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frog in a pot 2

Figuring Out How to Make Things Better

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: jronaldlee

A fierce unrest seethes at the core, of all existing things: it was the eager wish to soar, that gave the gods their wings.

— Don Marquis

Over and over again, in the self-help literature, you read, “It’s all a matter of how you look at it.”  In other words, you can choose a viewpoint which could help you feel better.

While this may be good advice on the surface, it may be ignoring an underlying problem.  If over a long period of time you are finding it hard to accept your life as it is, it’s quite possible that the reason is that you need a change.

A Mood or a Message?

When you think about it, we’re brilliantly designed.  Instead of sugar and spice, or snails and puppy dog tails, we’re made to seek fulfillment and happiness.  Discontent is God’s way of saying, “Get off your butt and do SOMETHING, for heaven’s sake!”  Sometimes, that something is finding a way to accepting where you are… for now.  Sometimes, it’s a cry for you to look around to find what’s working for you and what isn’t.  Unfortunately, we often stay exactly where we are because we’re so busy trying to find the right way to look at “it.”

We can also delay making a decision because nothing is black or white.  I may not like the situation, but I like the people.  For a myriad of reasons, it may not be a good time to make a change.  Whether it’s a marriage, a job, or a church, there are parts that I don’t want to leave behind, and those parts keep me stuck in between.

Getting Clarity

When I’m feeling somewhat yucky, I’m usually focused on a particular part of my life.  And, I have to admit that I’m often not as good as I should be about looking for a positive viewpoint.  As I’ve said before, I can wallow.  But after a certain amount of time, I get tired of wallowing.  For a while I can enjoy being justified in my feeling bad, but after that I just feel bad… and that doesn’t get me anywhere.  Over time I just feel worse.

How long I choose to wallow is in direct proportion to how afraid I am to make a change.  Like you, I find change scary – at least some of the time.  We all know the old saw about boiling a frog by putting him into a pleasant pot of water and turning the heat up gradually.  Our lives can be like that.  We’re not happy with where we are, yet we stay (or stay quiet) because it’s not that bad, until we notice that it really is that bad.  Then, when we try to have our say or try to make a change, it’s harder.

Over time, I reach a point where I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired – a time when it’s “hot” enough in my pot of water that I need to do something.  I reach a point when there isn’t a “better way to look at it” and I need to change the underlying circumstances.

Unfortunately, I then want to just chuck the whole thing.  Before I do that, it can be helpful to try and figure out exactly what I want to be different.  A few of the questions that I ask myself are:

  • What is it that’s really bothering me?
  • Do I want more responsibility or more help?
  • Do I want to change what I have?
  • Do I want something entirely new?

The more I can tie down exactly what’s bothering me, the better I’ll be at fixing it.  Just taking an action to fix it will change my viewpoint from wallowful to hopeful.  And hope is what I need.  With hope I can persevere, I can find a new perspective, and I can preserve the parts I like while creating a better situation.  With hope, I gain back my power.

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