When reality is staring you in the face, it’s hard to see anything else. You’re not where you want to be and you’re painfully aware of it. How can you not be? It’s a reality you live with and see reinforced by your surroundings every day.
I understand, I’m not yet where I want to be either.
Yet focusing on what you dislike about your current situation and fighting against it only keeps you stuck there for longer.
The mind does what it thinks you want and it's also hardwired to reach for what is familiar. So whatever you focus on most is what your mind thinks you want more of and so it delivers more thoughts and experiences to you that match what you pay attention to.
We never actually reach 'where we want to be'. We may get what we've been working towards but by that point, there will already be another desire waiting in the wings to take your focus.
Steven Bartlett, and so many of his podcast guests on The Diary of a CEO, have noted the same phenomenon. They reflect that the day they achieved the Olympic medal, or made a million dollars or finally bought their dream car was often one of the most depressing days of their life. They had got what they believed they always wanted but what comes after that?
These stories emphasise the importance of building a well rounded life that nurtures you in lots of different areas at the same. Try and resist the temptation to put all your energy into your job and forfeit all the spare time you might otherwise have spent on doing hobbies or activities you love. I learnt that one the hard way.
But the most important thing you can do? Make peace with where you are.
Make peace with it so that you can release the angst of not being where you want to be.
Make peace with it so you can appreciate what you already have.
Make peace with it so that you can calmly start working towards where you want to go without feeling overwhelmed.
Accept things as they are
Focusing on things that feel dissatisfying prevent you from seeing what is going well or what is already making you happy in your current situation. Practising acceptance of what is helps to release that inner tension you feel and creates opportunity to see other possibilities and ways to get to the future version of you that you’re reaching for. It helps distract your attention from the problem or difficulty in front of you and allows you to see more of the good things already in your life.
A simple technique is to start a gratitude journal and note down 3 things that you enjoyed or appreciated at the end of each day.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings
Emotions are information, they’re a really useful way of identifying how we feel about certain things. Instead of pushing against them and trying to suppress them when you’re feeling disappointed, angry, sad try literally sitting with them. This could look like taking some time to sit still without distractions and acknowledge to yourself, ‘I feel……’ Repeat this to yourself or journal about it until you really feel that you accept this knowing in your body.
It may take time but once you can acknowledge how you feel, you’re in a better position to move forward from that knowing.
It’s how you feel, you don’t need to do anything to change it but now that you know that, how do you want to move forward? Where can you go from here?
This is about honouring how you feel, allowing yourself to feel it but then moving forward from a place of empowerment rather than dissatisfaction and stuckness about your current circumstances.
Find the feeling of what you want in what you already have
It’s often much easier to identify what you don’t want or what you don’t like rather than what you do want or do like. Very often, however, if you can identify how you don’t want to feel it can be easier to identify the opposite positive emotion.
If you feel sad, what you most likely want to feel instead is happy. If you’re tired, you’d probably prefer to feel energised and alert, and so on.
Once you’re able to identify how you want to feel, find things that already make you feel that way.
These don’t have to be big things. If you want to feel happier more of the time, start thinking about and noticing what makes you feel good. Maybe you like to see the sun rise on a frosty morning, or love coming home and making a hot cup of tea to relax with, or the feeling of hugging a friend when you see them.
However you want to feel there will be countless other examples just waiting for you to recognise them.
And by making peace with where you are, acknowledging and accepting your feelings and focusing on the positive things you already have in your life, you’ll begin to feel more peace in life and open yourself to the different possibilities that will help you get where you’d like to go.