Compromise

Life is about compromise. I’m not talking about compromise as in giving up your dreams; or settling for less; or lowering your standards. Life is a compromise in the sense that in order to get what you want, some other things must be let go. Maybe you didn’t get into your first choice college, or get your perfect job on the first try, or find the man of your dreams. Often what we think is second best may be the best thing that ever happened to us.

We learn from experience, and some experiences are terrible as we live through them. But we emerge stronger on the other side. I liken it to crawling through a cold, dark tunnel with no light shining through. As I’m crawling through the mind-numbing darkness, a pinpoint of light appears. It encourages me to keep going. Gradually the pinpoint grows bigger, and bigger, until I emerge into the sunlight. After being in the dark for so long, I am blinded at first. But soon I am reveling in the light and warmth.

This is how I see bad times in my life. I have made compromises; I have had to give up some things to get where I wanted to go. I gave up a marriage to finish my education; I gave up a lucrative job to save my soul; I gave up toxic people in my life to save my sanity. This is what I mean by compromise. In none of these cases did I give up my dream, settle for less, or lower my standards.

The art of compromise involves walking a fine line. Sometimes we have to think about the decision; other times it’s a matter of doing what we think is right. What’s the worst that can happen if I give up x to pursue y? What if I forego y and stay with x? Sometimes, I have to follow my intuition, my instinct, and it hasn’t failed me. The biggest problem I have is with what ifs – what if I had stayed where I was? Would I be better off? If I had stayed in a dead marriage instead of leaving and following my dream, would I be where I am now? But what ifs are counter-productive; they serve no purpose. Where I am is a good place. I won’t stay here forever, but for now, this is where I am, and I can only go forward from here; I refuse to go backwards.

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When things go wrong

We are human. When something goes wrong, it isn’t long before a whole series of things starts going wrong. Why? Much of it has to do with our mindset. It is so easy to berate ourselves for doing something wrong, and when we focus on what we did wrong, we start to think we can do nothing right. Once we start down that path, more and more things go awry. We get in the habit of doing the same things and expecting to not get it right. Before we know it, we have set ourselves up for failure before even beginning something because we believe we can’t do anything right. Sometimes we fail because we take to heart other peoples’ criticism of us; we give more weight to someone else’s opinions than we do our own. Living your life by someone else’s expectations won’t work. It is only a matter of time before we become unhappy and angry because we are not living the life we are meant to live.

It isn’t easy to break this cycle, but it can be done. We have to tell ourselves that others can’t possibly know us as well as we know ourselves. We have to tell ourselves that we are capable of getting it right. We have to tell ourselves that we are strong, and intelligent, and capable of great things, if we will just allow ourselves to ignore the naysayers. Some people take great delight in smashing dreams; ignore them – they are usually unhappy people who can’t bear to see others succeed. Don’t listen to them; listen to your heart. Let your heart overrule your head; listen to that still, small voice that tells you what you are capable of accomplishing.

We may not always succeed, but failure just tells us to try another way. Giving in to failure tells us we are not worthy. That little voice, our intuition, is almost always right. I have learned this the hard way. Whenever I have listened to that voice, things work out well; whenever I have ignored it, things didn’t work out so well. Too often we make decisions out of fear; those kinds of decisions aren’t good for us. Fear can be conquered by doing that which we fear the most.

Trust your instincts.

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