By: Marilyn L. Davis
Am I Different or Just Have Bad Luck?
We have all asked ourselves why things turn out negatively for us, or why the same kinds of outcomes keep happening to us. We may create the illusion that we are born under a bad sign, we are unlucky, or the universe does not like us.
Let’s say that you have a strained relationship with a family member. You have lied to them, stolen from them, or manipulated them. You have made promises and then break them.
Your actions have harmed them, put them in financial difficulty, or disappointed them, and they are not speaking to you. They have resentments towards you.
Changing Us Creates a Different Outcome
Changing, and then making amends will allow them to interact with you again, voice their feelings, and will enable you to “do it differently,” by paying them back the money you owe, keeping a promise, or no longer trying to get things through manipulation.
Without another interaction with your family, and you choosing to do something differently, your family will never know that you have changed. That would be genuinely sad. Be grateful, “it” is happening again.
“I’ve Been Here Before”
Other life situations will come up, and there’s a familiar aspect to it. Codependent traits have governed many of your interactions with others. There are people in your life that are just unhealthy for you to be around, but you have never been able to distance yourself from them. You didn’t want them angry with you, you didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and you couldn’t state the truth to them.
As a result, the same types of people seem to gravitate to you, or you have attracted this type of person; someone that is not healthy for you.
When you find yourself thinking, “I’ve been here before,” in your interactions and experiences with people socially or professionally, reflect on the outcome of past situations from the perspective of your actions, your words, and your attitude and then determine if you liked the result or not.
Time to Do It Differently
For instance, you have been overly helpful to friends in the past; doing things for them that were inconvenient for you, or they took advantage of your generosity. You now have someone at your office that complains about all she has to do and asks you babysit so she can go grocery shopping.
You understand the demands of being a single mom, so you decide that you can do this, and then find out that she didn’t go grocery shopping, but out to dinner and a movie without telling you.
In the past, you would have been hurt and angry inside but not say anything. Successful people learn from their mistakes; they make an effort to evaluate what happened, why something fell apart, and resolve to do things differently if they have another opportunity.
Successful People Change
Successful people do not continue with the behaviors, attitudes, or actions that got them negative consequences; they quit butting their heads up against the brick wall!
Think about the time that your boss made unreasonable demands on your time or a friend gossiped about you.
Did you react poorly to them? Instead of discussing the time constraints with your boss, you hung your head in shame and seethed inside.
You started acting in a passive-aggressive manner and were obsessed with his rudeness. Instead of talking directly to the friend to determine if there was a conflict between you, you started rumors about him or her, even knowing that they were untrue. You were hurt and reacted poorly.
So this time, you tell your co-worker that you felt manipulated and used and although you are afraid she will be mad at you for saying something, you need to let her know how you feel.
Opportunities Each Day
Each time that the same life lesson comes your way, you have an opportunity to change and do something differently. But many people do not change; why is that? When this reluctance to change is evident, ask yourself:
- What do I get out of staying the same?
- What would be enough incentive to prompt change in my actions?
- Are there lessons I’ll learn through the process of change?
- Can I see benefits to change?
- What are my feelings about changing?
Ambivalence about Changing
Some individuals are just ambivalent, undecided, or of two minds about change. They may have gotten so used to living in unfulfilling relationships, lived here and there with whoever would take them in that night; made money/did not make money, know the hours of the soup kitchen and where day labor can produce enough money to get alcohol or drugs, or being in trouble with the law.
In other words, they have learned to live with the conflicts and uncertainties of not changing and learned to survive. Survival is about endurance, carrying on, living to tell the tale another day. It can be nothing more than drudgery.
Not changing can also be about not realizing your resources to change. While many changes happen internally like feelings, thoughts, and attitudes, you’ll need help from others for effective change.
What are your resources for change?
What supportive people do you have in your life? Family, friends, co-workers, employers, people in recovery supportive meetings
How many times have you Googled or Binged, the questions that would give you directions to change a behavior or attitude?
Each day will bring an opportunity to have a life lesson and more importantly, a chance for you to do something differently.
Instead of reacting poorly to these similar situations, try thinking, “Thank goodness for this happening again.”
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief of From Addict 2 Advocate. In 1990, she opened North House, an award-winning women’s residential recovery home. In 2008, Brenau University, Georgia, created the Marilyn L. Davis Community Service-Learning Award. This is a yearly award given to advocates in mental health, wellness, and recovery.
In 2010, she received the Liberty Bell Award for her work within the criminal justice system.
Before closing the house in 2011, she authored and developed Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery Systems (TIERS). When North House closed, friends and colleagues encouraged her to write online to reach a larger audience. Finding outlets online, she shared her 30 years in abstinence-based recovery.
She also realized that how she said something might not connect with all readers. This is one of the reasons that she has made an effort to collaborate with new and seasoned recovery writers when she started From Addict 2 Advocate.