An eighteen year old recently asked “I am 18 and I have ruined my life. What do I do?”
Got me thinking…
Let me see. I am 35. As far as I can remember, I have ‘ruined my life’ at least 6 times – once at 15, then at 17, 20, 30, 32, 34. In fact, I felt something close to it just 3 days ago.
Problem is I am still alive! Life is still going on…
Bigger problem is – other people have different opinions about my life. Many of them say I am very successful! Some say I have not done enough, some say I have squandered opportunities, some say I am just a cribber who is never satisfied.
What’s even more frustrating is the same people feel different things about my life at different times!
And then it struck me! That was it.
We are not talking about my life. We are talking about thoughts and opinions ABOUT my life. Thoughts belonging to different people, including myself. No wonder they are different. And no wonder they keep changing!
That is the reason I am still alive.
I never actually ruined my life. For a moment, I experienced a sad thought that felt like “ruining my life”.
The label could have been different. Like “Felt like a worthless piece of shit”, “burden on this earth”, “useless piece of garbage”, “Just roll over and die”, “Life was destroyed”, “Nothing worth living for”.
But no matter what the label said, the content of the box would be the same: A sad feeling.
Just because the label was short term “Today was a really messed up day” or long term like “My life is ruined” does not mean either of it is true.
It is still a feeling.
Of course, if I choose to BELIEVE the label – that can determine how long I hold on to that feeling, and even whether I might make it come true!
For example, saying “Today was messed up” will make me feel better tomorrow, pick up the next opportunity and give it my best.
Saying “My life is ruined” will make me feel down longer, miss the opportunity, or take it up half heartedly thinking “It’s no use. I screwed my life already”. And I keep squandering every following opportunity.
Once I realized that I was just falling up for the label that my mind was coming up with – I was free.
Of course I could not control the labeling it did(It’s beyond my job description. Plus the mind was doing a great job at what it was supposed to do – label a feeling with whatever labels it had at its disposal, without considering the ‘truth’ of it)
Firing the mind was not possible. It would mean losing the entire experience of life – because the only way I could experience life was through my thoughts.
So I decided to stop resisting and fighting with it. I decided to let it do whatever it did, think whatever it did, feel whatever it felt. No interfering.
But I retained my right to pay attention or to ignore those thoughts.
So even though I keep experiencing the outputs of my mind from time to time that “I am wasting my life”, “Will I ever achieve what I want to achieve”, “Maybe I am just an impostor”, “Maybe I am not as good as I think I am” – I choose to not pay attention, and simply focus on “OK – what was I going to do next?”
Often I can. Sometimes I fail. I will fall hook, line and sinker for the labels. I will even argue with you to prove that they are FACTS! That I really suck! That you are just focusing on the superficial aspects! That you just don’t understand how I truly suck!!
Until I don’t. And then I get back again to the next step.
Life’s been working out fine as of now. I am sure your’s will too. Just keep breathing 🙂