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Notice how often you say the words to yourself:
- The presentation is over
- The school year ends
- Vacation starts
- The weekend
- The kids are out of the house
- I lose 30 lbs
then everything will be better.”
That used to be my mantra. I was always living for the weekend, for warmer weather, less stress, more relaxation. I was always chasing SOMETHING. Living for a time that wasn’t whatever it was I was dealing with right now. Because THEN it would always be better.
Learning to let go of that chase has been a game changer for me. Unfortunately, it happened when my Dad got sick. We would be going through a stressful time with him, and I would say to myself, “Once we get through this it will be better,” and then I realized what I was saying…once you get through this what will be left? When we get through this time, Dad will be dead, and I don’t want that either. That is permanent. I had the realization that there would be no ‘everything will be better’ time in this situation. And I started thinking about all the other times I told myself that, if I lose weight, when we get on vacation and when I arrived at those places life wasn’t magically better, it was different but not necessarily better.
I realized all I was doing was wishing my life away. I was not living my life I was waiting for my life. Sure vacations are great, but I would spend all my time on vacation trying to slow time down so I could enjoy it that I wasn’t present for vacation. I lived my life either in fast forward or slow motion but wasn’t present for any of it.
Part of the reason we wish stressful times away is that we don’t have a comfortable way to deal with them. For me, I would spend so much of my time beating myself up during the stressful time (compounding the stress ten-fold) that it was not surprising that I just wanted the time to go away.
I needed more tools than just telling myself to “be present” or “STOP wishing your life away.” I needed a way to deal with that stress rather than will it away or run from it.
So I started permitting myself to embrace the mess. To embrace how hard it might be in the present moment. To embrace that this particular period in life is HARD, and I am STRUGGLING, and that’s ok. To actively work on lovingly telling my Mongers to simmer down and to offer myself more grace and compassion.
Learning to let go of the chase AND lovingly seeing myself through the challenging times has been a game changer. It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. But it does make life way more enjoyable. Not living in the future allows me to show up for all of my life. It allows me to be present for every minute of it rather than fast-forwarding to just get to the good parts.