Whiners, complainers and those that refuse to take full responsibility for their lives are three of my least favorite people groups! Their incessant blame is like a non-stop needle being slowly scratched across a record. We all know them. They’re easy to spot. They will begin unloading their troubles on you the minute you accidentally step within their ever so wide bubble. Like a Dyson on steroids, they will swiftly suck you into their vortex as they drone on and on about how unfair life is.
And if you’re not careful, you will unknowingly sign up for their club! They thrive on new members and love to methodically drag you down into their pit of misery. If we’re being honest, I suspect both you and I have been in their club at least a few times in our lives. The key is not to become a permanent and lifelong member.
Life happens. We all go through tough times. Chances are you are currently 1) headed into a storm 2) in a storm or 3) just got out of a storm. Not to be bleak, but if you are looking for a trouble-free life, you are deceiving yourself. Count on it. There will be trouble.
So now that I’ve worked you into a deep depression by telling you about the boatloads of trouble headed your way, how do you successfully navigate the murky waters ahead? The first thing that comes to my mind is simply to “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP”! We’ve all heard this phrase, but what does it really mean?
Here are some steps to the fine art of Sucking It Up:
- OWN IT! Stop and take an assessment of the mess you’re in. Divorce? Bankruptcy? Bad report from the doctor? Fired from your job? What role did you play in the current storm you are in? Accept responsibility for your predicament. 100% responsibility. Acknowledge the error of your ways. This is the first and maybe the most important step in getting through your struggle. And yes, I know that bad things sometime happen to good people through no fault of their own (killed by drunk driver, kids getting cancer, etc). But ultimately, you must own the circumstances or condition you are currently in. Wishing it didn’t exist or burying your head in the sand will only compound the struggle.
- DECIDE! Carefully weigh your options. What will you do differently to get a new and better result? Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Find a mentor. Ask the opinion of those you respect. Put all of your options on the table. And then…DECIDE. Don’t wish. Don’t hope. Don’t procrastinate. Make a firm decision and then commit to that decision. This changes your internal dialogue from “I want to” to “I WILL”. Deciding will free your mind of the myriad of options and give you a narrow path to focus on.
- TAKE ACTION! Making a firm decision must lead straight to action. Otherwise, all of your “Owning It” and “Decisions” are in vain. As Peter Marshall once said, “Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned”. I have definitely been guilty of over-planning and under-doing from time to time. Planning is much easier than doing the hard work of taking action. Ultimately, action is what separates the winners from the losers and the dreamers from the doers. What if the Apollo 11 crew had only made great plans to fly to and land on the moon but never took action and actually left earth? What if Thomas Edison had only strategized about harnessing electricity to invent the first incandescent light bulb, but never acted on those plans? You get the point. We must take massive action even when we don’t yet have the entire plan.
- LEARN FROM IT! Once you have owned your mistake, made a firm decision to correct the mistake and taken action, it’s time to learn from the experience. What are the takeaways? How can you prevent the same mistake again? Does your plan of action address the root cause of the issue? What lessons learned can be applied to other areas of your life? Take some time to write your findings in your journal.
- LET IT GO! After you’ve done the hard work in steps 1-4, the final step is simply to “let it go”. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistake(s). We are all imperfect humans and we are going to make some bad decisions and wrong turns. But now it’s time to move forward and focus your full energy and attention on the task at hand and not on the mistakes of the past.
So, the next time you find yourself mired neck deep in a swirling endless cesspool of poo-poo, just remember to “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP”!