I have just entered the second month of deployment, and I was thinking about Murphy’s Law, and every time my spouse seems to be away. I believe it is a common phenomenon in the military community. Mr. Murphy appears to show up whenever our loved one is gone.
Case in point, if the furnace is going to break, well, it will be while my husband is in the field, and it is -30 C outside. Yes, this happened earlier this year. But I was considering, is it really that Mr. Murphy shows up, or is it just life? As a military spouse who has lived through a few deployments, I am beginning to doubt Mr. Murphy and believe it is just life.
“I have a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make me happy.” Matthew McConaughey
Dictionary.com describes Murphy’s Law as the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will. However, I recently read a great quote by actor Matthew McConaughey that has made an impact on me. The actor, who has been promoting his new autobiography, Greenlights, noted, “I have a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make me happy.” I stopped when I first read that and mulled it over—what a concept. If you go one step further, you could substitute the word universe or God for the word world.
The fact there is something out there conspiring to make you happy. Conspiring. Planning or plotting secretly to make you happy? What a mantra to live by. When I look back at my life objectively, I can note the times I had faith and the universe conspired to make me happy, rather than have things always go wrong.
So the question becomes, how do we reframe our minds to go from Mr. Murphy showing up to Mr. McConaughey’s philosophy?
Life on Life’s Terms
This is a tough one, to not take the situations that happen in our lives personally, but to live life on life’s terms. From my experience, life happens, and sometimes it just sucks. I could give you a laundry list of all things that have gone south in the last five weeks, but I will highlight one because I don’t want to give the negative situations in my life energy or power – and words are the power negative energy feeds on (see Your Words Have Power).
Having expanded our pond his summer, to ensure our new fish, which is a whole other story, survive the winter, we created a leak somewhere. Believing the leak was slow enough that the precipitation over the winter months would keep the pond full, I filled the pond up and hoped for the best. Well, the best did not turn out.
The pond is now leaking at the rate of 10cm a day. The fish do not stand a chance. There will be very little water for them to survive the winter once the pond freezes. I will need to fix the pond this weekend, in the cold. Side note, it is snowing right now. In the meantime, I am considering what my other options might be because I have choices. I can use my thoughts to create solutions or focus on how horrible the problem is.
Look for the Silver Lining
While the movie is a hit for some and a miss for others, I loved The Silver Linings Playbook. I have watched it many times. Throughout the movie, Bradly Cooper’s character continues to look for the silver lining in situations that appear to overwhelm him, which I am trying to do when problems overwhelm me. I am trying to look for the positive.
Regarding the pond, another option I have is to bring fish into the house if I can’t fix the leak. I will need to purchase a few items, like a huge aquarium, as there are 18 fish. While the pond is five feet deep, there will be less water due to the leak, a silver lining. Now, I could run with the thought that if it wasn’t leaking, I wouldn’t need to bring them in, but that is not facing the facts of the situation. That is creating chaos in my head because I am not living life on life’s terms. There is a leak in the pond, and I need to find a solution for the fish. That is the reality of the situation.
When You Are Feeling in a No-Win Situation
Let’s face it, there are those days or times when it is difficult to muster up our inner Pollyanna. When that happens, like right now, as the snow falls, I try to do something that will distract my mind from going down a negative rabbit hole.
Breathe: The first thing to do, as I often forget is to breathe. Breathe deep and exhale slowly. Do it a few times. The power of breathe calms the mind and helps to deal with stress. This really does work!
Listen To Music: Find a radio station or create a playlist that makes you feel good. My favourite radio station is in Europe and plays a lot of British artists. I notice a huge difference with my mood when I am listening to it.
Work on a Project: I find cleaning my house helps. Clutter causes stress and depression. There have been studies on this. Clean the kitchen, make your bed, vacuum. Deal with one area that feels overwhelming and begin organizing.
Go For A Walk: Walking is a great stress buster. Fresh air and exercise decreases stress, relieves anxiety, creates a sense of well-being, improves sleep, and relaxes both body and mind.
Watch A Movie: When I am feeling really low, I put on a flick. A few of my favourites: The Silver Lining Playbook, Mama Mia, Mama Mia 2, The Blind Side, and Christmas movies
Read a Book: There is no better way to escape overthinking than dive into a good read.
Reach Out: Talk to or spend time with a friend. With previous tours, I had a fire-team partner or wingman. For this tour, my daughter-in-law and I spend time together on the weekends as my son is away on course. She usually spends the night and helps me with projects, stays for dinner, and last weekend we watched Hallmark movies together. It’s fun, and let’s face it – we all need more fun in our lives.
Your Words Have Power – Use and Choose Them Wisely
I have read many articles and books on this theme. The best one that comes to mind is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I actually bought The Four Agreements deck of cards recenlty and pull one every morning before I begin work. In the lamest terms, our words have power. What you say, how you say it and the words you choose create the type of world you live in. To start small, STOP using words against yourself.
For example, “I am so dumb,” I can’t do anything right,” “I am the worst person.” Try to stop using those expressions and try expressing yourself by using different words. For example, when something goes wrong I tell myself “I didn’t see that coming,” and I try not to take it personally. If you struggle with self-confidence, which leads to negative self-talk, try giving The Four Agreement a read. And most importanlty, don’t use critical or mean words to talk about people negatively.
Ask for Help!
I cannot stress enough to use the resources available to you. I know it sounds like a cliché, but you are not alone. Military Family Resource Centres are there for us: military families. Check out what resources your local MFRC is offering. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am not sure what is available. If you feel overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, reach out to your local MFRC.
You can also call the CF Member Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 and the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546. Both lines are confidential and available 24 hours a day. I have used the CF Member Assistance Program quite a few times over the years and have found it helpful