Bitterness, Blame and Beyond
"Single File" - July 2022 Issue
by Susan Deitz
Of all the aftershocks of love’s endings, bitterness does the most damage because it’s sneaky. While it clouds perception, it silently fulfills its own prophecy, which is that people will stay away. Potential friends and lovers keep their distance from an embittered person, which only serves to confirm his/her sour view of life, completing the circle of cynicism. (Deep sigh.)
But when people are content with life and with themselves, they, for the most part, view life’s downturns fairly, placing blame where deserved while (ahem) shouldering the rightful share of responsibility for mistakes, which are almost inevitable in a full life. So what’ll it be, bitter or optimistic? Take your choice. I kid you not, my friend; it is indeed a conscious choice. There are ways to remain hopeful, even when life tosses you a world-class curve.
Ask yourself whether you lay the blame on the other gender, fate, society or your genetic pool for your bad outcomes. If so, consider writing down (yes, this is soul-searching time) the ways they are hurting your chances for happiness and the remedies you suggest. Seeing as it’s only you who’s living your life (and feeling cheated of its happiness), you’re the logical person to make the changes that can make your life better. The short answer? Heal the person in the mirror.
Remind yourself of your personal power, the strength you have to make changes in your life. And make it your mantra to think in the present moment only. Don’t fall into the self-defeating mindset that colors today’s opportunities with hurts of the past. Every day is a new day, a chance to be another you—the new and improved version. Make a point of putting yourself in the thick of things, far from the sidelines where the fearful and the downbeat console themselves.
Dive into possibilities as they come along, and stay too busy to revolve in neutral gear reliving past hurts. And really, when you think of it, there’s no other way to recoup your chances but to go forward. (At your own pace, of course, but do make it your choice.) As for yesterday, well, it’s dead and gone. And tomorrow? Totally out of sight. The only logical choice, then, is to dig into the now and find what it holds for you.
Is it becoming clear that much of what happens is chosen? Yes, some luck is involved; I admit that. But your mood, your friends, your work life are all choices. And affecting all of them is your attitude!
Bitter people are always talking about “what might have been.” “Life is unfair” is their favorite rationalization. They feel they’ve been robbed. Life has given riches and fame and happiness to others, but it has overlooked them. But odds are that digging deeper into their lives, you’ll find missed opportunity after missed opportunity. Maybe fear is what has kept them chained to the familiar—fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failing and maybe, just maybe, the greatest fear of all: fear of succeeding. Think about it.
Beware of those who rationalize their nothingness and pepper their excuses with might-have-beens and if-onlys. No one who steps up to the plate and takes a reasonable risk thinks like that. Far better to stay with the empowered—men and women who own their choices whatever the end result. They feel good about themselves and what they have done (and are doing) with their time, and you can bet they’ll help you, too. Learn from those augmenters; become one of them. They sow good feelings, lift your spirits and help you believe in your dreams. Avoid life’s diminishers—downbeat folks who get their jollies raining on dreamers’ parades. Stay with the happy people.
The past is solely for educational purposes. Mistakes can be a badge of courage, if you pick yourself up and do better the next time. Each time you pick yourself up from one of life’s blows, you’re stronger for it. Losers say that life’s unfair. The truth is that life doesn’t do the cheating. We cheat ourselves when we choose to stay chained to bitterness.