“It’s not fair!” wailed the ten year old, doubling over with the pain of it, tears welling up in pleading brown eyes. “Jimmy got a bigger cookie!”
We’ve all seen it. The lament at the lack of justice. Suffering in the face of unfairness.
We’ve all been it. Whether the words come out of our mouth or remain contained in the bubble above our head, we compare and declare, “It’s not fair.”
“It’s not fair that he gets to stay in the house and I am forced to be in a lousy apartment.” “It’s not fair that her work schedule means she gets more time with our children than me.” “It’s not fair the judge disregarded all of the sacrifices I made in the early years of our marriage.” “It’s not fair that I have to spend this money on legal fees just because the other side won’t respond.”
Divorce is an experience which creates constant opportunities for comparison. And comparison leads us down the inevitable path to conclusions that, yet again, “It’s not fair.”
And what did your mother tell you?
“Life isn’t fair.”
These words intended to be wisdom provide no more comfort to us as adults going through divorce than they did when our little brother got the bigger cookie.
So how do we find comfort when our minds are hard-wired to compare? Try this.
Recognize that the propensity to point out injustice is normal. Natural. Human. We have inherited the brains of our ancestors who needed this capacity to distinguish the yummy berry from the poison berry. And we’ve been comparing our entire lives. So be gentle with yourself when the thoughts arise, as they surely will.
Release the notion that you can change that aspect of the “unfairness” which is beyond your control. I can’t change the fact that I’m 5’ 2” tall and no amount of whining about it will make me four inches taller. However, while going through a divorce, I know I am in control of my attitude, my coffee budget, and how I’m being with my children.
Realize that what seems “unfair” to us today may seem an extraordinary blessing down the road (like when you don’t have to shovel the snow or mow the lawn or repair the roof on that house you thought you wanted so badly). It’s hard to see the big picture. Divorce is complex. You can be certain your soon to be former spouse is having just as many “It’s not fair” thoughts as you.
Remember that energy spent complaining and comparing about what isn’t fair robs you of your energy and enjoyment. Instead, focus on what you can control. What is it that you really want? If there’s nothing you can do to get, surrender. If there is, then it’s time to shift into action to do something about it.
After all, life may not be fair, but the choice is yours. You can act like a ten year old about it, or you can courageous person on the divorce journey that you really are.
I teach fourth grade and fight against the forces of “fair” on a daily basis. It’s a tough line to walk between teaching children that life isn’t fair and crushing the potential future dreams of a child! 🙂 Life should seriously come with a textbook…and lots and lots of tests before you can advance!
This is so true– but as Calvin (from the Bill Watterson comic) said, “I know life isn’t fair, but why can’t it be unfair in my favor?”
As you said, attitude is just about the most important thing you have to control. It’s hard, but things change in time.
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