"Tomorrow, you promise yourself, will be different, yet tomorrow is too often a repetition of today." ~ James T. McCay
I have been going to the same bank for 20-plus years and have become known by many of the long-time employees there as a good listener. Recently, I had an interesting conversation with one of the tellers that I would like to share with you. I had no sooner extended my normal "Howzitgoin?" and she began an instant download and diatribe about her 32-year-old son who she can't get to leave home, saying that "He doesn't work, help with living expenses, or even clean up his room." I just smiled and listened intently to her story until she said something so juicy, so ripe for reply, I could not let it pass. She said, "I can't wait for next year to get here." I asked why. She replied, "Because it has to be better than this year." "Why is that?" I asked. "Just because it is a new year, I guess; maybe things will change," she responded. I told her that the only problem with her theory is that life is much like watching a poorly written and produced play: The next act will be no better than the last one. Likewise, she will have the same son living in the same home in five weeks as she does now -- nothing will change but the dates. If 30 years hasn't done it, a week and a half doesn't stand a chance. At that point I said, "To echo Thoreau, 'Things don't change, we do.'"
She laughed and said, "Exactly right ... now tell me what that means." I told her that it meant if she didn't address the problem now, next year would be a repeat of this one. Beyond that, perhaps the real problem isn't her son but rather how she feels about herself regarding her son. I suggested that she had two choices. Either one of them would work if she could make peace with them. Number one: She could change her mind about her willingness to tolerate the situation even a day longer and muster up the courage and self-acceptance to request that he leave and mean it. Number two: She could choose to change her perception and accept him and the circumstances just as they are and turn it into a non-problem. Either choice would require a certain degree of acceptance and change on her part, but the result would be some sense of inner peace.
How about you? Is there an issue going on in your life today that you are hoping will just sort of magically change by itself next year? Generally, that's not how to rid yourself of your problems. As Mark Twain said, denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Perhaps, like my teller friend, you need to look clearly at your options. See which one would honor you and those involved in your issue thus bringing you the most authentic experience of inner peace possible. What can you do today to begin to deal with your problem in a proactive manner? What action can you take? It might include asking a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor for some support and honest feedback. It could also include making space available in your mind and heart for the presence of Infinite Intelligence to be more fully revealed, because with your willingness, that presence becomes an incredible guidance system.
Isn't it great to know you always have a choice? Make a decision today to either accept what is or do something about it. Stop swimming in the river of denial because it's polluted with hidden resentment (toward yourself as well as others) and fear ... and because it gets you nowhere fast.
To personalize these ideas consider the following mindfulness practice:
- Take 30 minutes today to journal. Write down all thoughts that come to you regarding any issues you may have been avoiding (or denying).
- Allow yourself to explore any fears either logical or illogical that could be the invisible strings that support your lack of willingness to deal with the issue. Note your feelings. Are you honoring them?
- Then make a commitment to yourself to take a proactive step toward resolving the issue by writing down the date by which you will do it or simply write down these words: As of now, I declare this issue a non-problem by fully accepting it just the way it is.
- Finally ... take a deep breath and smile. Remember, things don't change, you do.
NOTE: This writing is an excerpt from my book, The Art of Being ~ 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life