‘I’ll be happy when…’
I’m sure we’ve all said these words at some point in our development, or at the very least a riff on them:
‘I’ll be ready when…’
‘I’ll be successful when…’
I know I’ve said all three at some point in my life. And the rest…
You see its really easy to fall into this trap.
We’re conditioned to believe that the world outside us is somehow responsible for our happiness and wellbeing.
We look at our jobs, our partners, how much impact we think we have and we decide that we are lacking. We wish that if we just had the success that the woman down the street has, or the lifestyle of that guy on Instagram then we’d have made it. We’d have won at life.
But I think we also know deep down that if we don’t stop comparing ourselves to others we’ll never stop feeling insecure…
For me initially it was other bands; the ones getting better gigs, bigger record deals, more airtime. Then it was other actors who I ‘knew’ were no better than me but were getting better roles, more exposure, had more dedicated agents.
Even when I first started coaching I looked at others – many of whom had been coaching for 10 years I might add, though we never consider these variables do we? These were people leading powerfully, charging higher-end fees, impacting their clients and doing amazing things. It left me stressed and feeling ineffective.
Because the thing is when we compare ourselves in this way we exist in a perpetual state of lack.
From this place it’s very hard to move towards a life of abundance. We stay at a certain level purely because we believe that in some way external circumstances have control over who we are and what we can and can’t do.
But what if you knew that you and you alone were responsible for your happiness, success, even feelings of readiness?
Other people, places, your bank balance, your work, the stories you tell yourself all have zero effect on how you feel and what you do with those feelings.
The truth is you work 100% from the inside-out. You create your world. And I don’t mean this in a hackneyed new age way but in the simple fact that your whole perception of the world is filtered through your beliefs, history, thoughts and ideas. Your experience is created inside of you.
This is why on some days you can feel motivated as hell about your business and the next day you can feel down and stuck. The business hasn’t changed, in fact its always neutral, so its only ever your thinking about it that informs your feeling.
Its also why on some days you can feel great about yourself and what you can do and other days you feel insecure and uncertain. Again, nothing has changed but your thinking about yourself.
You see, you are optimized for reality. It’s where you do your best work. I don’t know about you but I’m no good when I’m stuck in the past or worrying about the future.
Yet that’s where we often find ourselves when we allow ourselves to get stuck in stressful thinking.
Because of the way our minds work we have the ability to trick ourselves into believing we are feeling something other than thought. We think we’re feeling our work, or something someone said to us, or our partner, or our weight…..
When you see that isn’t possible it brings you back into the present.
And the present is where you’re really, really good at being resourceful, and impactful and less stressed.
When you understand this it means you don’t have anything to fight against.
There’s nothing actually to do here but connect with this truth. In doing so you are back to living in reality. Away from ‘living’ in imagined futures or pasts that can cripple you.
With this realisation comes deep freedom. You are free to create, grow and impact from a place of grounded responsibility over who you are and what you want to do.
When you drop out of the misunderstanding about what creates your experiences you connect more fully to who you really are.
And that person is whole, strong, and capable no matter what.
All feelings are normal and they act to inform and guide us on our journey of creation.
And if you want something it’s all in your reach.
Another pitfall we all fall prey too at times is that when we’re imaging our dream scenario we forget that the person who’ll be experiencing it is still us.
For better or worse, we always take ourselves with us.
And this is a beautiful thing but for many the person we imagine being in those palatial surroundings, who has the perfect partner and dream career is somehow profoundly different to who we are.
So what often happens is that when we get to where we want to be we don’t feel any different. Yes we might be on some idyllic, sun-drenched beach with the waves lapping at our toes, but we still carry with us all those damned insecurities and limiting beliefs that we’ve always had.
This is why a lot of people who experience rapid changes in fortune often fall into depression. Somehow life isn’t better because they’ve just won the lottery and so the spell is broken. If we spend our whole life thinking ‘I’ll be happy when I’m rich’ – then you get rich – and you’re STILL not happy there’s really not anywhere to go.
I was reminded of this recently when I was looking over some old scripts from my acting days and fell on a piece from Before Sunrise that I used a few times as an audition piece. Here Jesse played beautifully be Ethan Hawke bemoans his experience of himself:
I have never been anywhere that I haven’t been. I’ve never had a kiss when I wasn’t one of the kissers. Y’know, I’ve never, um, gone to the movies, when I wasn’t there in the audience. I’ve never been out bowling, if I wasn’t there, y’know making some stupid joke. I think that’s why so many people hate themselves. Seriously, it’s just they are sick to death of being around themselves..
Now I’m not saying all is lost of course, far from it. But what I am saying is that THERE is never better than HERE. And, who you are right now is perfect.
We can never be happy there if we aren’t happy here right now.
And in fact doing the work that creates this moment to moment happiness is also a sure fire way of ensuring you create your authentic desires.
So remember this next time you find yourself comparing your life and career to other peoples or wishing yourself into an imagined future.
You’ll still be you.
But who you are is perfect.
You have ultimate power over what you create in the world. But the caveat is you can only wield this power if you are living in the real world. In a place where you have impact and where you can take action. Spending too long in an imagined future or a past that drags you down is stopping you from being all you can be.
Next time you get lost in this looped thinking, wishing ‘what if’, look down at your hands. Let them remind you that they only exist right now in the present and that’s where you belong too, a place where you can connect with your innate creativity and can take action from a place of grounding and courage.
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Also published on Medium.