January 8, 2017
I had decided not do a Theme of the Week during the week of Christmas and New Years, but a theme emerged and was so present- and continued to be so, that my Theme for this blog is really of the past two weeks.
This theme is a big one: Love Your Life Now
Now I could go in so many different directions with this theme, however what was coming up these past two weeks is essentially a variation on “You don’t know what you got til its gone.” I could title this blog just that, however you know that I like to spin towards the positive, and in my eyes, the bright side of “you don’t know what you got til its gone” is: Love Your Life Now.
The theme started with an early morning scroll through social media before I started my work day. I came across a photo of an acquaintance I know who happens to have a physical disability due to an accident. The photo posted was of this person pre-accident and completely able bodied- a way I have never known him. Out of complete curiosity, I ran down through the all comments until I found the comment from the person featured in the picture. Amongst other things he said “Wow, I loved that life. I miss it.” As I reflected in both empathy and curiosity, I simultaneously had a flood of sound bits from my clients stream through my head…
From the person struggling with weight: “I saw a photo of myself from 10 years ago. I thought I was so fat then, what I would give to look like that again.”
From the person struggling with aging: “I used to wish to fast forward through my youth, now I wish I had done so much more.”
From the person who struggles with anxiety: “When I was volunteering in a less developed country I was so much more happy with my limited choices for daily living, now that I am back, I am so overwhelmed. I have way too much stuff and way too much to deal with.”
From the person with depression and low self-esteem after traveling: “It’s amazing what happens in other countries, they don’t have much but they are so grateful for what they have; they take such pride in everything they do.”
From the survivor of cancer: “I never really appreciated my breasts, now that I don’t have them I wish I had.”
From the person grieving a loss: “I have so much more I want to share, why didn’t I say it before?”
I feel emotional as I recount those sound bites. I feel a sadness for the way we live at times, completely unaware and unappreciative. I feel sad for the times we let fear stop us from living fully. I feel sad for the fact that we learn best when we have tragedy, trauma, and hardships.
You may have sensed I am gearing this blog towards yet another proposal for more mindfulness in our daily lives…and at the same time, I know it is imperative that we have a certain level of denial in order to live. I mean, if we didn’t have some layer of mental protection against thinking about all the things that could wrong, we would never get out of bed, never leave our house, drive a car, never talk to people and so on.
We cannot live in fear that things will suddenly change at any moment and things that we love will be take away from us. Unfortunately, many have come to me wth that very fear-based way of living, and you better believe I strongly encourage them to start to suspend that fear and live a risky life that could possibly bring joy!
So if we cannot live in fear because we miss out… and we cannot live in mindlessness and denial because we miss out.. where does that leave us?
I once read an article many moons ago that said depression and anxiety were afflictions of option. The theory suggested that because we have so many choices, so many options, so many opportunities, we feel depressed by not having what others have… or we have anxiety thinking how things could be taken from us. I don’t know if these theories still even exist, but I do think there is something to say here about comparisons.
Comparisons contribute to depression, anxiety, regret, remorse, and a whole host of other difficult symptoms.
If I look at all the sound bites from my clients that I listed above, they all have a comparison. Some compared their current self to a younger version of self. Others compared themselves to other people… or compared their lives to a fantasy of what they thought life should look like.
I bet you were thinking I was leading up to saying comparisons are horrible and should never be done, right? That comparisons are the root of all evil and THE main contributing factory to depression and anxiety? If you thought so, then you forgot about me living in the gray!
Comparisons, by all means, can create some really hard feelings and low self-esteem AND comparisons can also be helpful reflections to us. So my proposal is about using comparisons as reflectors that help us live a more mindful life.
I think there is a reason people travel and have experiences of different cultures: to learn and grow and reflect on how we live via seeing how others live.
If that is true, then there must be some reason for having moments of comparing ourselves to earlier versions of us. Perhaps it is not to make us feel badly, regretful, and hopeless… perhaps the comparison is best used as a reflection, to teach us.
“Wow, I did not have appreciation for my body before I was disabled, and now I am appreciative of all that I can do. Thank you body, for teaching me in the way that you have.”
“Geez, I did not realize how much I love my femininity until I had breast cancer, now I see how important it is to me. Thank you, Cancer, for showing me this. I will embrace all that it means to be a female now that I see this.”
You get where I am going with this? Not only am I encouraging you find appreciation for the life you have now, I am also advocating for you to find gratitude for your difficulties, your struggles, your hardships. Take all of those things that may lend themselves to regret, depression or remorse and choose gratitude for the lessons they have brought you instead.
Love Your Life Now and all the trials and tribulations that have gotten you here. Those struggles have made you who you are, and you are really awesome.
May the year of 2017 bring you much gratitude, joy and love for the life you have lived, and for the life you have right now!
Wishing you much peace on your journey.
Until next week, friends!