Those are words I’m quoting from Gabriel Bernstein in a live session she did a couple of days ago. Somewhat surprisingly, those are also words uttered by majority of people I’ve spoken to about my messy marriage and job situation. Getting to the point, it’s a fresh start.
Has this difficult period collectively changed the way people viewed life’s curveballs? Did it take a pandemic for us to realise that when things happen to us, we have the power to define them as events with net positive or negative impacts in our lives?
Before we go on, I want to make clear that a virus ripping through our lives like this is not something I would ever qualify as a good thing in and of itself. But now that it’s happening, the best way to deal with the havoc it has wreaked so far is to view it as something we can overcome and come out of much stronger than before. That’s better than the alternative, don’t you think?
So, congratulations? Really? Yes, really! It means we have the opportunity to start fresh. The world is our oyster and the possibilities are endless. Yes, it’s scary as hell. Fear was one of the more difficult things I had to work through in the last two years.
What would divorced life be like? Would I worry about money? Would I worry about ever meeting someone new? Frankly, was the headache worth it? What about the job I got hired for early this year, which I’m not even sure still exists because Covid-19 got the entire project cancelled, what about that? What about my serious health condition, will I still have access to good, cheap healthcare and medicine when I leave Europe?
Even though, rationally, I know I would be okay no matter what, I still entertained the thought of fear. Why? Because I find it extremely hard to truly be present. Yes, I meditate, read books, do yoga, listen to wise people on TED stages and podcasts, the whole shebang, but I still struggle. Plus, my concerns are by no means small, and neither are yours. Of course, we’ll worry. Of course fear can easily creep into our thoughts and be paralysing.
But in the present, it doesn’t make sense to have fear because there is no room for it. When you’re living in the present, that means you’re not micromanaging the future, so there’s nothing to fear. When you’re living in the present, you’re not worrying about past mistakes, so there’s no fear of repeating them.
What does being present mean? It literally means mindfully paying attention to what is right in front of you. Do you notice the traffic? Do you hear the birds? Can you focus on drinking your coffee? Can you focus on your breath? Did you notice the smile your child gave you? Did you appreciate the warm light your lamp cast in your bedroom? Seriously, there are a million things to notice in the present that the brain won’t have room to think about the past or the future.
Look, I get it. I’m a worrier and a planner. It feels like planning for the future or ruminating about the past is ‘normal.’ It feels like it. But what if it isn’t? Just give it a try.
I don’t know where the turning point was. It might not have even been anything related to ‘self-growth.’ Maybe I just got so sick and tired of worrying and feeling like crap that I finally decided to try something else because continuing on in the negative loop my mind was constantly stuck in was just untenable and unbearable.
So I tried letting go. Really letting go… especially of the outcome. To be clear, this doesn’t mean sitting on your ass waiting for someone (the universe, perhaps?) to drop the next opportunity, the answer to your question, or your next paycheck on your lap. No, we’re obviously not talking about magic. We’re talking about focusing on what you can do today and right now that can positively impact whatever the future holds.
That means there are a ton of things we can do: send CVs, reach out to contacts, join dating apps, go to the gym, eat healthily, sleep early, talk to a friend who makes us laugh, watch an uplifting video or film, listen to good music, go for a walk, consider IVF or adoption, organise your finances, clear your closet, forgive someone, the list goes on.
But really, letting go of the outcome is so liberating. There’s no way you can control that, so why even bother? The only thing you can control is what you do today. Truly. It’s a mindset shift that sounds so simple, but is bloody hard to do. But once you get the hang of it, it really makes you feel free.
Here I am, separating from my husband (I think), on shaky ground professionally, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But hey, I’m okay and I will be okay. I don’t know the how or when of it all, but I know that I will be okay no matter the outcome. And so will you.
So are you going through a rupture in life? Divorce? Job loss? Serious health condition? I echo what Gabriel Bernstein said: Congratulations. You’ve been given a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to change your life any way you want, to dream again, to grab all the new possibilities that this rupture brings. I congratulate myself, too.
***What happens next? My guess is as good as yours. Til next time.