I heard someone lamenting the fact that she was having a difficult time with a certain relationship. She was feeling hurt, angry and frustrated. It was taking a lot of her energy just to deal with the situation.
While I was empathizing with her, I was reminded of a certain five-point plan of action that one of my rebbetzins, Chana Levitan, gave me while I was at Neve. Sometimes things can really seem unfair, and this unfairness can get under your skin and live there. In order to prevent any bitterness from really taking root, like it can do all too easily, try to think about these five things:
- Not a coincidence. Custom-made situation for my growth
- I can handle it!!!
- Check expectations
- Judge favorably
- What do I want to do about it?
Not a coincidence
That’s right. This difficult/awkward/unpleasant situation is supposed to happen. Sorry. Instead of dwelling on why-me or I-wish-things-were-different, it could be an opportunity to grow personally. Like, maybe it’s an opportunity to work on not holding a grudge, or on giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I find that while this is sometimes a hard attitude to cultivate, it’s very freeing once it’s accepted.
I can handle it!!!
Now, because this is a custom-made situation, it means it’s within the parameters of your tolerance level. I know, I know, it may not seem like it at times (or all the time), but try to do the positive thinking thing. Sometimes if you just think a situation is manageable, it becomes so. Be like the little engine and think you can (that sentence didn’t work as well as I’d hoped…)
This is a great one for marriage, and really, any relationship. Are your expectations realistic? There’s definitely a difference between what we want to happen, and what is a reasonable assumption of what’s going to happen. If I really think about some situations that have frustrated me I can see where my wishful thinking has caused me more grief. However, when I’ve accepted certain behaviors as likely, then it’s not as frustrating when they occur.
Always a good one. Sometimes people have a good reason for their behavior, as annoying/rude/offensive as it may be. Try to think of times when you’ve done things which were misconstrued. We all want people to give us the benefit of doubt, so we should extend the same courtesy to others.
What do I want to do about it?
Sometimes no action is the best action. Yes, while is theory it may feel good to give someone a piece of your mind, first ask yourself if the outcome is going to be worth it. Probably not. Sometimes, though, a situation does require action. So, take stock of what’s going on, maybe consult your Rav or Rebbetzin (an objective eye can be so nice), and decide what it is that you need to do.