Coping strategy: My perceptions
I’ve always been one for striving in life for that lovely relaxing feeling that one gets when they are totally at peace with themselves. I can admit now that I’m in a very peaceful place right now in life, it’s good, and a healthy outlook. This coping strategy changed my life. But I’ve shovelled through an amount of shit in life that even Andy Dufrense would be proud of.
As a younger man I was the king of looking down on myself. Mistakes were punished harshly, and I wasn’t able to let go, not very easily, anyway. I was always striving for that ever elusive perfection. And it was my downfall in retrospect because I hadn’t realised then that perfection is non existent. It was later in life that I began to admire life for it’s little imperfections. Anyway, amidst trying to find that grand pedestal of wisdomry I would always view being in a better place as a life with lots of money, success, friends and fame, oh, and also a life without conflict. And how wrong I was.
I later realised what really mattered, and that’s outlook. That’s all it is. Perception and outlook. I’ll explain.
My Dad wasn’t a good man to me. All throughout my life anything that I have done hasn’t been good enough for him. If I ever achieved something mind-blowing, like being picked for the Scotland under-14’s golf team, he always had a friend, knew someone or he himself had done better. There was never any grand applause or ego boosting (That’s probably where my perfectionism stems from, but moving on..). As a 20 something man I was always wishing that he’d change, that somehow I’d be able to manipulate some force of life and he’d change into this wonderful loving father that kids dreamed of. I spent most of my 20’s trying, wishing, hoping he’d change, and trying to make him see the error of his judgement. This caused me an insurmountable amount of pain, anguish and heartbreak. I really don’t want to visit those years again. There was always someone in his life that was better than me, heartbreaking.
And the effect of this was that it had seeped into the very core of my being. Judgements were harder to make, I was more anxious most of the time, my outlook on life would get worse and worse the harder I tried but he would refuse to budge.
But what would have happened to me if I were to just accept life as it is? How would my 20’s have been if I was to view it as,
“That’s Dad. I’ll just let him get on with it. He’ll never change”
Taking that perspective would have allowed me to focus on different things rather than my focus being central to him. I could have done wildly different adventures in my earlier years without giving him a thought. Mum has always been supportive in whatever I’ve done. She’s never been a problem. By accepting life as it is then it allows me to work with what’s happening ‘in the now’ rather than trying to change things that really are too hard to change. Let me explain further.
We all know the grumbles that start when work is making a major transition for whatever reason, and the upheaval and annoyance this causes. Instead of ‘wishing it was back to how it used to be’ why not work with the transition to make things easier? Then you’re helping what’s happening right now and not pushing a tonne weight up a hill. Because let’s face it, when change happens, it never goes back to the way it was. No matter how hard we try.
And this is how I view life. I think
“Ok, this has happened, although it makes me feel like crap, we need to do x, y and z to make our lives easier to cope with w”
This is a very good coping strategy in my opinion because you’re dealing with the problem as it happens and taking the necessary steps to deal with it. Not like I was doing,
“Oh, this has happened, why does this shit always happen to me? I’m so mad right now I want to cry. I’m going to lay under my bed covers and hide from the world”
And whilst sometimes I do feel like doing this with some of the shit life throws at me, I realised that this method isn’t achieving much. If anything it’s increasing anxiety and paranoia ten fold. And I don’t want to do that with my life.
So when I talk about life being awesome and really enjoying myself, it’s not because I’m free from the bullshit that life often throws at me, it’s because I’ve learned to cope with it in a much easier way. Problems that seemed daunting to me perhaps ten years ago are dealt with in an appropriate manner now, because I’ve realised that there’s things in life that I can change, and some things that I just can’t. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t work with what I can’t change to make my life easier.
Hope this helps!
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