That is exactly what happened to me last week.
At the end of last school year, my daughter’s school let us know that they would be cutting a class, so instead of 5 classes there would be 4, which in turn would make the class sizes that much bigger. Upon starting school this year, my daughter found herself in a class of 31, instead of the 24 that she had the year before.
Many parents were not happy about it, and so last week there was a small demonstration to show our disapproval--not to the school, but to the government. The news was there, with cameras and microphones in tow.
Later that day we were on the news, and later still we were notified that a 5th class would be opened!! Hooray!! I did a small happy dance upon hearing the news. Unfortunately, the happy dance didn’t last long because I found out the following day that my daughter would be moved to the new class.
“What? No. She can’t be moved. She doesn’t do well with change. This class was good for her. She was with her friends.”
I was not the only parent who was unhappy. There were the parents, like me, who were unhappy that their child was being moved. There were other parents who were unhappy because their child wasn’t being moved.
Yet, just the day before, I was standing in front of the school with a mass of other parents saying that I wanted it.
You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for?”
I can come up with countless examples of the same thing happening:
- Loving the freedom that came with my driver’s license, only to get into an accident and have to pay the insurance deductible, and purchase a new tree (yes, I had to buy someone a tree….)
- Wanting to be in a relationship and the feeling of being in love, but not wanting the communication breakdowns and other mis-steps that come with a relationship.
- Fighting to keep a certain level of job, only to be transferred to work with a terrible manager
- Enjoying the flexibility of working for myself, while not enjoying certain aspects of running my own business.
But in all of those examples, I don’t think I would have traded the original wish, despite the negative consequences that came later. I don’t think it was my wishing (and getting) that was the issue, though, it was my MINDSET about what I got.
I think many times we fail to realize that we are not the only players on the board in this game of life, and often fall into the role of the powerless victim.
When we spend all of our time thinking about the negatives of a situation, we activate what is called our INHIBITION SYSTEM, which then leads us to feeling powerless, anxious, and pessimistic. On the flip side, when we spend our timing focused on the BENEFITS of a situation (even if it feels dire), we activate our APPROACH SYSTEM which allows us to feel more powerful, positive, and optimistic.
And that is what I had to do in the aftermath of learning my daughter was being moved--focus on the BENEFITS and the OPPORTUNITIES, rather than the costs.
I invite you to do the same thing, either in the aftermath of a decision you aren’t happy with, or before you yourself make a decision. Throw out the old PRO-CON list, and simply focus on the PROS.
It’s often not the circumstances themselves that are the issue, it’s how we SEE the circumstances.