You’re sitting at a table in front of a piece of paper. You’ve finally set aside time to sit down and think about the future. You’re going to do some visioning. It sounds powerful when you hear people talk about doing it themselves, and while you haven’t bought yourself a new organizer yet to do it in, you still think you can actually put something together.
But twenty minutes in, you look down at your paper and it’s pretty uninspiring. Mostly filled with things you don’t want, which you seem to be really clear on. You can describe in great detail what you don’t want. You’re clear on how you don’t want your relationship to be the way it currently is, how you don’t want your job to be the way it is, how you want a different boss, how you don’t want your sex life the way it currently is.
You’re clear on all of the ways that your current life needs to be fixed.
Ultimately, the future you are trying to create is a complete function of what is wrong in the present.
You’re getting better and better at fixing that present, and yet it doesn’t seem to be creating the life that you want. If anything, the more you try to perfect the present, the further it seems like this future you once dreamed of gets.
Sitting in your office chair, you’re noticing everything that is currently wrong in your life. And you’re also noticing your tendency to fix that it’s wrong — your tendency to make yourself feel okay with how things are, instead of just letting it be wrong. Your coach has been pointing to this tendency you have of bypassing your own humanity. Them pointing that out has been exceptionally annoying, because you feel really whiny and complainy when you just own the fact that you’re not happy with how things are.
Having let go of trying to pretend you’re not disappointed with the present, you’re forced to confront an ugly fact: there’s a lot you’re not content with in your life.
This is a stunning realization, because you have always related to yourself as someone who is incredibly content with their lives. It turns out, you were someone who was incredibly good at not being upset by the things that upset you.
Now that that’s off the table, you feel like you’re covered in mosquito bites. Every step in any direction leads to an overwhelming amount of discomfort. Sitting still isn’t much better.
Every time you turn your head, you notice something new that, up until now, you have been willing to tolerate and unwilling to accept your frustration about. All you’re present to now, is how everything sucks.
Your coach congratulates you, which feels obnoxious and also good. They honour you for getting to the point where you are no longer lying to yourself — to the point where you are really allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
And then they invite you to get clear on how life might be different if you could have it go however you wanted it to.
If you got to set your own schedule, dictate your own relationship. If you got to play with your kids as much as you wanted, and do the work that you wanted to do, and were able to leave a legacy the way you want to… how would that look?
It’s really tough for you to answer. You keep sitting down to answer, and you notice how quickly the problems with the present seep back into your thinking.
You notice how exhausting it is to be here. To simultaneously notice everything that you’re not satisfied with, and to let go of needing to fix it before creating the future you want. There is a weird tension between these two things. You’re letting yourself feel what you feel, instead of bypassing it, but you’re also not letting how you feel about the present be a determinant for the future you create.
You feel crushed between this proverbial rock and a hard place, and you notice that what you want to do is escape. You keep doodling on your paper, or daydreaming about anything else. Your mind gets entangled in what needs to be fixed in the moment, going back to that because it’s what you know to do.
You keep bringing yourself back to the practice in front of you; the same way you might bring your attention back to your breath, over and over again, while meditating.
Rather than relating to your tendency to daydream or seek distraction as an indication that you’re on the wrong path, you choose it like it’s a sign of being on the right path.
If you’re doing your work, distractions and fixing will abound.
And so it is.
You’re not sure what comes next, which you realize is part of the point.
Instead of wandering off and fixing the next thing that needs to be fixed, you keep sitting…