By Timo Kiander
Imagine these three scenarios:
Scenario 1: You wake up in the middle of the night and your baby is crying. You feel annoyed that you have to wake up in the middle of your sleep.
Scenario 2: Your goal is to finish your first marathon, so you have to practice consistently. However, you don’t feel like exercising today. It’s raining and you’d like to watch television instead.
Scenario 3: You hate your job. You snap at your boss and you procrastinate on the work you are supposed to do.
What do these scenarios have in common? If you haven’t figured it out yet, then keep reading.
IT’S ABOUT YOU, NOT ABOUT THEM
These three seemingly different scenarios have one thing in common: You are blaming the game even though you made a decision to play it.
In many of these situations, we jump in without really knowing what we are dealing with.
When we jump into situations with wrong expectations, it creates wrong attitudes. We expect things to follow a certain path, but the reality is different. And when the reality and our attitudes collide, it’s natural that we feel frustration.
For instance, a new world opened to me and my wife when we had our first baby. Although we had prepared for this a bit, the reality was completely different.
In the beginning, our son was constantly waking up in the middle of the night and his sleeping patterns were quite irregular. This led us as parents to be very tired in the beginning.
At the same time, we knew that this was part of the reality when you have a baby. Sure, it wasn’t nice to feel tired all day because of the lack of sleep in the night, but we also understood that the start could be challenging until things smoothed out.
YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM—FAR FROM IT!
All this inner resistance leads to a “victim” mentality. When you find yourself in a situation that you don’t like, you feel like you have been mistreated.
If you feel like this, then understand that you can change it by taking responsibility for your actions.
When you don’t take responsibility, you are more likely to complain and try to get others to join you in negativity.
TAKING A TIMEOUT CAN HELP
When these negative feelings arise, take a moment to reflect on what is really annoying you about your situation. Then, zoom out and take a bird’s eye view.
Remember that your experiences, whether they’re good or bad, are part of “the game,” and that you started playing voluntarily—that you wanted to play.
Finally, foster gratitude for the positive aspects of your situation, rather than feeling negative about all the not-so-great ones. Remember, the negative aspects are probably only temporary.
FIX THE NEGATIVE ATTITUDES AND MOVE ON
Here are the steps I take when I feel like blaming others and resistance starts to take over:
1. Take a timeout.
When you feel frustrated, angry, or stressed, it’s time to stop for a moment. Literally, just stop!
2. Look at the bigger picture.
Zoom out from the situation and get some perspective.
For example, when our baby was crying in the middle of the night, understandably I was a bit frustrated at first. But then, I changed my mindset.
First, I had to remember that I was like this when I was a baby. And babies won’t cry without a reason—that’s the way they communicate with the parents.
Second, I knew that our baby was healthy and we loved him very much. This helped me to stay up— even if it was in the middle of the night.
Finally, we also knew that this situation (nightly wakeups) wouldn’t last forever, and, in fact, things would get better.
So, everything that happens is part of a bigger picture. Not all new situations are a bed of roses all the time, but that’s to be expected.
3. Resist the urge to victimize yourself.
When you victimize yourself, you’re less able to recognize and meet your responsibilities.
When our baby was born, we knew that there was to be a lot of work involved. Sometimes things would go smoothly, while sometimes things would be a bit more challenging.
However, we wanted to have a baby in our family and we fully accepted everything that came with it.
No matter what happens, you can turn most situations around and appreciate them. Sometimes you can do that in an instant, while other times you might have to be patient.
In our situation, we understood that no matter what, it was our baby that mattered to us the most. Even if we were tired a bit, this would still give us valuable experiences (if we ever wanted to have more children).
If you look closely, you can find lessons in anything that happens, and see beauty in the details.
5. Research the game in advance.
Next time you’re about to take on a new situation, take some time to prepare so you can adjust your attitude and mindset accordingly.
In our case, we studied more about having a baby and what kinds of changes it would yield in our life.
We also talked with friends and colleagues who had a baby already to learn how they handled the change.
This gave us confidence that we could manage it as well.
6. You are the referee.
Remember, you have control over many situations in your life. You are the referee.
So, for example, if you don’t like your day job, start working on a plan B or start your own business instead of dwelling on your situation.
If we take responsibility for our actions, we can find things to enjoy and appreciate, even if the game we’ve chosen to play is challenging at times.
If we decide we don’t like the game, many times we can change it—but first we must change our attitude.
Have you ever blamed the game? How did you get over it?
About the Author – Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.