We have all had it happen. The love of our life that didn’t return our feelings. Our spouse who let us down through infidelity or death. The child who did not rise to our expectations. Our friend or co-worker who let us down in a time of need.

We have all experienced such heartbreak, disappointment, and devastation. The good news is we can do something about it and that something depends on us, not the so-called perpetrator.

How you might ask? It has to do with perception — OUR PERCEPTION — of the situation. This means doing things to change our mind as to how we look at the situation so we can maintain our happy or positive mood.

Let me give you some examples:

Separate their action from your love or affection for them.

Take the imagined scenario of your spouse committing an act of adultery. You are terribly hurt and believe your marriage is on the brink of dissolving. However, if you take the action and separate it from the person, you will be able to still love them, but not agree with their actions. This doesn’t mean you will or will not stay together. Instead, it means you are able to love them without condoning their actions.

Acknowledge everyone is on their own path.

This means when a person lets you down, it is a way for them to learn and grow. By making this mistake, it allows them to realize the consequences of their action. If everyone acted perfectly all the time, what would there be to learn? Actually, our lives would be pretty darn boring. Realize that others are on their own path of learning, just as you are. You have made mistakes too, so acknowledge that they are allowed to do so as part of their life experience.

Realize their action may not have anything to do with you.

It likely has more to do with them, the trials they are experiencing, and what they need to learn to be a better person in the long run.

Practice the art of forgiveness.

You may have heard it before: forgiving is not for the person who misbehaved. It is for the person affected by their actions. Forgiving is for you. This allows you to let go of your negative feelings and move on with your life without being consumed with emotional turmoil. Learning to forgive is an artform but it is one that we can all learn to do, even if we don’t consider ourselves to be “artsy.” Try to look at the big picture. Try to look at why the person did whatever they did and realize their action most likely had nothing to do with you. Forgiving tends to soften your heart and you learn to be kinder, more loving, and a better person.

React with kindness.

By putting aside your hurt and pain and acting with kindness, you are showing that you can behave above the fracas. Others will observe your behavior. In turn, they realize that uncomfortable situations can still be handled with grace.

Sometimes people do things that are immoral or ‘bad’ because they have internal issues, especially those of self-doubt and unworthiness.

When they observe someone being kind to them even though they have ‘misbehaved’, they may start to believe that they are still loved, and they are valuable or worthy individuals. This aids greatly in their personal growth and development.

Be grateful.

Be grateful for the time you had with the person and how they blessed your life so far. Realize that this one event does not take all those good memories away. Realize you still have much to be grateful for. Being grateful will change the way you feel and subsequently change the way you act towards this person. You will be a shining example to others of how to rise above turmoil and seemingly devastating events. This is important not just for you and the person involved; it is also good for the rest of society because they see how you can still be a nice person and rise above a terrible event.

Spend some time on self-reflection.

If you are unable to move on past this event, look to yourself. Are you holding on to this pain or grudge to punish yourself? Are you doing this because you feel unworthy and deserve such treatment? Maybe the problem is you and your interpretation of the events. Perhaps, you are taking it much too personally. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the Four Agreements, warns us not to take things too personally because other people’s actions seldom have anything to do with us. How we respond to their actions is the part that does have to do with us. That’s the part that is totally within our control because we can change how we behave.

The next time you experience heartbreak, disappointment, or devastation, seemingly due to the actions of another, remember you have control over how you respond to the situation. Strive to do so with dignity, grace, and kindness, just like you would want others to behave towards you.

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