Checking your “If Only” Mind

Just a short “check up from the neck up” this morning – nothing heavy today (maybe tomorrow!).

It doesn’t matter who we are, we all have our excuses; our reasons, our “if onlys”.  There are numberless “if onlys” available and we all have our favorites.  They are sometimes small things like “If only I felt better today, I have a headache”, and they are sometimes big things like “If only I didn’t have such a difficult and painful childhood”.  They can be anything – here are a few more:

If only I was younger I could start that career

If only I was thinner I could do it

If only I had someone to love or love me I could be happy

If only there were more like-minded people around me

If only people would understand me

If only I were raised differently

If only I lived in the city

If only I lived in the country

You get the idea – just more excuses.  Maybe you find something in there you’ve said or maybe still believe.  Maybe you can think of more.  Aren’t they soothing?  They allow us to ease that voice in our heads that we should be doing something more; something better; something more authentic.  Ahhh, it’s not our fault.  “I am simply a victim of external circumstances and it’s not my fault that I am in this situation.”  Nice….but like it or not it’s still your situation.

So how do we not let our past experiences define us?  There is the saying, “every experience is conditioned by that which precedes it” – this means our experiences can make us wiser, but how do we not fall into identifying them as “us”?  How can we carve out that slice of awareness which will enable us to not identify ourselves with these “negative” experiences?

Here’s something from The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodoron that further articulates this point:

“We each have our own mixed bag of neurosis, insecurities, perceptions and qualities.  Therefore, there is not one way that works completely for us all.  Nobody can tell us what to accept; what opens up our world, and what to reject; what seems to keep us spinning in some kind of repetitive misery.  This practice (meditation, mindfulness, awareness – whatever you want to call it) helps us know this basic energy very well, with tremendous warmth and honesty, and we begin to figure out for ourselves what is poison and what is medicine”

You know it’s true – how many times have you thought something bad had happened only to decide later that it was really not that bad, maybe even good.  For example, we’ve all known  people who have been fired from their jobs.  Initially this is almost never received as good news, but then they end up realizing that this was the best thing that has happened in their lives! This phenomenon has happened too many times to count.

So, in the spirit of always trying to keep our posts useful and clear in their “call to action”, here’s a suggestion:

Really get into your “if onlys” for a minute; really search for them.  Try to think up all of them and write them down.  It doesn’t matter how many, indulge yourself with them as you write them down on a piece of paper.  Then…take them outside burn ’em!  Turn loose the rage I talked about in my “Rage Walking” bit the other day!  Toss the burning or burnt paper on the ground and stomp those f#*$ers out!!  Yes!  “Engage the rage and get out of the cage” (Hey, I just made that up!)

The act of doing that will shake them loose from feeling so real to you. And in the end, the truth is that none of them are real…

Give it a try, have some fun with it, and have an awesome day!!

the chains