When It Doesn't Work Out

Sometimes, we dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t,’ and stuff still doesn’t work out.

Stuff could be a job or a negotiation, family gathering, repair project in the basement, ambitious homemade gift. I’ve checked those boxes, plus a roomful of other boxes. I expected, hoped, maybe even prayed things would go one way, they went a very different way. And I felt very crummy. No surprise there.

But here’s what is surprising: we don’t have to feel crummy.

We don’t have much choice over the boss’s response to our proposal, the friend’s reaction to our present, that the chair we’re trying to refinish is rotting.

But we do have this choice: Who are we going to choose to be when stuff doesn’t work out?

When it’s all hitting the fan, when the wheels of our beautiful plan are falling off, when our ego is twisted in knots and our expectations are clashing with our reality, what kind of a person are we going to be?

I want to be kind. To others and to myself. And kind seems so soft and simple. But it can be the hardest thing in the world when my energy is nowhere to be found and my pride is nursing its wounds.

So, the next question is: What support will I give myself to be the person I want to be when stuff doesn’t work out?

Get sleep, drink water, have some stillness and some silence each day, exercise is mandatory. That helps me. So does reading people who chose compassion where there has been so little - right now, I’m thinking Bryan Stevenson, Rachel Naomi Remen, Greg Boyle.

Those are my answers. You might choose to be patient, to have your feeling and then get on with it, to be curious, to be true to yourself, to not take it personally. To be something else entirely.

Despite our most exquisite planning, there will be stuff that won’t work out. It’s not a rare thing. The rare thing is to choose who we will be in the face of that and give our selves what we need to realize that choice.

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