Without knowing where we want to go, it can be hard to get there.
But it can be frustrating as hell to know where you’d like to go and not be able to get there anyway.
From the outside looking in, it might appear that I’m coasting my way through life, with no clear plan. But that’s not the case at all. I do actually have a vision for the kind of life I’d like to be living and I’m doing my best to forge a path in that direction. It’s just that the path isn’t quite unfolding according to my wishes.
It would seem that the universe is conspiring against me.
And when things aren’t working out as I’d like, I could easily allow anxiety to arise. Panic even.
But most days—not all—I don’t go there. Because one of the key lessons I’ve learned over the last decade is that there is no certainty in this life. Eventhough I’ve always sort of known it, it’s truly sunk in now. Much as we’d like to control the events in our lives, ultimately the only thing we can control is how we think and feel about them.
No matter what plans we formulate, or what steps we take, we have no guarantees around how anything will work out. And our lives can be turned upside down—for “better” or “worse”—at any moment in time.
That could be a very depressing thought. Or it could be a liberating one.
It is the way it is and our choice is around how to perceive it.
And so, my way out of frustration and worry—or even despair on the dark days—is to do my best to accept what is. To take a long, deep breath and relax. To trust in my innate ability to cope with whatever unfolds. And to choose to be happy with where I currently am, even if it is nowhere near where I’d rather be.
Essentially, I choose to shift my state of mind into a more helpful and supportive place.
To do this, most people need some kind of tool to help them out—something to help embed more supportive thoughts in their subconsious. I use mantras or affirmations to help me move into this more trusting state.
“Mantra” means vehicle of the mind and a mantra is a word, phrase or sentence that we repeat. In doing so, it helps to impress our subconsious and take root as a new, more helpful, belief. They’re relatively easy to formulate but here are a couple, courtesy of Susan Jeffers, that I have found helpful:
“All is well in my world, no matter what it looks like. It’s all happening perfectly.”
“No matter what happens in my life, I can cope with it. I will make it a triumph.”
But one of my aboslute favourites—when I’m alone—is to sing (out loud) Bob Marley’s simple, but brilliant, wisdom:
“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”
Singing is particularly effective—the vibration of uttering the words out loud, along with a melody, seems to take effect on my state of mind much more quickly than silently repeating an affirmation. But, when wishing to appear sane in the company of others, the silent affirmations are a useful back-up.
As my mood starts to lift, I remind myself that what I want may not ultimately be for my higher good. And the universe may have a much better plan for me than I, with my limiting beliefs and limited imagination, can conceive for myself. Now, that may be a whole pile of woo woo nonsense to you, but it helps me to restore a sense of calm.
What I’ve been learning to do is surrender my plan, when it feels like everything is going against me. Surrendering takes the pressure off me to perform or achieve and opens me up to alternative options.
And—sometimes—when I surrender, things start to fall into place. The plan ironically starts to come together when I’m not so hell bent on steering everything in a particular direction.
Other times, of course, I’m taken in a completely different direction, that I wouldn’t have entertained before. And I end up being grateful that the universe—seemingly—conspired against me.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” ~ Douglas Adams
I’m learning to be curious about why things aren’t working out—after I get over the frustration. I’m learning not to attach meanings to outcomes. I’m learning to trust that as long as I’m alive everything I’m experiencing is leading me somewhere I’m meant to go—I just don’t have the map.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo via Pixoto