We have all heard the saying that life is just the “hand we are dealt,” but is that completely accurate? Certainly, there is an element of truth to it because we cannot control all our circumstances (I know, hard pill for someone that is a control freak like me to handle). However, after that element is acknowledged, we can admit that it is up to us on how we “play” the hand we have been dealt. We can either victimize ourselves and throw a big pity party or we can choose to rise above it and become more than what the cards had first appeared to promise.
I think I realized this concept in my young adult life. I would listen to others complain and pitch in my own moaning of how unfair life was treating me. Wrapped up in a mentality of “woe is me” is actually pretty easy considering a large portion of society seems to cater to that pattern of thinking, without even realizing it is doing so. Look at how social media now offers an immediate soundboard for us to “air” all our frustrations the moment they happen. That can be even more dangerous because in the moment we might not think of the long-term consequences of telling the world our dirty laundry so to speak. When is the last time you sat in a group at your work and did not hear a pattern of sob stories on what all is going on in each person’s life: the boss is being hard, they had to work too many hours, their mom is acting a fool, their kid is breaking curfew, their marriage is crumbling and the list goes on. Sadly, we have not only learned to accept this without even being conscious of the fact it is happening, but we also contribute to it as well. Adding our own list of “slights” we feel need to be heard.
I do want to stop for a moment to admit that feeling ALL of our emotions is not only necessary, but emotionally healthy. So, we do need to feel our emotions around the events that are not so good, but once we feel them and acknowledge them…it is necessary to detach from them. Once we detach, we can shift our focus onto the things in life that need it the most. Finding that sweet balance can be hard as we begin to practice that. Often wanting to linger on the negative emotions can be tempting, but self-sabotaging nonetheless. Taking away our power to “play” the cards we have been dealt; we instead just accept them as they are and fold.
Shifting our focus on the good and positive things does not mean we are living in a bubble of absolute happiness. It means that when things happen, we acknowledge them, feel them if needed and accept the lesson that is being given to us as a positive constructive criticism handed straight to us from the universal way of life. Recently, I had some annual health testing done and the results were not what I wanted to hear. It meant I would need to shift. It meant things would need to be implemented. It meant that I would need to alter my thinking. Of course, I am human so the immediate response to the news was an overwhelming sense of emotions. The usual crying and despair that comes with hard news. As I sobbed to a friend, they gently reminded me I was stronger than any health issue. I had the power, but it was up to me to play the hand. Certainly, I have my days where discouragement seems to override my winning attitude towards life’s game of poker. However, the good days far outweigh the bad now. I learn to lean in and find my lesson. I learn to relish each day and the moments I am given. I learn to take life and make the most of the hand I am dealt. Thankfully, I am surrounded by friends who also uplift and choose to use life’s lessons as a ladder granted to us to level up in our playing field of life.
Next time you are tempted to linger at the pity party just a bit too long…put those shades on and remember the strong person you are. The one who has risen above all odds and fought to be where you are today. Remember that the game is not over until you fold and that power of playing falls on you.
It is best summed up by the famous words of Kenny Rogers:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done”
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