When you find yourself blurting out something to the effect of, “Why is life so hard?!” switch that thought around right away and ask, instead, “How can I become a better person through this?” Those of us who are used to taking on way more than we should usually don’t ever arrive at this point (making inquiry into the difficulty of life as it relates to us) until we are completely at the end of ourselves. We don’t usually complain out loud (because that’s annoying and childish), and we usually see life’s difficulties as challenges to overcome (not as sufferings to which to succumb). We may be very familiar with the victim mentality, but we don’t really function within it (or at least not consciously so). We prefer to solve our problems and then move on. The catch, though, is that we usually have no trouble finding another problem to have or finding a reason to not be satisfied with life as it’s meant to be (which is, quite simply, enjoyable).
What I have found to be helpful when frustration mounts and I want to go into full blown complain-y, woe-is-me (well, I) mode is to state the facts, change the question, and then hold steady until the discomfort ebbs (or flows away as the tide does after it flows toward us).
State the facts. My question to myself: “Why is life so hard?” My answer to myself: Because it is. Life is hard sometimes. It’s just the way it is. Be a grown up about it and do what you need to do. (See? Definitely not victim mentality.)
Change the question. My question to myself: “Why is life so hard?” My response: The question is not that. It’s this: “How can I become a better person through this?” What can I learn from this? What’s the underlying reason that I feel this way? (See? Problem-solving attitude, check.)
Hold steady until the discomfort ebbs. My question to myself: “Why is life so hard?” My thoughts to myself: Just get through it. This isn’t going to last forever. You’ll get a chance to rest soon enough. It will be naptime/bedtime/get-on-the-bus time soon. Just stay focused. (See? Ready to move on as soon as I can.)
The thing with being a stay-at-home mom is that there can be a never-ending waterfall of frustrations that come our way even in a single moment. What a wonderful privilege, yes. But, man, I don’t think a lot of people who don’t do this who also have less-than-complimentary opinions of the vocation really understand what it actually takes to do this well. It’s kind of like what Randall says on This Is Us when he was talking to his biological father about letting go of the stuff that he could stay angry about—things that white people will never fully understand because they are not black.
So to avoid the potential inevitability of staying angry forever, I’m going to do what Randall says he does and let go of the things that are things in their own right but that I am choosing to not make an issue over so that I can save my energy and mental strength and emotional capacity for things that I deem to be more worthy of the investment—things that will contribute more positively and impact-fully to my life as it is and as I want it to be.