There is little incentive to develop yourself when life is nothing but puppy dogs, rainbows, and gum drops. It is the hard times (not the good ones) that show us what we’re really made of. Here is a small sample of unexpected things that make you a better person.
1. You are a member of the broken-hearts club.
Just because one relationship ended doesn’t mean you are doomed to be lonely forever. It is never wise to place the full weight of our happiness and well-being on the shoulders of another person. You might feel incapable of loving another person right now, but the feeling will pass. Being single will teach you to be more self-reliant and independent. Enjoy the alone time and get your inner-house in order before you invite anyone else to it.
2. You seriously dropped the ball in your relationship.
May I confess something kind of personal? A few years ago, when I was a young and stupid college kid, I cheated on a past partner. I can remember precisely what it sounded like when she cried. I felt so bad about this that I ended up sending her apology letters every now and then for YEARS after the fact. My failure taught me a hard lesson in how selfish actions can hurt other people. Am I happy it happened? Hell, no. But I know it won’t be a repeated mistake, because I never want to make a person feel that way ever again. If you screwed up in some way:
1) Admit it.
3) Explain yourself.
4) Ask for forgiveness.
5) Move on.
Will the other person forgive you? It’s hard to say. But if you perform the above steps, there is little more you can do. Swallow the bitter pill and get on with your life.
3. You lost all faith in (insert God/Goddess/deity here).
First: I know the feeling. I went to a Christian college only to discover I was an atheist in my third year there. This realization came about during a bout of depression, where I stayed awake into the middle of the night, praying as hard as I could. The problem? I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one was listening to me on the other end. I felt alone in the dark, as if I was talking to myself. Losing my faith really sucked at first, but I came out with a stronger sense of independence and personal responsibility. You can also look forward to an improved ability to relate with Christians, atheists, and every religion in between.
4. You feel so very alone in the world.
Do not wait for someone to fix you (unless you want to be waiting forever). You are the CEO of your life. Feeling alone in the world isn’t fun for anybody. But when you take control of your life, you will discover you’re more powerful than you ever imagined.
5. You faced a harsh rejection.
You applied for a job posting that sounded like it was written for you (only to receive a cold rejection e-mail the day after the interview). You asked out a person who you felt was a perfect match (only to be told “sorry, I just don’t see you that way”). You turned in a paper you felt was worthy of an “A” (only to receive a slap-in-the-face in the form of a “C” and snarky written remark from your jerk professor). The specifics notwithstanding, nothing makes you feel inadequate like rejection. But there is a glimmer of hope here: the more rejection you face, the less it will sting. I feel qualified to say this as a freelance writer and theater actor. The harsh reality of my life? I have been rejected for more writing gigs and acting roles than I’d like to admit. But it is what it is and I refuse to let it drag me down. Being turned down for a job used to make me feel insufficient, but today I don’t even flinch. Do likewise.
6. You realized most people don’t give a crap about you.
It’s harsh but it’s true. Most people are only interested in what you can do for them. The sooner you can learn this, the more you can focus on the people who truly appreciate you for who you are.
7. You are struggling with no end in sight.
I’m not going to pretend to know how you feel or what you’re going through because I don’t, so I’ll spare you the hokey feel-good pep talk. But let me say this: if you’re going through something that makes you feel sad, angry, stressed, or lost… I’m sorry to hear it. That could be a mental or physical ailment, an unfortunate accident, a lost job, or just about anything. But no matter what you are going through, don’t give up hope. Channel your energy into helping other people facing the same struggle that you are. Helping others will make you feel happy and productive (plus you’ll learn that you are far from alone in the world).
8. You learned happiness isn’t a tangible thing.
“If only I had a better job/relationship/friends/body/car, then I would be happy!” Sound familiar? I hate to break it to you, but none of these things are going to make you feel any better. Do they offer temporary gratification? Sure. But life-long happiness? Probably not. Happiness is not a destination you can arrive to. It is a journey (as well as a choice) and just like any other journey, it has its highs-and-lows.
9. You feel like crying your eyes out.
Do it and without a single iota of shame. When is the last time you had a good cry? If you just paused for 10 seconds while deliberating, that means it has been far too long. Holding in your emotions will make them intensify, creating mental monsters that will be much harder to deal with later. Letting your tears come out without objection will help you relieve stress and drop the baggage that’s holding you back.
10. You don’t know who you are anymore.
Coming to terms with the fact that your concept of self is shallow can be a shattering experience. Waking up to discover the petty, little words you use to describe yourself lack any true meaning can be a harsh slap-in-the-face. But realizing where you live, work, and worship is but a mere drop in the ocean of who you are opens the door for limitless self discovery and personal transformation. In other words: the real fun starts now. If you want to be a better person who strives to be the best human being they can be, consider this your invitation. Are you in?