Recently I got in a funk.
A dark cloud hung over and throughout me. It seemed everything I did was failing, late, or not good enough.
I felt undervalued. Unnoticed.
I also felt my brain power was underused.
I mean, how much brain energy does it take to figure out when to start a load of wash when it needs to be done by X (okay, maybe that’s an algebra word problem, so that could take some brain power). Or what time should I jump in the car to chauffeur students for an after-school event ( another algebra question; they did say algebra would be used in life)? Or answer questions like, “Where are my socks?” Or decide what to make for dinner?
I was feeling the woe-is-me blues, and singing what-is-the-use tunes.
About this time, my teen son asked, “Mom aren’t you looking forward to retiring one day? Because I sure am.” And all I could think was, Retire? Are you kidding? Someone will always be asking, “What’s for dinner?”
I know, pretty pathetic.
But I think many of us have been here. Maybe we are hearing more complaining than appreciation. More what-were-you-thinking than thank-yous. Maybe we are going through a rough time. Maybe we are comparing ourselves to someone else who has a more exciting life (or at least seems to). Maybe our life is full of more slow zones and speed bumps than straight-aways and race tracks. Or maybe we are just tired or doing the same tasks day after day. After day. And we see no end in sight.
A young mother once confided. “I think my whole day revolves around food. I make breakfast. Cleanup breakfast, and then it is time to make lunch. I make lunch. Cleanup lunch, and it is time to make dinner. I make dinner. Cleanup dinner, and it is time to go to bed. Then get up and repeat. This happens day after day.”
Yup. Anyone relating? Excitement for our life has jumped out the window.
Our commitment for our current job of service to our current tribe is growing lukewarm.
Maybe it is not cooking and cleaning and the endless cycle of doing it again and again that’s got you down, maybe it is not being noticed at work. Maybe it is doing work that seems not even related to your degree. Maybe it is cleaning up your co-worker’s messes. Maybe it is watching others get credit and you get none. Maybe it is having a boss who undermines you. Maybe it’s working late without compensation.
Whatever the reason, there will be times we feel undervalued, invisible, and unappreciated.
There will be times we get tired of doing the same thing over and over. Tired of our current lot in life. Tired of being good old us.
So, what’s a woman to do?
I wish I could just demand, okay maybe decree, a bigger fuss be made over my efforts and the tasks I do all day. Flowers, chocolate, a two-week vacation, a thank you card, and a surprise party with flashing lights and dancing would be a good start.
But that isn’t happening.
I could whine, complain, and guilt those around me by reminding them of my worth and my priceless value to them. I could tell them to thank me, quit taking me for granted, and expect a lot less from me.
But that won’t make them or me happy. (Who wants a gift when you have to guilt someone into giving it to you.)
I could play the martyr role and remind everyone loudly through sighs and flippant or sarcastic comments that I deserve better and they are using me.
But goodness, that isn’t a win-win for all parties.
I could just do my own thing on my own time schedule and say hell to the rest.
But throwing a big fit doesn’t end well or make me or them feel good.
I could focus on everything that I perceive as wrong, on all the injustices and slights and circumstances I wish were changed, on how I wish reality really was, and on how discontented I was.
But that will only make me more miserable than before and send me into a fast-downward spiral. Guaranteed.
I suppose I could just go on strike, but that’s not fair. And what if they went on strike? What a mess we would have.
Remember you are in control.
I can’t say I didn’t do a little bit of some of the above, because I am human and I did, but then reality set in. I realized I could only change myself, not them. I could only change my attitude, not the situation.
In other words, I had a lot more control than I originally thought. I was not a victim, like I was making myself out to be in my mind. I had more control over the situation than I was thinking I had. And I had more control over myself and my choices than I was thinking I had.
I had to stop the downward spiral of a pity party. Yes, it seems silly to even admit I was feeling sorry for myself when I am so blessed, and lead an easy life compared to lots of other people (why do we never compare our self to someone less fortunate to us during a pity party?).
