Even a bird named Kevin knows that nothing can happen other than what is happening in any given moment. He–I mean, ‘She’–(learn about Kevin’s gender dilemma in Part II) does not engage in regret.
At least I don’t think so.
The idea that something else ever “could have” happened is a uniquely human concoction. We know it’s a complete fantasy, and yet we believe it–enough to trigger real PHYSIOLOGICAL reactions in our bodies! It feels like one of the most painful emotions we experience when we believe we ‘should have done’ or ‘should be doing’ something other than what we are doing!
Being in the business of what gets accomplished in our busy, goal-oriented lives is one of the areas where we beat ourselves up most, burn huge amounts of adrenaline, and habitually add to our own suffering–sometimes daily!
- I should have gotten more accomplished.
- I should have done it sooner or gotten up sooner or left sooner,
- I should not have tried to squeeze so much, or
- I should have done the things that are ‘more important.
And to make things worse….
The intense reaction we experience to this emotional flogging of ourselves (or our husbands, employees, children) is exacerbated because we usually swallow yet ANOTHER faulty concept on top of the first. It is the fear driven past-projected-into-future (regret) story that goes like this: “Because of the way things were or are now unfolding (all wrong), things in the future will get even worse. ”
While we scoff at clairvoyants and crystal-ball readers, we still believe our minds when they feed us this line. We even experience a survival kind of fear from thinking these kinds of thoughts, which project the scary self-loathing movies onto the screen of our minds.
The sad thing about this particular part of the pain it is that it is all based on a story that is VERY easy to shift once you know how: The story of a good or bad outcome; based on the idea that our monkey minds know which particular unfolding of reality would be “best” vs. “worst” in any given moment.
This smoke screen is just our ego trying to ‘play God;’ it is a well-meaning strategy that got reinforced along the way via societal programming (in other words, we all bought into it). The idea that we KNOW what outcomes are good and bad is STILL around (even though it causes pain) because we use it to maintain an illusion of control–as we think being in control will keep us safe.
But safety comes in exactly the opposite way: From the SELF-REALIZATION*** that ALL OF IT is unfolding outside of our conscious control, and that we absolutely CAN NOT know what will ultimately be best or worse.
It’s easy to know when a shift brought about by this recognition of fact needs to take place; we will know because we will notice that we are hurting.
My Recent Relapse into Believing a ‘SHOULD-HAVE’
So once know how to question that thought in a way that is consistent with how our brains work, there is nothing left to drive the little birdie ‘looking over our own shoulder’ and screaming in our ear with merciless criticism.
For example, I thought I was going to have this article posted by 9 am and it is now 11:47 (actually now as I write it is two days later). From where I sat, looking at the facts (given that I need to leave in 10 minutes in order to make the birthday lunch i had planned with my duaghter) the little bird on my shoulder was screeching in my ear,
“You should have been done by now!!!”” “You shouldn’t have done all the things you did that got you to where you are right now!!!”
“What is wrong with you?”
As one of my great teachers, Byron Katie would say, “Hmmm…. what IS wrong with me? Oh yeah, I was believing my thinking!”
OUR RELATIONSHIP to TIME and WHAT GETS DONE begins to drastically change when we know how to question our thinking in a really efficient way that helps us REAL-IZE three things:
1) That it is only our thought that something else ‘should have’ happened–and what we tell ourselves that means about us or the future–that ties our stomach in knots,
2) that whatever DID happen should have happened–simply because it DID (ie, there IS no other reality besides the one that shows up, except according to the meaningless ‘should’ fantasy), and
3) that we can’t possibly know that exactly what takes place is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.
But in that moment two days ago, I was a true believer, if even for a very short time. It was all so real! I believed my ‘should have’ story and the future story about all the horrible consequences it would create to the extent that I was literally SWEATING! The really ironic thing is that it was happening as I was rushing to finish THIS post about how to always be OK with what gets accomplished. (Hahahhahaha!! I love how each module I teach shows me what’s left!)
What a blessing those strong emotions were–I am already so much freer having let that evolve me further away from my former programming. In the old days, I would have beat myself up for a good long while whenever I thought of it (usually until I had ‘proof’ that everything would be ‘ok’ and that could take days, weeks, or years).
Freedom is Quick–Just Waiting There!
Nowadays, I don’t need to wait for proof that the outcome will be ‘good!’ I get my world back with a look at the horror story that was scaring me–the five-star drama entitled,
“I’m the worst person in the world for not planning my time better today, not getting the article out, and not being there for my daughter–and fpr therefore being the sole cause of all kinds of other bad things that will now happen, and I will have only myself to blame.”
Funny how quickly our minds can go to all of that, and how long it used to take to recover.
Once you know how, it often takes only as long to ‘see through’ the story as it took to create it!
Today as I write, I am OK even though I notice I haven’t hit SEND yet. It is now more than two full days later. and I have LOVED watching this continue to evolve!
That is how it works–I get all the right things done (so much more than I used to) and without that old familiar anxiety! (I did a long inquiry with a private client the other day where it became clear that the serious amount of anxiety she experiences mostly harkens back to these same stories about what should happen).
I was soon back in synch with what’s actually unfolding. When I stay conscious and breathing and out of ‘Life’s Business,’ I am like the silent watcher, noticing what I do or don’t do (regardless of what I THINK I’m going to do), just enjoying the show, and regularly meeting deadlines as well as being flexible.
Without all the internal flogging, there is a quiet focus on what I’m doing when I’m doing it–until I notice I’m focusing on the next thing, and the next, and then back again. Without using up all my adrenaline arguing with the reality that shows up, I have so much more energy! And I trust that some point, I will finally I hit SEND (or not) and the timing can be nothing short of perfect because it’s the only timing that showed up.
The OTHER ‘Secret’
No one can know when this article should actually get posted, but I trust this: IT SHOULDN’T GET POSTED TILL IT DOES. That’s the reality of it.
That’s the secret to ending the war with time (which, like all other wars, is a thought-induced war with yourself). But how can we know what should be happening, you say? We can look and see what IS happening! Anything else is meaningless.
It’s like that saying we often quote and attribute to John Lennon: “Life is what happens when we are making other plans.” We chuckle and say we ‘get’ that, but don’t live as if we do.
And even when we intellectually “get” that concept, it still doesn’t just release those conditions because you think you decide you ‘shouldn’t have them.’ They hold tight, as they believe they are saving you! Your mind really has to be able to SEE THROUGH the innocent but tenacious belief driving the panic. (That’s what I love helping folks with!).
What we have been doing in this Group Intensive, is literally UNDOING the emotional charge that our habitual thinking has on us. There is often a quick, complete and tangible shift in how folks feel and function once they see for themselves how little relevancy the survival-driven conditions they have placed on a given situation have to do with their happiness or how that reality actually shows up.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s fun post to learn more about the letting go of the illusion of control to arrive at that free-fall into living and loving without conditions– and how it made for another fun and surprisingly perfect “all wrong” day–including meeting a female cockatiel named “Kevin!”
🙂 Shawn Myea (just another of my names)
CLICK HERE to let Kevin know IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE
***(NOTE: I say self-realization because this Happy Symmetry paradigm we explore, in part via The Work, allows folks to REAL-IZE (make real) themselves what is occurring–by gently seeing completely through each of the concepts that separate them from it. I say self-realizing because it doesn’t work if you just try to believe what I or someone else is saying about it. This is NOT about ‘affirming over’ the thoughts; inquiry efficiently and reliably dissolves the beliefs causing the stress ‘for good.’)