Perspective on PERSPECTIVE

Anyone feeling a bit disappointed now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone?  Many people experience feelings of disappointment following significant holidays or events.  Often, it’s because we had big plans to make it the best one yet, but for many different reasons, you perceive that it wasn’t.  There are lots of reasons we find ourselves bummed out after holidays.  Hopefully you can find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone.

As an Army veteran who has spent many of these holidays away from those I love, I am increasingly focused on making the most of the ones when I am actually home.  I would even say I’m desperate to have the best one yet with each new opportunity hoping to make up for lost time.  But despite my most sincere efforts and best intentions, I can’t help but feel that I’m still not making the most of these days.

It was this past Christmas that my 6-year-old son offered this perspective after my wife and I caught Covid right before the big day.  The sickness hit us hard and we could barely get out of bed for several days before and after the big day.  I felt awful, both literally due to the sickness but emotionally because there were decorations that didn’t get put out, presents that weren’t bought, meals that weren’t cooked, memories that weren’t made all because we were too sick.  Upon crawling to the living room on Christmas morning worried my two children would be very disappointed after opening the very few presents under the tree, I was shocked when my son said, “This was the best Christmas ever!”  His words struck me hard.  

From his perspective it was the best Christmas ever and hearing him say it reminded me to put things in perspective.  Much of my disappoint was because I thought the kids would be let down, but learning that they weren’t allowed me to let some of that disappointment go.  His words became the evidence I needed that showed me the hard work my wife and I put into the holiday was recognized and valued.  I also realized that I had an unhealthy expectation for the occasion based largely on what I thought others were experiencing year after year from posts on social media.  I needed someone else’s perspective, I needed to listen, I needed to change my thinking.

Could it be you spend too much time scrolling social media comparing your situation to that of your friends, acquittances or other influencers?  Maybe you aren’t putting weight to evidence that suggest things are going better than you perceive.  Maybe you aren’t listening to the right people’s words.  Maybe your expectations are unreasonable and unattainable, especially when circumstances out of your control interrupt your plans.  Sometimes we need the honest and pure words of a 6-year-old to remind us that we are doing better than we give ourselves credit for.

If you or a Veteran you know is needing some assistance in getting over disappointments, Warrior Battalion is standing by.  Please sign up for free counseling services offered in-person at our Louisville office. Consider coming to one of our healing events that allow you to interact with other Veterans with similar situations.  Stay informed on other opportunities and resources by following our Facebook page and sign-up for our free newsletter here. 

About the author:

Josh Daugherty is a retired Army Veteran and was a Level 2 Master Resilience Instructor for many years with which he taught thousands of Soldiers and family members positive psychology and cognitive processing skills.  He is Warrior Battalion’s Executive Director and an occasional contributor to our blog.

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