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When things should have been different

Updated: Apr 6

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 71

I've been thinking a lot about the hopes that we have for the future and the way that we think things are going to work out.

And I've been thinking a lot about how we can quite often tell ourselves that things have gone wrong, when actually what we mean is: things didn't work out the way that I had presumed that they were going to go.

I think that this became really apparent and really clear to me when COVID first began. And in amongst all of the struggles that people were facing with their emotional well-being at that time, parking the physical sides of it for a moment, but the emotional side of it, I think the people who many of us were really struggling because we had this idea of how we thought life should be. And COVID came along and was a great disruptor to how we thought things should go.

And it was a really good reminder to me that we just make all of this stuff up and we're guessing the whole time. And life comes along and gives us what it gives us, rather than how we think things should be.

When we are getting lost in how things should be, it can quite often create quite a lot of resistance to what actually is in front of us. And I've been thinking a lot about this lately, about how we think things are going to unfold, whether that is where we're going to live, or the kind of job that we're going to have, or the relationships that we have, or what we're going to do with our bodies, or what our financial state is going to be. Quite often, these stories that we have about how things should have been different, or our time has gone, or the opportunity has passed us by, or this wasn't the story that we were meant to be living, has this vision of the future, this picture that you'd painted for yourself, this alternative universe, which is really quite rosy, and everything would be significantly better if we had this thing that we'd told ourselves that we should have.

It doesn't really acknowledge all of the life in amongst that other story. Let's say, for example, you believe that you should have taken a different career path, and you should have got the promotion, and maybe you've been in a career or a particular industry for a long time, and you see people around you who are in different statuses than you and have higher income brackets than you, but you started in the same position, for example, and you might be telling yourself everything would be a lot, should be a lot different. Had you made those choices, had you made different choices along the way, had you had the opportunity to do that?

And this week, I just wanted to sort of slide a little note under your door to remind you that if you got the same position as, then I'm sure some of the people that you would surround yourself with, some of the people that you're comparing yourself to, they still have problems paying their bills, I imagine. They probably still have relationships that they find quite tricky. They probably have some arguments with some family members about the washing up. They probably have someone who's broken their heart that they feel like they should have got over by now, but really they still burn a little flame, for they probably have difficulties cramming all of the things into their diary that they want to get done. They probably have a sense of not having achieved enough and probably have somebody that they're looking at thinking, "I should have made some different choices and then everything would be better".

And I'm not saying this to denigrate the other people. What I'm trying to draw attention to is the fact that when you get the stuff that you. If you got the stuff that you're telling yourself you should have, life would still be quite lifey the other side of it, it would still involve moments of frustration and boredom and anxiety and curiosity and uncertainty and stagnation and sticky bits in amongst all of the joy and love and exhilaration and the happiness that we can find whether we're there or here.

And so I find it really useful when I catch myself telling myself that things should be better, to remind myself that I have the capacity to choose what emotions I want to work towards, no matter where I am. But as long as I'm wasting my own time telling myself that things should be different than how they are, then I lose an opportunity to create that kind of well-being for myself in this moment now.

I have never spent a valuable hour looking at what should have been different. It is only ever useful for me to look at from where I'm standing right now. Where do I want to be and are there any actions that I can take that put me more in alignment with my core values that move me in that direction? It's always about where I am now, rather than what I messed up in the past, so that I don't have the things that I want right now that just aren't useful for me. It isn't useful for my heart, and it certainly isn't useful for my well-being.

So if there is any of those things in your life, and I'd be surprised if there isn't at least one, invite you to just get curious about like sit with it for five minutes maybe imagine what your life would actually be like if you had some of the stuff you're telling yourself would have made everything better.

And imagine some of the bits around the edges that you haven't focused on too much. Where would life actually be pretty similar? What would be some unexpected things that you weren't expecting to feel like they would jar you a little bit, and actually, you wouldn't be too comfortable. Where are all the things that just feel like life is rolling on? It's just the scenery around the edges has changed because sometimes liberating ourselves from this idealistic view of how things could have been gives us a lot more time and energy to focus on creating stuff that we want right now from where we start.

I hope that this is a useful little episode and I look forward to speaking to you next week.


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