As Geneen Roth says, “Most of us spend our lives protecting ourselves from losses that have already happened.”
I know I sure did.
When I was young, experiences felt wonderfully intense and beautiful. First friendships, first love, first job, etc…
I was all in! And why wouldn’t I be? I’d not yet experienced a broken friendship, broken heart, or a broken promise from an employer.
My heart was wide open and connecting with life in a grand way. It felt amazing.
Years later I realized life didn’t feel that way anymore. Instead of fun, life felt difficult and downright depressing. Instead of greeting each day with the enthusiasm of my younger years, I began wondering how much longer I could endure it.
One day it hit me. I was no longer experiencing life as it happened. Instead, I was seeing life through the lens of every pain I’d ever felt.
I was seeing an illusion and believing it was true. It was like wearing an old pair of scratched glasses and wondering why everything looked distorted. I no longer saw the beauty of life. I only saw through the lens of how it could hurt me.
Now obviously the past provides a lot of value. Learning and evolving through struggle is often how we grow. But when we abandon all whimsy and curiosity for constant worry, the magic of the present moment is lost.
On some level we think the constant worry will protect us. It’s an attempt to care for ourselves. However, no amount of worry can protect us from pain.
In fact, there’s a double-whammy here. By worrying, we can actually cause ourselves more pain.
Our spirit craves experiences. It wants to feel things like whole-hearted love, generously giving of ourselves in friendship, and more. When we let worry diminish opportunities for these feelings, the cravings go unmet.
Without realizing it, we eventually try to fill our needs in other ways. Overeaters often use food. Others may try to seek satisfaction in alcohol, shopping, etc… Unfortunately, these methods don’t work. The cravings continue because food/alcohol/shopping can’t take the place of experiencing life fully.
If you’re ready to step out from behind the lens of past pain — be gentle with yourself. This process is ongoing and takes time. Ask yourself, “If I dropped my past stories, how would I like to feel right now?” Let your desired feelings be your guide. Remember: the idea of dropping the old stories may bring up feelings. Feel your way through the feelings. Then focus your thoughts and actions toward leading you in the direction of your desired feelings.
All my best!