Today we’re going to look at one of the things we do as individuals to make ourselves miserable. And it’s a big one that’s easy to get caught up in.
Lisa grew up never knowing her father. Never even knowing who her father was. For her mom the months around the date of her conception were fogged out by booze, who had no idea how many guys she’d slept with during that period, and little idea who any of them were. So Lisa was brought up by an on-again-off-again mom and a rotating circuit of grandparents who loved her and did their best for her.
Did she deserve better? Of course. Without any doubt.
Once Lisa reached adulthood she started searching for her father and never stopped. Was he that handsome guy in that picture her mom sometimes said was her father? There didn’t seem to be any way of tracing him. Anyway, she didn’t look like him. After decades, she found a guy. There were a lot of connections between him and her mom, and she looked a bit like him, and they shared common interests. But a blood test had heartbreaking results. He was not her dad.
Finally, five years after that, she found the guy. The real guy. He acknowledged he was her father. But he was very old by this time, had heart problems, and didn’t want to have anything to do with Lisa. “Sorry, but I just can’t deal with this,” he said.
And he wouldn’t yield.
Lisa was devastated. After this long journey, didn’t she deserve better? After all, what did she want? Certainly not his money or his time. She just wanted to talk to him and learn about his health history.
And so there she was, torn to shreds because of being deprived of something she deserved, and that you and I can agree she deserved. So what’s the problem here?
The problem is a paradox in our minds. When it comes to what we deserve, we all deserve better than what we have or than what we probably will have. We all deserve to live a long, healthy, and fulfilling life. Most of us won’t get all three. Whatever your dreams are, I’m sure you deserve them. Every little girl who grew up dreaming of becoming a great ballerina or figure skater deserved to have that dream come true, even if there wouldn’t have been room on a million Earths for all those dancers and skaters.
So while it’s TRUE that we deserve better—and that Lisa deserved to have a father, never mind to find a father who’d embrace her at long last—the BELIEF that you deserve the things you haven’t gotten is one of the best ways I know to make yourself miserable.
At some point the world turns, things happen, and we don’t get what we deserve. Our husbands grow fat. We end up in the middle of a pandemic. You have less money than you’d hoped you’d have. That house on a lake has failed to materialize. And in some cases we didn’t get the parents we needed, or any parents at all.
The not getting is bad enough. And I think we all know that the only sane way to proceed in life, after the reality of not getting, is to
accept reality as best we can, as fast as we can.
find whatever hope we can.
see the glass as half full, not as half empty, if we can.
focus on what we do have and why we appreciate it.
open our gaze and our hearts to all that’s wonderful in our lives and in the world.
None of this is easy. In fact, if not acted on, these are just platitudes. But as a daily discipline, well, then they will change everything for you. It’s the daily discipline, not the platitude part, that’s the active ingredient.
But we have to banish every thought of how we deserved what we didn’t get. Even if we did deserve it. Let’s say you were one of five nominees for Best Actress at the Oscars. And let’s say you truly thought you deserved it. And maybe a bunch of other people did too. But when they say, “And the Oscar goes to...” it’s not your name that’s called.
Now what? Are you going to chew your insides to shreds thinking of that atrocious bitch Lolana Saint-Fontaine accepting YOUR Oscar, and putting YOUR Oscar on her mantelpiece, her talking forever and ever about her winning YOUR Oscar?
Let’s face it. The unfairness of life began when you and I weren’t born with the huge trust funds that you and I both know we both deserved. But when the Fates drop the ball and take away our Oscars and our trust funds and, sometimes, our fathers and, sometimes, do things far worse to us, then shaking our fists at the heavens getting all agitated about what we deserve just makes things worse. It creates useless pain and distracts us from the real task of getting on with life.
Saying, “I deserve better!” is like shaking a snow globe in the hope of having a white Christmas, when Christmas was already over.