My daughter had a sliver in her foot yesterday. It ached, but was tolerable. However, as she imagined tweezers (which she’s never felt) she was in anguish before we got home. In her mind, the persistent pain of the sliver was better than the relief of getting it out. She was rejecting opportunity based on emotional attachment to “not tweezers.” No matter how much she wanted to go back in time, we can’t. It sounds like an obvious story of a 4 year old’s emotional unwillingness; but I would argue her sentiment was more mature and sensible than the way most adults run their lives.
There is a popular life approach and a far less popular life approach: one has turmoil in the heart while you idly sit; one has peace in heart while you work toward change.
We have other terms for these: talkers and doers; whiners and grinders; the entitled and the earners. And other people have put it more succinctly: get over it!
There’s a chess master who puts it like this:
People see what they think is an advantage. They build an emotional attachment to that perceived moment. Then time moves forward. They stay in the past.
He talks about how people will throw away new possible opportunities and advantages because of a once-imagined advantage which may not even have existed in the first place. These people are stuck running the sentiment anywhere from “but it USED to be” all the way up to “but this is how it SHOULD be.” Have you noticed how similar the phrase “there was a time” is to the phrase “once upon a time”? Yeah. Fairytale stuff.
In tens of thousands of meet-and-greets in the fitness industry I’ve heard it from people who lament the time or money spent from which they ultimately didn’t capitalize. That is, they didn’t actually invest the needed input, and they’re upset that they didn’t win the lottery. They wanted to start a fitness effort six months ago and that time is gone. They wanted to visit the gym they joined, but merely subsidized it for two years. Now, that complaint or guilt is so high in their minds, they are going to actively punish themselves by doing absolutely nothing healthy for themselves while talking a lot about the missed opportunity.
I tutored a number of a college students on languages when I was finishing my undergrad. I can recall one guy asking to discontinue tutoring UNTIL he started completing all the additional work outside of class. He argued that it wasn’t worth it until he could magically go back in time and study all the hours he hadn’t. At the time, the nonsense struck me as unfamiliar. Now, I realize this is common thinking.
I’ve heard the same thing in fitness, among couples struggling, people lamenting career issues, you name it. The emotional rejection of the current situation is so high that people throw away current opportunities or advantages. They’re so emotionally invested in a past which likely didn’t even exist that anything in the present is “too little, too late.” Lol. What?! All we have is the present. If the present today is too little, too late, you are setting yourself up for a life of disempowered pain. We cannot go back in time. We must go forward.
No matter how indignant you are, the timeline is moving forward. Whatever happened one minute ago is over, even when we continue to feel the ripples long after. Our memories help us recall the past. But it’s still past. Going forward, we can change in deed or we can talk.
It’s a skill set of healing, from a certain point of view. There are people who are skilled at healing (moving into the future); and there are people who reject healing (demand to stay in the past). It’s a well-documented phenomenon that grudge-holders live substantially less healthy and shorter lives.
Thus, you can build the skill. But you have to start with making peace about one thing, anything, something, accepting that it’s over, and in deed grabbing the advantages in front of you. The game moved on. And not just that, it’s continuing to go forward. And not just that, it will keep going forward every single time you think you see a new position of advantage.
I catch myself saying or thinking, “here we go again” when advantage shifts in life. But what is the point of this phrase? No matter how good I had it, that was impermanent. No matter how bad I have it, that too is impermanent. The real experience of advantage or challenge oscillates throughout the day, the week, the year. Only because we create a fictional world in our minds do we feel the advantage or the disadvantage “all the time.” In fact, what does that even mean? Nothing is all the time.
The past is over, and even the present is about to be over. Time to grow up in heart. Change is coming, and opportunity is cropping up. Time to get to work in deed. Indeed.