By Stephanie Grossman, M.A.
Lately, life hasn’t been going my way. It has been a series of seemingly never-ending critters in my apartment (from mice to likely mites), professional rejections, personal disruptions, and all of the daily hassles in between that just seem to add fuel to the fire of bad luck. As a result, I’ve found myself asking, “Why me!?” Why is it that these unfortunate events appear to pile on, and that despite my perseverative efforts to solve the problems efficiently and thoroughly, it seems I still can’t catch a break. My feelings of anger and depressed mood, are only exacerbated when friends confirm these injustices. They’ll say, “I can’t believe you’re still having infestation problems! I’ve lived in New York for a decade and never had this problem once!” or, “You were so perfect for that position, it’s just not fair that you didn’t get it.” Though they’re being supportive and commiserating with me, I have found that these comments trigger my irrational beliefs, like “This is unfair, and it should be fair. I should not have to struggle more than others,” and “This experience of continuous bad luck is terrible.” Of course, in reality, it’s not just me who goes through tough times, and I am grateful for the types of comforts and opportunities that unfortunately many others will never experience. But sometimes it’s difficult to remember all of the things that are going well when you’re so fixated on all the things that aren’t.
First, I tried to tell myself what I help my clients to see: life isn’t fair, and nowhere is it written that it should be. It’s a hard concept to accept, but it’s the truth. And if I don’t accept it, I’ll simply continue to be angry, and being angry doesn’t change that fact that life isn’t fair. And in terms of my life being terrible, it is certainly far from it. When I find myself making these overarching statements like, “everything is going wrong and it’s terrible!” I try going through all of the things that could go wrong, but aren’t. The list of possible problems are endless, I remind myself. So rather than focus on what’s going wrong, especially when it’s out of my control, I can focus on anything and everything that’s going right. If my life were really so terrible, I would have many more problems on the list. It could certainly be worse. Last night, instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, I chose to look through my phone at adorable and ridiculous photos of my dogs and eat delicious candy and remind myself that I have the ability to choose to not disturb myself and to better enjoy my life.