Recently, there has been an extreme case of stuff breaking around me.

It started eight months ago when the washing machine decided to die in the most spectacular fashion:  Full of clothes, full of water, mid-cycle, and not only did it go off, it blew the electrics for the whole house, while I was out all day.  I came home to defrosted/warm food in the fridge freezer, and a load of soaking wet laundry trapped inside a machine I couldn’t open.

It took a call to the emergency electrician to figure out what was going on… then a few curse words at the machine for being a pain in the ass.

Despite thinking of myself as a generally optimistic person, I had a SEVERE lack/scarcity mindset.

I cursed the machine for breaking, for holding my clothes hostage in a drum full of water all day.  For taking out the electrics for the whole house with it, causing even more problems.

I may have actually kicked a mini tantrum (yeah… I said it, a full-grown adult-sized tantrum at a broken washing machine.  Geez Debbie, grow up already! Ha!!)

But here’s what was going through my mind…

The arguments I’d had when I bought the machine in the first place.

“Why spend so much on a washing machine? You have better things to do with your money”
“What a waste, you could get something just as good for half the price”
“Seriously? ‘You wanted it’, is that really how you justify paying that for a washing machine?”
“Well, I think you’re mad.  You’ve really got to start getting your priorities in order”
“It had better last your lifetime for that price”
“Does it wash, dry, iron and put away your clothes for that price? Cos it should do”
“You’ll never afford another if it breaks. well… not unless you win the lottery.  You’d better get a ticket!”
“When will you ever learn to stop throwing your money away on stuff that’s not worth it?  Ah well, maybe it will teach you when it breaks and you can’t afford another”

How much was the washer?  £600… not the cheapest on the market.  Nor the most expensive.  But it ticked all the boxes for what I wanted, I liked that one, I needed a washing machine, and I had the money for it.  In short, Yeah, I got it because I wanted it. Is that really so bad?

Roll on 6 years when it finally packed in and all those things ran through my mind.  Everyone else’s words magically reappeared as my own

“Well, that was a waste.  I shouldn’t have spent so much”
“Why the hell has it broken? It’s only 6 years old!!!”
“So much for warranties, they always break after the warranty expires.”
“I can’t afford another one.  What the hell am I gonna do?!”
“Why didn’t I just buy a cheaper one and live with that? What a waste”
“Why does this crap always happen to me, when I can least afford it!?  Maybe I should start playing the lottery”
“They were right (again).  When will I learn?”

So after a bunch of shitty thoughts running through my own head, a few ‘told you so’ remarks from those around me, and knowing I didn’t have the money for a new one, I borrowed the money to get a replacement.  I couldn’t get it fixed, so found one for almost a third of the price and had it delivered ASAP.

A bit extreme for a washing machine, right?

Well not long after that the fridge freezer packed in.  It wouldn’t stay cold, but thankfully it was still under extended warranty… so they sent out an engineer to fix it.

Not once, not twice, but three times.

“What is it with you and stuff breaking?”
“You can’t keep anything for long, can you?”
“What are you gonna break next? The car?”
“Now what are you gonna do without a fridge? It’s not like you can replace it.  Let’s hope they can fix it”
“At least you had the sense to get an extended warranty for a change.” (Said by the person who said I was crazy for getting the extended warranty in the first place – go figure…)

This is when I started to get sick of people.  Sick of their opinions, their views on my life, sick of the hypocrisy from their own mouths… just sick of listening to people. It’s when I started to realise how negative everyone can be, and how heavy that weighed on me.

However, I began to notice the things I was grateful for…

Grateful for cool boxes and the crazy winter we were having that didn’t seem to end here in the UK. Grateful for shops that were close by and only closed for one or two days over the Christmas period.
Grateful for listening to my own instincts and grabbing the extended warranty, which was about £100 but has saved me a few hundred here and now.
Grateful for silence and caller ID which gave me the choice to not answer the phone when I didn’t want another earful.
Grateful for family living close enough to allow me to put my frozen food into their freezers before I had to throw it away.

Then in March, I was in a car accident.  Not a major one, there’s no death-defying in this story, just someone losing control of their car on compacted snow and wiping out my car in the process…

The car that I loved.  My dream car as written in my ‘Things I will have… “ book of 2004.  Yes, it was a 14-year-old car, but I loved it.  It was the exact make and model that I wanted back when I was in college.
It was a car my Granddad helped buy for me before he passed away, it had a few niggles, as any car that age would have, but I had a determination to keep it as long as I possibly could because there was no way I was getting rid of it.
The stereo didn’t work.  There were scratches and scrapes, a bump on the back from the previous owner.  Someone had knocked the wing mirror off and screwed it back into place.  I’d had a recall notice from the manufacturer about the airbags… lists of niggling little things that I was determined wouldn’t detract from the fact that I had the car that I wanted years ago, and the one my Granddad had found for me before he left us for good.

So as soon as the car got towed away, it felt heavy.  Then the rallying cries started

“Now what are you going to do?”
“How are you going to cope without a car?” (Erm, I dunno, walk?)
“Well, he should pay for it fixing. It was his fault”
“Well, you screwed that up.  You shouldn’t have been out in that weather”

Then the incessant phone calls’ Have you heard from the insurance yet?  What have they said? You need to tell them you want it back and he has to pay for it fixing.  Your granddad bought you that car, it’s a good car, are you really going to just let it go? Don’t take what they say as the only option.  Demand it fixing.  Make sure it gets sorted out, don’t let them fob you off.  You shouldn’t be left without a car because of someone else losing control of their car.

