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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why You Should Never Ask, “What Else Can Go Wrong?”

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

“What else will go wrong?”

“Why do these things always happen to me?”

“What am I, God’s cosmic joke?”

The problem with many single parents is that we complain – a lot – and some might say rightfully so. We don’t get enough child support, or maybe we don’t get any child support. We are solely responsible for getting our kids to school on time, bathing them, dressing them, feeding them, clothing them, attending parent-teacher conferences, supporting them at their sporting events, helping them with their homework, driving them to school or work. And, oh yeah, taking care of ourselves. But who has time for that, right?

People without kids don’t have a clue what it takes to care for children. We can’t help but judge them for judging us. And they give us even more reason to complain.

When I was raising kids in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s (my “kids” now range from 30 to nearly 45), people often chimed in with their opinions about everything I was doing wrong. I felt terrible. And I believed them. What is it about us that we tend to pay more attention to negative comments than we do to positive comments? Ten people can compliment us, but we’ll pay more attention to that one person who belittled us or humiliated us than we do to the other 90% who helped us feel better about ourselves.

While I was raising my kids, I went through financial devastation, and while I still don’t have a bank account due to other unforeseen catastrophes, I have noticed one thing that played a particularly important role in raising my children – the more I focused on negativity, the more negativity arose. And then something changed my attitude about negativity. Oprah suggested starting a Gratitude Journal. What could I be grateful for? I was divorced, getting less child support than the courts ordered, I was suffering from lack of emotional and financial support, everything was breaking or broken – as a matter of fact, everything that could go wrong, did.

And I asked myself, “What ELSE can go wrong?” And you know what? Just by asking that question I opened myself up for an answer. That’s what happens when you ask, “What else can go wrong?” The Universe responds with an answer.

In trying to retrain my brain to think more positively, I decided I could be grateful that I HAD children. So many people who wanted them couldn’t get pregnant. I could be grateful that my parents and siblings were still alive. I knew of too many friends who’d lost their parents. I could be grateful that, even though all of my furniture was given to me, I HAD furniture that people cared enough to GIVE to me. I had a home. I had a phone. When I looked around me, I realized that, actually, I had a lot.

Fortunately, I also had very good friends. During the depths of my financial depression, just before I realized that I couldn’t go on using one credit card to make payments on another, nor could I afford to continue purchasing food and clothes for the kids with credit cards, a good friend of mine suggested that I pretend I had money. She also suggested chanting positive affirmations like, “I have more money than I need. I have so much money I can afford to pay my bills and attend to all needs for myself and my children, and I have enough left over for things we all want.”

While I thought her suggestion had merit, I couldn’t see myself believing that I had money just by telling myself that I did. But I COULD believe I had money if other people told me I did. I started leaving dollar bills in different areas of my home, so I could believe I truly had money EVERYWHERE. Soon anyone coming to my home would say, “Wow, you have money everywhere.” It worked! I believed it!

I went from pounding the floor and crying (I actually smashed my mother ring when I did that), “What am I, God, your favorite little soap opera? Do you enjoy tormenting me with one crisis after another? Is my luck not bad enough for you? What else can you do to burden me? What else are you going to take from me?” to looking around and being grateful that I had a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear. And I was especially grateful that I had good, caring, loving children. Like any parent, I went through some bad times with the kids, but they’re grown now and I’m proud of each and every one of them. I’m also happy that I am their Mom (not to mention the gifts they share with me from time to time – their children, and their children's children).

Now, instead of asking, “What else can go wrong?” I ask, “What good is going to come to me?” “What am I, God’s favorite sitcom?” And on days like today, when my air conditioner broke once again, I ask, “How will WE (God, the Universe, and me) solve this new problem together?” 

Thinking positively brings positive results. 

One more thing – take SOME time for yourself. Have your friends babysit for you so you can enjoy some “me” time and then do the same for them. We all need a break once in a while.

UPDATE: The air conditioning problem turned out to be a tripped circuit – YAY! 

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