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For The Less Than Perfect Situation
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, June 2009

Dealing with less than ideal situations is a fact of life. You may not have received a job promotion or perhaps someone just didn't come through for you. In the current economy, it may very well be taking whatever job comes your way, or not retiring when you planned. It may be altering your child's options for college, or having your adult children move back in with you. Each one of us faces challenges at various times. How you deal with these challenges (which often present as disappointments) contributes to whether you see yourself as a resilient person with a sense of control or a victim.

One way to view the situation is to think about making the most of the experience. Even though this is not the scenario you would have written for yourself, consider the ways you can benefit from this change. How can you apply your cognitive skills to other areas? How can you make the most of the transition when dealing with the unknown and feelings of insecurity? Without sounding like "Pollyanna" how can you look for the silver lining and find gratitude in the day to day experience?

Focusing on only the negative aspects of what is not going right will contribute to your feelings of worthlessness and add to your disappointment. Instead, focus on the benefits of the changes. For example, if you need to accept a part time job because a full time job is just not available, pay attention to the extra time you now have to engage in a hobby, volunteer at a local shelter, or spend more time with those you love.

During what you may see as a personal downturn, work at being kind to people. Go out of your way to help others. See what you can do to be of service (bring food to a neighbor in need or offer to visit someone who is alone.) By focusing on other people's situations, you are less likely to feel as if there is a dark cloud over your head.

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