Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I find there are things that I just don’t want to waste my time on any more. Guilt is one of them. If ever there was a more useless emotion, I’m unaware of it. It gets in the way of doing the right thing, makes me feel bad and causes me to resent the person I’ve hurt. Then I find it harder and harder to say I’m sorry, then I start getting mad at them, then I feel yuckier and yuckier and the incident never gets its hooks out of me. What a waste of time and energy. There are better ways to respond, and figuring that out has released loads of resources for me to use in better ways.
Here’s another one: wishing things were different. Wishing I was different. Like guilt, they keep me floundering around in ‘if onlys’ that seem to just multiply until everything is just not good enough. I see it in my patients, too, all the time.
‘If only I were healthy,’ they say. ‘If only I’d started exercising and eating better years ago, I wouldn’t have this problem now.’ ‘If I hadn’t been hurt so bad back then, today I would be happy. Successful. With someone I love.’ ‘Because today I am not thinner/in better shape/with a nicer mate, my boss doesn’t like me and my job sucks.’ See where this is going? Talk about a waste of time.
Here’s a thing I’ve noticed, a thing we all seem to believe: ‘I am where I am, and for some reason – based on no evidence – I believe if I just even say that, I will never change. Nor will my circumstances. I will always be lonely, in pain, unsuccessful, fat, whatever.’ Whoa. I’ve completely enmeshed myself in what happened in the past and what I’m afraid will happen next.
Of course there are things that I want. Wanting and expanding and growing equal life. Touching and learning and experiencing. Ever see a young baby experiencing a crowded grocery store? Their eyes are just so big, trying to take it all in, all this amazing stuff and activity and people.
You know what the baby is doing that is different from the ‘if onlys’? That baby is not judging herself – as anything. Not seeing herself as lacking or not perfect, or perfect even. She just accepts that right here, right now, the world is just amazing, and it’s all right here for her to experience. She is where she is. Life is just, well, kind of like this picture. What a joyous thing.