Twice in two days I have encountered this idea, first on websites and then in Andrew Marin’s book “Love is an Orientation,” that our perspective of glass half-empty or glass half-full means everything to the way we live and experience life — that if we expect scarcity, that’s what we make for ourselves, and if we expect abundance, that’s likewise what we get.  Not because there’s any magic in the expectation, but because we act in light of the expectation, and our actions determine our reality.

This one is hitting hard, because my perspective is so thoroughly negative — I expect so little goodness to come to me, I’m so desperate for it and cling fiercely to whatever I find, because I’ve got no expectation or assurance I’ll ever get any more.  I don’t believe I can find good friends in my area to share my day-to-day life with, I don’t believe I’ll find work I really like and will be successful at, I don’t think I’ll find a thriving church community that I can really belong to and love being part of, I don’t think I’ll find a good man to build a solid, nurturing relationship and life with, I don’t trust that I’ll always have enough money or physical stuff — so much “can’t” and “not going to happen” inside my thoughts around these things, that I don’t even try.  Why would I?  Why throw rocks at a target I can’t ever hit — one that maybe doesn’t even exist?

This is how I treat the world, how I see it and myself in it.  No wonder I get stuck.  Moving forward, flinging myself into the void of anticipated future emptiness, negation and pain is not a thing any human could do, I think.  People do endure terrible, hard things, but mostly in service of something good and worthwhile envisioned on the other side — only if the pain is temporary, and the reward will be worth it.  That’s not what I see when I look ahead.  Just a dark fog of uncertainty and cold indifference.  I can’t walk into that.  It doesn’t matter if it is objectively real: in my mind and heart it is real, and I can’t face it.  I can’t go out there.

If this is another lie, another unreality that has gone into my heart and soul and warps the way I live, what do I do?  How do I confront this?

I’m really pondering that one.  I don’t know yet what to set against this lie; what evidence to bring before it, what light to shine down into this fog and maybe dispel it. I can think of some maybes; I think about how much life has changed over the last year, I think about all the new friends I’ve gained, about the ways some older relationships are opening up, about how far I feel I’ve come, when I bother to remember.  I remember the promises of my faith; I remember the Divine stepped down into this world and walked around with us in it, that Jesus himself said he came so we can have life, and have it to the full.  That’s a promise, so do I trust him for it?  If this life I’m sitting in is not an abundant one, then there’s something I haven’t got yet — but the something is available to be had.  The limit isn’t set by God.  It’s set by me.

Maybe the starting place is to remind myself, keep reminding myself, over and over, then over and over again, of everything I used to not have and have since received, everything I have been given and have become — maybe some looking backwards in the right spirit will help me to look forwards with more hope.  Maybe if I need to do more writing, as I said in my last post, this is something for me to write about, even if no one else reads it.  Just so my fingers keep forming these letters and my mind keeps forming these thoughts and my eyes keep seeing them.  Over and over, then over and over again.  Maybe then the idea of hope, of possible change for the good, of abundance and promise and life lived to the full, life livable to the full, will finally sink in and make some difference in the life I really live.


5 comments so far

  1. propercocker on

    (((hugs))) to you. Have you thought about getting some meds to help you out? I’ve been sitting in your shoes, esp. as winter sets in, the past several years, and finally saw my doctor and got some meds. Suddenly, I don’t hate my life. I don’t hate my house. I don’t want to throttle my husband. Instead of thinking, “I have 900 things to do today, I only have time to get 50 done, I’m a failure, why bother?” I’m starting to think, “I have 900 things to do today, I only have time to get 50 done, that’s OK. I’ll do those things, be happy I got them done, and move on.”
    (((more hugs to you)))

  2. Barbara on

    I agree with the above comment to at least talk to a doctor and see if meds might help or whether maybe counseling would be appropriate. I have a friend who seems to be chronically unhappy. It is her day to day outlook on life that everybody has more than she. I believe that we come somewhat prewired to a certain outlook on life and it takes a great deal of work to change our natural reaction to daily events and challenges.
    I do think that you can work to change how you see the world and as short a time as I’ve “known” you I see you taking steps to become a happier you.
    It does take time and I firmly believe you can get there.

  3. sherlock1973 on

    I don’t seem to have much to say (at least, something that would be actually helpful) so I will say that I love you, and I wish I could make it all go away. But since I can’t, I will be there for you as much as I can.

    Love you, sis.

  4. sarah on

    I wonder if we can establish ‘brain memory’ in the same way as we create muscle memory and acquire new skills? It’s worth trying, as you have suggested. List the good things in your life: friends, family, beautiful things you have made, good meals you have eaten, sunsets and sunrises you’ve seen. Write this down. Add to it when you think of more. Carry copies with you. When your mind starts to focus on sorrow and failure, read that list and think about each beautiful, warm, lovely thing or person on it, because they’re part of your life. And, as Sandi said, examine this block, this impediment to happiness in your life. Don’t batter yourself to death on it when, if you understand what it is, you may be able to walk around it.

  5. Lisa on

    Sending you hugs, though I know this is wayyyyy late.

    I’ve been hospitalized for depression, and one of the things my therapist had me do was list at the end of the day every single thing I accomplished. I was so used to feeling like a failure and believing that I never did anything right that it did help me see that I was actually accomplishing a lot every day. Maybe not exactly what I wanted to do (three loads of laundry vs. writing the great American novel) but still…

    Related to that is the idea of a gratitude journal. I know it sounds cheesy, but for those of us who tend toward negative thinking, it can be an eye-opener, as long as we make a real effort at writing things we’re truly grateful for. For example, I have to really believe I’m grateful for my cozy little house, and not let myself fall into the yeahbuts (as in, “yeah, but it needs to be painted. And there’s no fireplace. And no verandah.” You get the picture.)

    Last, but certainly not least, remember that the half-full/half-empty thing is a bit misleading. It all depends on if you’re pouring or drinking. Right now, my employment glass is half-empty because I have no job and no good prospects, but my house glass is half-full because it’s a comfortable little house (and small means less to clean) even though it’s not my Dream Home. And actually the employment glass is half-full because no job means more time to spin and knit. As long as I don’t think about the bills!

    Sorry to ramble on so long…

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