Dear Dr. Norquist:
Something is always going wrong in my life. Things never seem to go well for long. It’s very frustrating. Sometimes it’s mostly inconvenient or hard on the budget – like my car breaking down (on the George Washington bridge, no less). Sometimes it’s severe, like my mom being diagnosed with cancer.
I’m getting to the point where I don’t trust life – because it’s just when I think things are in order that something bad happens. Perhaps I should just expect it – then I won’t feel so let down all the time. But I don’t think its good for me to think negatively about my life or about life in general. How can I be positive when things keep going wrong?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It looks to you like things are going wrong, because of the nature of your concept of the world. Your approach appears to be “if I can get things in order, then my life will run smoothly.” Now, it’s true that being organized does allow for a more even ride. But – what about that which we can’t have control over?
Life is fluid, ever changing and never subject to our control. The analogy that works for me is seeing life as like water. You can never really grab ahold of it. If you try to hold on tightly, it slips through your fingers. It is ever-changing; sometimes calm and inviting, sometimes stormy and ominous appearing and never absolutely predicable. It’s not that its malicious, it just is what it is – ever changing.
Riding the waves of life requires an acceptance of the nature of what is, a watchful eye, the ability to embrace change, and skill at maneuvering through the ever-changing waves. This skill can only be developed over time, with conscientious practice.
If you change your concept of and expectations of what life is about, it will be much easier for you to surf the waves of life. We can never really get our lives in order in any permanent way. We can, however, learn to accept the situation we are in, know that it will change, and make the best of whatever opportunities for growth each present situation provides for us. A more helpful way to view life would be to see it as an adventure. If you change your expectations of life, it will feel different to you. Try it and see!
Check out Dr. Norquist’s new blog GrowingThroughParenting.com
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. Ó 2019 Chaitanya Counseling Services