As I talk with my clients I realize there’s one thing we all have in common to varying degrees, that is wishing situations or people were different than they actually are. As people explain the difficult situation that’s causing them discomfort and how they wish it was the way they’d prefer it to be, I ask them to look at the white wall we are sitting next to in my office. To help them understand what they’re actually saying, I offer this example. I say “this wall is white and no matter how much I wish it was blue instead, it is white.” Their response is usually “but it’s not blue”. Shortly thereafter a light goes on in their mind, and they see their own dilemma more clearly.
The person or situation they wish was different is not. It is the way it is, or they are the way they are. We can’t change that. It’s when we stop resisting what is true and realize we can’t change the person or situation that our own discomfort surfaces. And that discomfort is because we’re faced with the question “now what will I do?” That’s the scary part for most of us. You see, WE don’t want to be the one to change. We want the person or situation to do the changing and as long as we do, we will stay stuck! If you want to feel better, accept the person or situation as it is and decide what’s best for you given the current circumstances. If you prefer to stay stuck, keep focusing on what you cannot change.
I had a relative that I considered to be difficult to deal with, critical and negative. For decades I was waiting for her to like me. I frequently thought, “…this will get her attention, she’ll like this, or, I’ll bet she’ll say something positive in response to this.” It never happened. I wasted my energy and sacrificed my well-being waiting for her approval, why? Because I didn’t want to change me! I was afraid to do what was necessary to approve of myself! When she died I realized the approval I was looking for from her was never going to come. That’s when I understood, “I’m the one that needs to change. I need to give myself what I’m looking for.” What was I looking for? The same thing everyone wants; love, approval, encouragement, connection, etc. I stopped waiting and went to work on myself. I decided my sense of well-being was no longer going to depend on someone else’s choices which I had no control over! I was going to be the one in charge of my physical and emotional well-being. Just having that thought felt better even before I actually achieved it.
What about you? Is there a person or situation in your life that you keep wishing would be other than it is? It’s okay not to take action and to stay stuck when you aren’t in a place where you feel ready to take the necessary steps. In this case, be gentle with yourself. The best thing you can do is be aware that you’re in this place. That’s also a positive step forward. However, if you are ready to get “unstuck”, here are two questions you can ask yourself;
– Given that this person or situation is the way it is, (and I can’t change that at this moment) what do I want?
– What do I need to do in this case to get what I want and to take care of myself?
For extra credit, subtract any self-judgment.
Continuing to wish the “white walls” in our life were blue will continue to bring us the same uncomfortable feelings. Acknowledging what’s true, that they are white, is one step in the direction of caring for ourselves and feeling better now.
With love , Jackie