Part of our trip to Madison to attend the Antiques Roadshow included a side trip (or, rather, the majority of the trip) to see Neal’s grandma, who just so happens to be a wonderful, insightful, and humorous woman that I have come to adore. We also met up with two of his uncles and one of their wives who were nearby, all of whom I have met ONCE in our entire relationship and that one time being before we were even married (at Neal’s younger brother’s wedding a little less than a year before we married). Since we had such a small wedding and his dad’s side lives mostly in Wisconsin, we haven’t seen them much. (Heck, we don’t see my family much. By the time we get back at Christmas, I won’t have seen the majority of my family, excluding my parents, my sister, and my nieces, for two full years. It will be a bit over a year-and-a-half since I’ve seen my sister and over a year since I’ve seen my own parents. We don’t have much money for travel, unfortunately, which means my family and Neal’s dad’s side get short shrift.) All that aside, however, it was very nice to see them again (especially Grandma. Man, I love that woman!)
We went out to eat and then hung out at Grandma’s new apartment (in assisted living, where she does NOT want to be, but she does realize she needs it) for a while. A lot of things had happened in the past few months, and his uncles were describing it. Every so many sentences, they would end with, “…but, you know, it is what it is.” I held in my laughter when one uncle said it several times in a row after each sentence.
When we arrived back at the hotel, I told Neal how funny it all seemed, especially since it was said so often that night by almost all present. Several days passed and I was reading through my Bible study lesson for the week. A couple weeks ago, I finished a really insightful study called “Me, Myself, and Lies,” which went through our negative self-talk and what we could do to work on that. I’ve really been needing it lately, and I was really happy when a good friend of mine agreed to do it with me, because I needed to hear some of the things we went over.
I was expecting it to be mainly about our self-talk as it pertains to our self esteem and how we see our physical selves, but it delved much deeper than that. A few weeks in, one of the lessons asked us to discuss what we were feeling convicted about, and I’d been feeling a strong conviction in regards to my persistent complaining. I mean, I’m a champion complainer, and I really felt I was starting to rub off on Neal, which was not a good thing. I’ve never met a more patient, more compassionate, and more forgiving man as my husband, and I was making him more impatient and less compassionate. What a terrible way to rub off on someone! (He says it wasn’t my influence, but I think that’s just to make me feel better about myself.) This lesson was shortly after we had visited Neal’s family, and the phrase “It is what it is” kept resounding through my head as I thought about the conviction and my own thought processes. I tend to meditate on worries and fears, instead of things that I should be thinking about (mentioned as meditating on “What if” instead of “What is” in the study). I really need to focus on that “what is” of life and leave off thinking about the “what if” aspects that I tend to keep in the forefront.
My last post was fairly upbeat, which if you knew the things going on in life right now and all the things I could be thinking about and worrying about, you’d wonder why I was dwelling on the few goodies in life that I’ve been tossed lately. Living in fear of “what if” and as a slave to the “what if”s that may come up is really no life whatsoever, and I need to let go of that lifestyle. I decided that my new mantra would be “It is what it is.” If something was and nothing I could do would change what was happening, it was what it was and I had to learn to life with “what is”. Life is nothing more than being more contented with “what is” and worry less about “what if”.
I know many people would say, “But we have to plan for the future” and other similar things like that. Yes, we do, we have to plan for future “is”s in life: retirement, potential job loss, etc. But planning for them (and saving for these things) is much different than dwelling on them and living in fear of them.
What does all this have to do with complaining? Simple, and I’ll get right to that in a second. Another thing that happend shortly after the visit was another week of study, at the end of which we discussed, guess what? Yep, complaining. I was convicted about this about two weeks prior to having two sections about it in the study, and it brought up a point that I had never thought about before. To me, the “it is what it is” goes right along with refraining from complaining because complaints tend to be about what we wish, hope, desire, want to happen (or not) in our lives. Someone has treated us unfairly. We didn’t get something we wanted. My complaining usually is when I feel someone is being stupid about something and it really irks me to have to see that stupidity. According to the study, complaining is a form of self-entitlement.
Oh. Let’s stop right there, because we ALL know how I feel about self-entitled people. “I deserve this because I was born” or whatever. Ugh, how I HATE that all-important sense of entitlement! And yet, here I am, complaining about things that I feel should happen in my life and all upset because something is contrary to that. Sometimes my complaints are valid, and most people would agree, but do I really want to be the person who always complains? No, I do not.
I’ve told several people about this new life philosophy of mine, and I’m learning a lot about how I’m viewed. First of all, none of my coworkers think I complain too much, which was shocking to me. One actually told me that she thought I was the happiest person she’d ever met, because I always seem so cheerful and full of life. (Maybe I just save up my complaining around Neal, then, which is NOT fair to him in the least.) No matter what, I know that I don’t feel good when I complain about most things. I need to feel the anger, which is fine, but let it go.
I need to remember that whatever happened IS, and I can’t change that just by complaining about what someone said about me or to me or for me. I can do what I can to change whatever happened, if possible, but if there are no possible remedies, it is what it is: Live with it.
This isn’t new, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s something I’m working to live by, working toward being a happier person, complaining less and living for my “is” more. If I can change it, complaining to myself or to Neal won’t change it: I need to DO something. If I can’t change it, it is what it is: I need to learn to deal with it some other way.
So that’s all there is to that. “What is” is what it is and “what if” has no place in life if I can’t change it anyway. Work toward changes I can make in whatever way and learn to live with the rest. Otherwise, how different am I from the self-entitled people that tick me off so much anyway?