When Life Gives You Lemons...It Gives You Lemons!
Shortly after my son got married, he got into two pretty serious car accidents, back to back. He not only needed to get a new vehicle, but he also had to brace himself for the sky-rocketing cost of his insurance. This was not what he needed, as he was starting a new life that was supposed to be filling with freedom and bliss!
We all know that the fact that he was alive was all that mattered, but that didn't make him jump up for joy and say: “Wow that was a close one! Let’s go celebrate!” No, instead, he was racked by guilt and the fear of what if this happens again, how am I going to pay my bills, and the plans we had now have to change….
When we talk to people after they have experienced a disappointment or loss, we mean well when we try and get them to focus on the positive memories, the good things they still have left, or the possibilities of a brighter future. But sometimes, I think we say those things not so much for the other person’s benefit, but because we feel awkward and we want to take away their pain. If we stopped to think about it though, no one has a guarantee about the future, the present may be filled with more challenges, and the past may be overshadowed with more bad memories than good ones. We want the person to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’, and that may come, but in the moment, for most people, it’s too early to think positively.
A far better approach to take is to go down in the pit of despair with them and try to understand the depth of their emotion. That’s important for you and for them. Most of us, when we fail or are disappointed, have a ton of negative messages playing in our head space. But that’s where they stay, because we think no one else wants to hear them, or if they do, they are going to minimize our emotion and then we will question why we can’t get over things. We are going to wonder if there is something seriously wrong with us. It feels like too great of a risk to take if we actually admit what we are thinking.
If you are struggling right now with something, you know what I mean. You finally share what you are worried about and the person replies: “Well tomorrow will be a better day.” “Another door will open.” “It could have been a lot worse.” “There’s more fish in the sea.” Again, we know they mean well, but it just makes us sigh inside and shut down, thinking that it’s easy for them to say because they are not walking in our shoes right now. They are not facing the financial worry, the loneliness, or the doubt about getting that job…
The first thing that we really need when life doesn't make sense, or when it seems to keep beating us down, is for someone to acknowledge and agree that it is confusing, that it does suck, that it doesn't seem fair! This is the reality of what we are feeling. We have to be allowed to feel that loss, disappointment, or pain. There is tremendous relief in that release of pressure in our mind. So don’t hold back the river, open the lock system in your head space. It’s often in the uninterrupted talking through of things, that answers and hope are found. And after that, the person might feel like they are ready to consider that glass of lemonade!