Every day, up to 3 or 4 times a day… a constant onslaught by well-meaning people who’ve got my back, and want the best for me.
When the insurance company declared it a total loss (which I’d expected) the barrage got worse.  So did my resistance to letting the car go, so I decided to retain ownership after they declared the total loss.
When the car came back to me it was a none starter.  It wouldn’t even attempt to start.

More conversations “tell them to fix it.”  “It worked when they took it, so why have they brought it back in that state? Tell them they need to fix it” “Get compensated for damages” Take them to court!!” (Yes, seriously…)

NO. I’m getting rid!

The stress and headache and earache of having a car that clearly beyond saving was enough for me to not want to answer any calls from anyone or speak to anyone again.  I was stressed out and miserable.  I despised everyone and everything.

“So that’s it? You’re just giving up?  Well, I think that’s stupid. You should stick by your guns and keep on at them until they fix it”

Well, I’m not gonna. I don’t want to.

My well-meaning family, running around having private meetings and calling me up with what they’ve decided is in my best interests.

Friends who don’t drive giving me a “how many cars have you wrecked now?” And putting me as the butt of many a joke and jibe despite it not being my fault…  Trying to ‘make light’ of the situation by declaring my uselessness at every opportune moment.

Keeping a level head is hard when everyone insists on giving you their opinion, and advice, or ‘jokes’ even, or especially when, they don’t align with your own beliefs, thoughts and feelings of what’s going on.

It’s easy to slip into the same negative mindset, and “Why me?” Thought loops.
Am I really that shit with everything? I must be
Maybe I’m just not meant to have anything even half decent
If this is how it’s going to be, then why bother?
Maybe I give in too easily. I should push for more.
I’m a quitter, I give up on everything. {insert long list going back 30 years}
I should fight for what I want, and not back down just because someone else says it won’t work.
I’m never going to have enough for what I want.
I need to settle for less, and be happy with it.
What makes me think I should/could have decent stuff?
I need to get a grip and realise where I am and what I’m really capable of…

It didn’t end with the car… the laptop I was using to keep track of my life and grow my business was dying, fast, the internet went down, then the router broke.  I took a risk and upgraded the laptop because I needed to… chanced my luck as a buy now pay later offer, which thankfully got accepted, then my phone broke.  The phone I use probably as much as my computer… dead.  No contact with the outside world. (There’s a special kind of irony being told you need to call them up to get a broken phone fixed)

There are other things that have gone along the way, smaller things that I use in daily life, but these are the main things that have gone.  The more that breaks, the more I question what the hell I’m doing, or going to do…

“You must have been bad in a past life”

This is a phrase I’ve heard in variations throughout my life… like karma for some shit in a ‘past life’ is coming around to catch up with me and make this life difficult.  Like a giant cosmic “fuck you” from the universe as it gets it’s own back, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Screw that.  I’m not taking that as my final answer.

Years of diving into the personal-development world, especially in the past 18 months has taught me it’s my MINDSET that is drawing this shit show into my life.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP for short, basically a fancy way of saying the stuff we say/think to/about ourselves, got me out of my funk years ago at my lowest state of depression.  I broke free from suicidal thoughts, and off my sleeping pills and antidepressants.  It’s something I’ve been looking into more and more over the past few years.

Self talk is the catalyst for so much in our lives, never mind what anyone else says about us.

It’s almost becoming a cliche, but “what we give our attention to grows”

The more I start to think my life is shit, the more shit I’m going to have to deal with.
So it’s time to jump further onboard the woo-woo train of mindset, delve into self talk and figure out what and how I’m attracting this crap into my life, and more importantly, what lessons can I draw from this?

I needed to start being grateful for the stuff that’s happened.  Good and not so good..

Time to make a list.

Gratitude for the broken washing machine.
Gratitude for the busted fridge freezer, and its determination to break three times to show me more lessons.
Gratitude for the car accident
Gratitude for the less than reliable internet, and broken router
Gratitude for the laptop that decided it was too old for this shit
Gratitude for the broken phone
Gratitude for everything else that’s broken over the past few months, or ever

It’s not easy, but once I got the list of reasons I was grateful to and for all of these things, both before and after they broke, I could find the lessons.

Lessons like:

It’s OK to buy something just because you like it.
No, you don’t have to settle for less.
It’s OK if other people ‘don’t get it’
You don’t have to justify what you’re doing to anyone else.  If they don’t get it, that’s fine.
Sometimes, you just have to give it up and start again.

It’s OK to let go.

Moving on is different from giving up or quitting.
Not everything is worth holding onto or fighting for. Especially at a detriment to your own sanity/happiness/peace of mind.

Sometimes, enough is quite simply enough.  It’s a waste of time and energy fighting a lost cause.

You don’t have to listen to everyone around you.

Just because they say they have your best interest at heart, doesn’t mean they are in alignment with your own beliefs or wants. Sometimes they want less for you.

We all want and expect different things from life.

What other people say about you is their perception of what you’re putting out into the world.

Some people need to be cut loose.

People you love can drag you down.

The biggest lessons for me were

I need to set better boundaries and protect my own energy better.
It’s time to let go of the past and all the stuff I’ve held onto that’s holding me back.
I can’t live a big life while I’m busy trying to hold onto this small life.
I still have work to do when it comes to the never-ending cycle of working on my mindset.
It’s time. Time to become my true self, respect the person I want to be, and embrace it.

The last lesson:  There’s always something to be grateful for, and there’s always a lesson to be learned.

So next time things look like they’re going wrong, sit with it for a while, take a step back, figure out what you’re grateful for, and look for the lessons. Embrace it.  Be thankful, and use it to move forward.

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