February 2nd is Groundhog Day. And while we wait to find out if it’ll be 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring, all I can think about is weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) waking up to yet another morning of “I Got You Babe.”
If you don’t remember the film, here’s the gist: Phil’s a TV weatherman who is not at all happy when he gets sent to Punxsatawney, P.A., to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. Through a strange set of circumstances, he is stuck in a time loop, waking up day after day to find that it’s 6 a.m. on February 2nd. At first, Phil uses this knowledge for selfish purposes. Then when he realizes he can’t escape Groundhog Day, he attempts suicide. But that doesn’t work either. Finally, he focuses on becoming a better person, and lo and behold, he wakes up to a new day.
The film has been described as an “allegory of self-improvement,” suggesting that happiness can only be achieved by placing others’ needs above our own.
I’m no Roger Ebert, but I took from it a slightly different spin on the lesson:
Accept the things you cannot change, and focus on the ones you can.
While we don’t wake up to the same actual day each morning, going through a trauma like divorce can feel as if each day is nothing more than a (challenging) repeat of the last. As if you’re stuck in a time warp with no forward momentum. Your personal Groundhog Day hell.
You getting where I’m going with this analogy?
Ok. Now how do you get out?
It starts with acceptance. It’s really hard to accept things we don’t like. But banging your head against the wall trying to change something that can’t be changed won’t do anything. Life is hard and sometimes things are what they are no matter how much we wish otherwise. Acceptance takes time. If you’re really struggling, try just floating around the idea of acceptance. Saying “I am open to the possibility that I can accept this” is a good start.
Now, what do you have the power to change? Take a few minutes to think about how you spend each day. What is one thing you can do every day that will better serve you? It doesn’t have to be monumental. It could be getting out of bed 30 minutes earlier tomorrow to do something for yourself. (For a great read on how to motivate and take action on a goal, check out The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.) Or finding a better way to react when you get that nasty text from your ex. Or hitting the stop button on that little voice inside your head, and telling yourself you CAN instead of can’t.
Taking control isn’t easy. It’s scary to break out of your comfort zone. To do something different than you’re used to, even when it’s something positive. But we gain strength, courage, and confidence from doing so.
So today, tell yourself you’ll take one step towards accepting the things you can’t change. And another step towards focusing on the things you can. Experiencing “small wins” can be a surprisingly powerful way to help prevent your own personal Groundhog Day.