Stop Wishing You Were Somewhere Else
Recently someone emailed me to ask about working with anxiety. They told me that they struggled to overcome their fear about the future and their guilt about the past. They said they just wanted to get back to the way things were before.
As soon as I read this email, my heart went out to them. I know from personal experience the hell and torment you can put yourself through bouncing around inside your own head.
My Sophomore Year
I spent most of my sophomore year of college frightened about my uncertain future and ashamed of both my past and present behavior. I took refuge in drugs, cigarettes, and sex, but none of them changed this underlying fear.
I can remember thinking several times I wish I could just go back to my life before college started. I was so full of hope and excitement about the future. And so full of pride for all the things I had done. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get back.
You Can Never Go Home Again
The reason why I never made it back is simple, that person and that place that existed in my mind wasn’t real. It may never have been real to begin with, but even if it had, that existence had faded. I had changed. The world had changed. And nothing I could ever do, would bring it back.
From one perspective, this is very sad. It’s so easy to reminisce about lost youth and lost opportunity. But in another way, this is very beautiful.
Our lives are not a frozen stream. Our lives are always flowing. And it’s because of that constant movement that we grow and thrive. It’s because of that constant movement that beauty and love opens up to us. It’s because of that constant movement that the world of possibilities is forever unfolding in front of us.
But even though I know this there are still moments where I grasp for branches, hoping to pull myself back to the last rapid and do it again. Hoping to avoid what might be coming around the next bend. It never works and yet I still try.
Stop Wishing You Were Somewhere Else.
The lesson that I have had to learn again and again is that whenever I feel trapped between the future and the past. The only thing I can do, is to stop wishing I was somewhere else.
I may want with all of my heart to be free of guilt and shame, but I will never be free unless I accept and feel that guilt and shame fully. I may try with all my might to hold off the terror of the vast void of the future. But I will never overcome that fear, unless I step into with my whole heart.
You see you can never escape this prison of your mind, by wishing you were free. Instead, the only way to find freedom is to be fully in your cage. To see its bars and angles. And know its rhythms and cycles. Only when we have sat with it, does it become clear that there is a way out.