I realized I needed to change my thinking.
There wasn’t only one ahh moment. Or a 10-minute call-to-clarity moment. It happened over a time period.
First, I tried to Identify why I was discontent and in a bad, terrible, pity-me mood. Anybody heard of selfishness? Well, so had I. And I was smack deep in a knee-high pile of wanting to do my own thing on my own timeframe and a who-cares-about-some-other-people kind of attitude.
Unpretty things were in my mind. And they were coming out in my attitude and feelings.
I thought about my attitude. What was wrong with it? How was it unrealistic?
I thought about how I wanted it to be. How God wanted it to be.
As I put on my thinking cap in the car one day, while out doing errands, I remembered that Jesus came to live a life of service to others. He did what his parents wanted him to do. What his teacher wanted him to do. And always, what his father wanted to do. I am sure he didn’t always want to do what his parent’s asked. I am sure he didn’t always want to heal another person. Give another sermon. Stop the bickering of the disciples. Deal with the daily grind of living. Yet he cheerfully did.
We know he certainly didn’t want to do his last and biggest task, if at all possible. Yet he willingly did. Because he didn’t come to live for himself and do what he wanted to do. He didn’t come to gather accalades and praise. No, he came to fulfill the plan that had been set in motion before we were even created. He came to serve us and his father.
Wasn’t I called to imitate Jesus?
Well that train of thoughts put some things in perspective.
Then I talked to a trusted friend. Admitted my not so pure thoughts and attitude and she empathized with me. Encouraged me to keep up the good work. And pointed out ways I was appreciated and valued.
A few days later I was at church.
The text was about Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding feast. His first miracle. And as the pastor was talking about how Jesus quietly and behind the scenes changed the water into wine, I realized he was not drawing attention to himself. He was not Instagraming the moment to let everyone know about his first miracle. He wasn’t having a disciple call the newspaper to do a write up. He didn’t even announce to the guests that this delicious and better wine was the result of his doing. No, he quietly and humbly served the guests, fulfilled his mother’s request, and saved the wedding feast.
Change what can be changed.
We may not be able to change our circumstances or situation, but we can always change our attitude.
Changing our attitude, will help us look at our circumstances and situation with new eyes. Changing our attitude will change our feelings and ultimately our life.
Others can’t fix you. You have to fix yourself. Your attitude.
There are a number of ways to change your attitude. Here are a few
1. Share your heart, feelings, and attitude with a trusted friend. Let them encourage you. Remind you of God’s truth. Pray for you. Listen to you.
2. Know that God always sees you, notices you, and calls you beloved. He appreciates and makes note of your hard work. And loves you fiercely, bad attitude and all.
3. Whether you realize it or not, your faithful example is spurring others to good works. It may feel like others don’t notice, but they do. And without your service, the world would be a dimmer place.
4. Tattoo on your heart that your value is not in what you do or don’t do, but in whose you are.
5. Imitate Christ, who came not be served, but to serve. He did it quietly without fanfare and with no expectations in return.
6. Take charge. People cannot read you mind. We need to tell them what we need and take steps to meet our needs. This may mean scheduling some fun things in life that recharge your soul. Saying no. Focusing on a fewer priorities. Readjusting your schedule and self-expectations. Giving yourself grace.
7. Ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
8. Change your perspective by counting your blessings. Instead of complaining about washing the dishes, realize you have dishes to wash. Instead of thinking you “have to” make dinner, realize you “get to” make dinner.
9. Pray. Ask to see your situation through God’s perspective, instead of your perspective. This transforms us and our attitude.
10. Get in community with others. Our enemy wants to isolate us and make us think no one understands us, loves us, or knows what we are feeling and experiencing. But this is false; you are only feeling the normal human range of emotions and others will understand. Find some community that does.
11. Learn from the experience and give yourself grace. Then next time it happens, it won’t take so long to identify your downward spiral and start rocketing up and back to balance again.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
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Join the Discussion: How have you changed your attitude to change your life?