My husband has many serious health problems that developed after we got married, and this is taken a huge toll on me. I have to work, take care of our house and our three children basically by myself. I guess I have become disillusioned with what I thought life would be like for me. He complains constantly and I am always tired. It is getting hard for me to be very excited about life. I want the spouse I married, but now things are so different and I have at least 50-plus years to go. What can I do to enjoy life again and make it through this?
Everyone who reads this article will relate to you on some level, because most people are disappointed with their lives and tired of the problems. So what can you do to experience more joy and peace, if you can’t change your situation?
There is only one thing you can do. You can change your attitude about your situation by changing the way you see it. To see your current situation in a more positive way, you may have to change your policy on the purpose of your life.
Take a minute and think about what you currently see as the purpose and point of your life. You may think life is about being successful, being wealthy, proving your value to God or raising the perfect kids. These are worthy goals, but they aren’t your real purpose for being here.
You are primarily here to learn and grow. You are here to experience every aspect of the human condition and gain knowledge and empathy from these experiences. I believe every single thing that happens to you happens to serve your unique process of growing and learning. I believe your life is your perfect classroom. I do not believe in accidents. I believe that every situation in your life is a perfect part of your divine process of learning.
I developed this philosophy when studying the work of Viktor Frankl, the author of "Man’s Search for Meaning." In a concentration camp during World War II, experiencing unimaginable suffering, he discovered that a person can, through changing his attitude, change the way he experiences suffering. He said, "Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it."
You just need to see your situation in a different context. What if you are in this situation — with a sick husband — for a reason? What if it’s not bad luck that brought you here, but this situation was hand-created for your journey, because it would facilitate your growth?
If there was a reason for your suffering, you might feel differently about it.
I think this situation is helping you to become the person you are meant to be. I think it is forcing you to find out how strong you are. If life had given you a healthy husband, you would not be pushing yourself this hard and you would not be growing the way you are. On your own, you wouldn’t have stretched to become what this situation is forcing you to become.
I am sorry that the universe signed you up for this particular struggle, because it is a really difficult one — but I truly believe you are where you are supposed to be, and this situation is serving you in some way. I believe some day you are going to be proud of yourself for surviving this and becoming a better and stronger person in the process.
Frankl said, "I can see beyond the misery of the situation, to the potential for discovering a meaning behind it, and thus to turn apparently meaningless suffering into a genuine human achievement."
He was talking about you. Your struggle is not meaningless, and it is creating opportuntites for amazing growth.
I realize that this doesn’t make your days any easier to handle, though, so I would like to make one more suggestion:
Take it one small moment at a time.
Don’t focus on the weight of carrying this burden for the next 50-plus years today; that will crush you. Instead, focus on this moment and this moment only. Stay really present and let tomorrow, next month and next year go until you get there.
Have you heard the joke about how to eat an elephant? (One small bite at a time.) That is how you must approach your life when it is this difficult. Just make it through this moment or this hour. Focus on what is in your control right now. You can carry the weight of this moment fine. It is the weight of all the moments piled together that gets too heavy. Do not borrow suffering from the future and let it ruin today.
Do not let your thoughts get away from you. You have control over your thoughts. You can choose to focus on this moment and trust your future will be what it is meant to be, and you will handle it when you get there.
If this is really difficult to do (because you are really good at fear and discouragement), you may need a coach or counselor to help. That may be the very best advice I could give you. There are amazing tricks to healthy thinking you have not had the chance to learn, which could make a big difference.
I hope this helps. Hang in there!
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.