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Making the Worst of It

May 20, 2018

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They say, when life throws you curve ball, that you just need to make the best of a bad situation.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I seem to have a talent for making the worst of almost any good situation that life chucks my way.

But what kind of talent is that? One that I would like to do without, because it’s a hard way to live.

Let me tell you some ways I make the worst of things. Maybe you can relate.

I scan for problems

My mind is relentless. No matter how well things seem to be going, it feels the need to constantly scan for problems, snags, delays and pushbacks. I won’t allow myself to just relax, enjoy and go with the flow.

I focus on the fleeting nature of the good

Perhaps some wonderful thing has just happened, something I should feel pleased about. But my mind, again, won’t let me grab hold of the moment and savour it. Instead it reminds me that this good moment won’t last. Life is unpredictable and mostly full of difficulties, my mind tells me, and I shouldn’t relax until all possible problems in my life are resolved.

I believe it’s a trick

Sometimes I tell myself that this good time, this moment that is potentially peaceful and happy, is a trick, one that will catch me out if I drop my defences. My mind says, “Don’t get too complacent or God, life or the universe will pull a swifty on you.”.

I believe that nothing less than perfect is good enough

Instead of sitting back and relishing the successful completion of a project or a job, I begin to critique it, picking it apart for faults and short-falls. Nothing less than perfect is acceptable to me, even though I rationally know that perfection is an elusive concept.

And so, I wonder what this is all about…

I’ve come to this conclusion: Making the worst of it is all about fear. Fear of not being good enough. Or fear that I’m unsafe in this world and, to survive in it, I must never drop my vigilance.

It’s also about a lack of trust – a lack of trust in life, the universe or anything vaguely resembling any protective power greater than me. However, rationally, I observe that the earth keeps turning on its axis without any assistance from me. And reflecting on the law of averages, I can see that typically things in my life go well and setbacks are usually either temporary or of no consequence.

And, at its base, it’s really about a lack of trust in myself. I need to remember that I have the internal resources to handle most things that come my way. And when events are beyond my capacity to deal, there are people and external resources that I can call upon for help.

When I look at it in the cold, sober light of day, I know that making the worst of it is a way of being that is personally costly. It is harmful to my body, mind and spirit.

Melody Beattie says, A good day does not have to be the calm before the storm. That’s an old way of thinking we learned in dysfunctional systems.”

This is good news, because it means that making the worst of it is a learned response. And as such, anything learned can be unlearned.

Unlearning an old response takes some time and it begins with a conscious decision to allow myself to enjoy what’s good without dredging for the bad.