Highs and Lows


You already know this from your life experiences, but let me make it absolutely clear: Over the course of your life, you will go through plenty of highs and lows. Some of these experiences will be hugely significant while others will be relatively minor. Truthfully, there is very little that we can do to control all the circumstances that contribute to these types of moments. Even if we do all we can to ward them off, low moments are genuinely unavoidable. No amount of money, success, or security can protect us from pain in relationships, unexpected health issues, fluke accidents, or any number of other events that bring low moments.

Your family life will have highs and lows. Your married life will have them too. So will your personal life. And I’m not talking theoretically here; I’m speaking from experience. For the first 50 years of my life, I was a person who had really high highs and really low lows. Over the past decade, I’ve been working at becoming steadier, and I’m seeing the difference it makes in my life and relationships. Sure, I still have the impulse to mope and feel sorry for myself when I’m living through a low moment. And I still probably become a little too un-grounded while I’m living through a high moment. But I’ve been working hard and I’m getting a lot better at not allowing my circumstances to dictate my mood and actions. I’m finding that makes me more reliable for other people, and it makes me more secure and steady in my own personal life.

I would challenge everybody reading this to take a quick inventory of yourself right now. Do you find that your mood (and, by extension, your words and actions) are based primarily on your current circumstances? Are you sometimes too high and sometimes too low? If so, take a moment to think about what it would take for you to become steadier and more stable. To be clear, I don’t mean that you should work to suppress your emotional life. I mean that it’s important to find some ways to remind yourself that just because you feel a strong emotion, that doesn’t always mean that you need to act on it. It also doesn’t mean you need to let your mood swing wildly in sync with that strong emotion.

So much of life is working to adjust our words and actions to set ourselves up to make healthy choices. The same way that we sometimes have to act in a way that doesn’t line up with our emotional state when we choose to go work out or take care of that daunting task on our to-do list, we may need to work to do the same thing when it comes to how we act in our relationships. Just because we’re feeling low, that doesn’t give us the excuse to take it out on the people around us. If you’re struggling to see some changes you could make, you can ask your family members to give you some ideas on how you could be steadier and more reliable, even in the midst of excitement or disappointment. That’s a bold step to take, but my guess is that you’ll get some helpful insights (even if they end up being a little painful). It’s worth it because when relationships have that solid foundation, it helps everybody get along better and win more often at home.