In my role as a Police Officer for over twenty years I have seen people in many bad situations where hope and optimism are mere words and there is no happy ending. The reality of life is often a cruel one where everything is not always going to turn out well.
Issues with parents and friends can often seem over whelming and never ending. The temptations of drugs and alcohol are powerful ones that can easily take hold and not let go. Never having enough money is a common concern. Sure money is not everything, but when you don’t have much of it finding and obtaining the resources necessary to prevent or deal with the previously mentioned issues can become depressing.
I’m not immune to these concerns no more than anyone else who is alive today. Failed relationships, the loss of a loved one and not living up to one’s own expectations are issues I deal with on a daily basis.
However, I’m quick to stop myself and simply ask,” Where do I get off feeling sorry for myself?!” I know it’s a common thought that there’s always someone else worse off than you. But, it’s a reality worth thinking about.
Now let me preface this thinking by first stating that there is no one who is better than anyone else. But, there are many of us who are not as challenged with the obstacles that life always seems to place before us. There are many people out there that deal with a lot more challenges than I or most of you ever did.
Whenever I find myself feeling sorry for myself, it’s usually when I’m driving from home or work. There always seems to be some lingering issue I have with my family or a bad day at work . Its at that moment that I find myself looking at my car window and really take notice of the other people around me and wonder what their day must be like. I see an older heavy set woman dodging traffic as she attempts to cross a street in her motorized wheel chair that can never move fast enough. I see a young man using his long cane because of his visual impairment and wonder if I could even walk ten feet before running into someone or something.
And then there’s the 30 something man I see waiting at the bus stop for his ride. I know it’s not always the same person, but no matter where I’m at I seem to see the same person. He’s there slumped on the hard concrete bench strewn with graffiti. Some cheap head phones rest on his head blaring music as he waits patiently for the bus to make its way. I always see this person wearing clothes that just don’t fit right and drape his pear shaped body like an afterthought. I think he may have Down Syndrome, with its familiar features readily apparent. In that moment when I become aware of the people around me I know “we” all have issues to deal with.
Please understand when I describe these people I am not passing some kind of judgment, I am not! I do not feel sorry for them in the least… sure I can sympathize for the unique challenges they all have to face. It’s for myself that I’m feel sorry. How dare I complain about issues I might be dealing with when so many others have issues that I know I could never deal with easily.
One of my favorite expressions is simply put “You can’t control what others do, but you can certainly control what you do!”. The mantra of those words always seem to beat inside my head when I need to stop dwelling on the problems I’m dealing, and for those times I’m kicking myself for making bad choices or causing most of my own troubles. I simply say, “I need to do better next time.”
Sure these are just words and there are so many others who have said these very same things and so much more eloquently I know that. But, it’s what works for me in the moment.
My goal is to take those self-induced viewpoints and somehow channel your own frustrations, doubts, fears and utter sense of hopelessness into trying one more time. I don’t pretend to have all the answers and I’m certainly not so well read as to be able to quote great thinkers who have been able to crystalize some of those same fears and doubts we all share with great prose. But, I will try and provide some understading and guidance on what has worked for me and others I have had the opportunity to help.