If only I was thin
If only I was happy
If only I was rich
If only life was easy
If only life was good
If only I was young
If only I was talented
If only I could play guitar
If only my bank balance was different
If only the garden weeded itself
If only my car was clean
If only my children were happy
If only my mother was different
If only I could take a year off
If only I was beautiful
If only I had more friends
If only life didn’t suck
If only I was well
If only there was no cancer
If only I could get a suntan without worrying about melanoma
If only things were not the way they are…
Then… and only then… I could be happy.
When we ‘if only’ ourselves, we postpone happiness to a future time. We distract our self with a fantasy about being in a different moment from now. We use our wonderful mind to make up imagined, alternate realities that we think will be so much better.
We may momentarily avoid feeling pain, which is always waiting to resurface, but more importantly, we avoid feeling joy too. So much of our suffering is caused from this desire to eliminate ‘bad’, unwanted feelings.
I used to wake up feeling anxious about money. I would say to myself “I feel terrified that I don’t have enough money to meet my commitments” (one of my most overused thought patterns).
I could go from that thought to “what if I end up in poverty living under a bridge with a cardboard box as a blanket?” in about a nanosecond. This is how I escalated the feeling. And “if only we had more money” was my most common reactive thought followed closely by feelings of hopelessness, shame, helplessness and depression.
The irony is that when we are able to choose and we stop running from the discomfort of fear and accept what is, then life becomes less scary.
Over the years, and with a smidgeon of wisdom, I have learned to sit with my feelings and my circumstances. I tell myself… “feeling fear (or whatever) is OK.” I accept the situation (as hard as that can be at times when I want to force it to be different).
“My bank balance is as it is. It will probably change for the better and if it doesn’t, I will deal with any issues as they arise”…
Accepting that I can only do what I can do is OK. Then (on a good day), I look around and I notice the green leaves outside my window, I fully receive the cup of tea my darling husband brings me (instead of snapping at him) and I notice the enormous abundance of my life.
The joy in every molecule is revealed and I feel blessed to be alive in this moment with whatever life brings. I notice the fear and I comfort myself or I seek comfort (from the same darling husband if he is around or I phone a friend or go see my counsellor).
My feelings about my bank balance, my weight, my pain or my inability to play the guitar are not who I am. I am inner beauty, divine life and I am my first nature which is love and which is sublime. And so are you…
So I encourage you to notice the ‘if onlys’ and where they lead you. Notice them in your mind, in your language and how they can actually intensify your pain.
My hope is that with awareness, and on a good day, this might lead you to accept what is happening in the present moment and feel the glorious freedom from suffering which is available and ever present right now.
Lots of love
Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney. Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.
Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.
Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.
Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.