Now, don’t laugh. While you MAY not have had this EXACT experience, I suspect there is something in your life where you’ve had a similar experience.
Last Tuesday evening I found out that the new season of The Bachelorette had begun…on MONDAY night, the night before!!! Being a big fan of the show (one of my FEW indulgences on television), I was both excited (yeah…new season!!)…and panicked. Did my DVR record last night’s episode? Gulp.
Before we dashed to dinner, I HAD to check the DVR. Was it or wasn’t it recorded?
As I watched myself, I was quite amused.
In that moment, I was CERTAIN my life would’ve been SO much better and more peaceful had I either: 1) Watched the season premiere of The Bachelorette the night before or 2) If my DVR had been wise enough to record the show for me.
But alas. It was NOT recorded!!!!! Darn it.
For a moment, it felt like I was missing some MUCH needed oxygen. My life was a little less whole and complete.
Now, of course, moments before I realized The Bachelorette’s new season had begun…all was quite well in my world. Hmmm.
This small, harmless, momentary reaction caught my attention and got me thinking.
How many times in our lives do we convince ourselves for a moment, for hours, for days or for years that our lives would be SO much better IF ONLY ____________(fill in the blank) had happened or hadn’t happened? “I would be expriencing so much more JOY, so much more WHOLENESS, so much more INNER PEACE and so much more LIFE…IF ONLY.”
Or conversely, I would be experiencing so much LESS pain, so much LESS suffering or so much LESS inner turmoil IF ONLY______________(fill in the blank) had happened or hadn’t happened.
IF ONLY I had remembered to watch The Bachelorette or set my DVR.
IF ONLY I had gotten up earlier today.
IF ONLY the drain wasn’t clogged.
IF ONLY I hadn’t eaten that extra brownie or gone to the gym.
IF ONLY my husband had taken out the garbage earlier.
IF ONLY my computer wasn’t running so darn slow!
IF ONLY my friend hadn’t been 15 minutes late.
IF ONLY the dishes or laundry were done now.
IF ONLY I had already accomplished these 3 tasks.
IF ONLY my husband or wife would do ___________or NOT do _________.
I’m using semi-ridiculous IF ONLY’s for a reason. Why? Because we often react the same exact way to the little things, as we to the big things.
As I discussed with my husband, we don’t consciously say to ourselves “Gosh, my life would be better IF ONLY” or “Gosh, my life would be less bad IF ONLY.”
But, think about it.
Unconsciously, at some level, this is what we’re believing. Whether it is as silly as missing your favorite TV show, or something more serious like receiving a poor health diagnosis or having to file bankruptcy.
The instinctual underlying pattern is quite similar AND quite automatic. Unless, we get conscious…and rise above the instinctual response.
So off to dinner we went to contemplate all the ways we step into IF ONLY, believing our stories of a “better life” or a “life of less suffering.”
Fans of Byron Katie know how useful it can be to apply the four questions of Inquiry and question the truth of these IF ONLY situations. You can apply these questions to YOUR situation.
1. Is it true? Is it true my life would be better IF ONLY I had watched The Bachelorette on Monday night? Well, in the moment…it sure FEELS like it.
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Can I absolutely know that my life would truly be better now IF ONLY I had watched The Bachelorette earlier? Well, of course not. (Although I’m certain other “Bachelorette” fans are empathizing with me big time about now.)
3. How do I react when I think the thought? When I believe my life would be better IF ONLY I hadn’t missed The Bachelorette, I feel a little incomplete. I feel like I’m missing oxygen (figuratively speaking). I feel like an alcoholic NEEDING a drink to feel better. I feel a little more stressed than moments before. (I know you’re laughing out there…but, remember to APPLY this question to YOUR situation.)
4. Who would I be without the thought? Well, since I wasn’t thinking the thought 20 minutes earlier, I suppose I’d feel peaceful and serene. Hmmm.
Turnaround (The final step of Inquiry is to take the original thought and look at opposite statements). My life would NOT be better IF I had watched the season premiere of The Bachelorette.
Any Bachelorette fan knows this isn’t easy to investigate. But, let me try that statement on anyway.
Well, I wouldn’t have had these insights about IF ONLYs. And, I wouldn’t have had this example to write about in my ezine. And, can I ever really know IF my life could’ve been better by watching it a day earlier? Of course not.
If you’re not familiar with Byron Katie’s work visit: www.lovingwhatis.com. (You can also access two interviews I’ve had with Katie at https://www.lifecoachmary.com/byronkatie.htm)
While this may seem like a juvenile example, especially if you’re NOT a fan of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, I suspect you’re having these kinds of “little responses” throughout your life without even knowing it.
SOULFUL Challenge: For the coming week, I invite you to notice when you have a thought that is some version of “My life would be better IF ONLY…” And, if you’re like me, you may smile when you catch yourself and bring yourself back to this beautiful and precious moment. This moment that is EXACTLY like this NOW. Nothing more. Nothing less.
And, so we continue to transcend our instinctual human tendancies. One response at a time.