciate the things that were going right in my life and not always focus on the things that weren't. There is the theory of The Missing Puzzle Piece. No matter how beautiful the puzzle, you're eye is always drawn to the piece that isn't there. I didn't have the success I wanted in one area of my life, so I ignored all of the other areas and made myself very unhappy.

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