We are always told not to dwell on “what if I had …” situations.
But that’s exactly what I want to dwell on today.
Starting with a comparison
I am someone, who has headaches and migraines on a regular basis. In fact, on most days it feels like I have my personal cloud walking with me, right above my head, where it likes to create atmospheric pressure and spread fog around my thoughts, so that it’s hard to fully enjoy myself, my company or focus on whatever I’m busy with.
Someone, who barely has a headache, will have a hard time wrapping his/her mind around what it means to suffer from it.
It’s the same with people who seem to have a fair idea of who they are and what they want to do with their lives, and have more or less always been that way, even if they have faced detours and downs in their lives.
They own (I love that word) what they say and what they do.
If - within the context - I opened up to someone like that and told him or her, “I don’t really know who I am” they would not quite comprehend what I mean by that. And if I added, “I’m not sure what I want to do in life”, maybe their brain would stumble and fall because they’d have trouble comprehending how that’s possible.
They might even mark me down as someone not worth hanging out with because they might categorize me as someone who doesn’t strive for success but that’s exactly what most people feel drawn to and how we try to impress people!
How my background shaped me
I’m 38 and only just recently have I started not only to understand better who I am, but also how to embrace myself, find a way to follow my passions, and find opportunities that allow me to use my skills.
Though I’m an only child, I grew up in a big family. I was always surrounded by my parents, my grandma, and my five aunts, who were like big sisters to me. Despite my age, I was a bit like the father confessor of the family, who listened to everyone’s stories and seemed to be able to give each person, no matter how different their personalities, a mental pad on the shoulder.
Therefore, since I was a child, I was like mercury – adjusting to everyone’s personality, everyone’s shape, until my own shape became a matter of my surrounding. The more adjusting myself to new people and environments became second nature to me, the more I lost the sense for who I was. Obviously this didn’t happen on a conscious level and also not over night.
Looking back at everything I did in my life, I can now see how I always felt I wasn’t good enough at the things I was doing, that I had to be better, that I had to change.
I was a champion in comparing myself to others and only saw things I lacked in.
As you can imagine, that’s not a healthy way to live your life, as it makes you feel small, puts you under a great amount of pressure, and causes stress in you.
Recently though, my mercury-existence has finally started allowing me to recover my own shape.
I owe that to two books I’ve been reading lately.
Currently two important books to me
One is Sally Hogshead’s “How the World Sees You” and her personality test.
I always had a vague idea of how I function but neither could I put my finger on what made me ME and express that clearly, nor did I ever feel like my personality traits were worth embracing.
Now I know that I’m harmony-oriented, sincere, loyal, sensitive, motivated by principles that are based on fairness, and that I’m nurturing-caring. Because I’m an emotional person, a good way for me to avoid drama is to not let my moods get the best of me. Also, I need to mix more facts to my passionate statements in order to make more sense to a wider audience, and I need to learn how to communicate in a clearer and concise way, if I want to feel heard and understood.
The second book that has been shaking my world in a good way is written by the German psychotherapist Stefanie Stahl and is called “Das Kind in dir muss Heimat finden” with the English translation “The Child in You Must Find a Home”. (Check it out on the section books by clicking here.)
Like most psychologists she talks about how your subconscious has an impact on your behavior. Stefanie Stahl is great at keeping things simple by describing your subconscious as your inner child, and how - through getting in touch with it - you have the chance to transform your awareness, your relationships and your way of living your life.
Thanks to this book and the meditations that come with it I’m learning how my inner child interferes in my daily life and how I need to tell it that the grown-up Seval is not trapped in the world of the inner child anymore. It has to relearn that IS good enough, that is IS being loved, that it doesn’t have to adjust to others in order to create a sense of harmony …
Coming back to my dwelling on “What if I had …” point …
Last night I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds – a crime drama in which FBI agents of the Behavioral Analysis Unit chase down serial killers. I’m an intuitive person, and I love psychology.
At some point while I was watching the show, I started wondering “what if I had studied psychology, had a job that makes use of my skills and that feels rewarding because I do something that’s meaningful to me and saves people’s lives?” I’d probably … PROBABLY … know who I am and had more confidence.
Or maybe not! Who knows?!
I guess there is a high chance I’d be depressed due to the negative circumstances of my job. I’d be trapped in the stereotypical life of a psychologist, who understands and helps other people but doesn’t know how to deal with her own issues and her kids who are nutcases.
What I want to say is that it’s understandable that people tell you not to dwell on “What if …”-phrases since we can’t change the past.
But how about we used the phrase for how we approach our future?
Allow me to share my utopian ideas with you.
If Stefanie Stahl’s book / meditation and Sally Hogshead’s personality test – and ALL the mindset that comes with it - were part of our educational system and not only us but our parents were exposed to the material from an early age on, then we might have more people doing what they actually like and what they are good at. There would be less arguments in the world as a lot of people would understand that the only thing they have an impact on is their own mind and actions and only through realizing what’s going on for themselves in that moment they’d be able to change their behavior in order to reach a positive result.
While I’m in a storm of ideas here let me also throw Dalai Lama, Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle etc. in there and suggest that EVERYONE should occasionally wear a shirt that shows their result of the Sally Hogshead personality test. That way I would have a vague base on how to deal with that person.
I really can’t understand why most countries hold on to their traditional, outdated school education system when there is so much we could change that would reduce issues for the next generations just by taking in all the great contributions of great minds to improve lives.
If more Assads and Kim Jong-uns of this world had a regular talk with their inner child, we’d live a more peaceful life.
Different people, different paths
Everyone has a different past, and a different personality and therefore walks a different path in life. I’m far from saying that the books that had an impact on me will have the same impact on you. Even if a book was meant to do something for you, you might be in a stage of your life where your mind will not want to process it yet.
Timing is everything.
I only understood the value of people and books when my mind was open for them. For me they lay the groundwork for finding that inner peace that comes from knowing who you are and feeling good about yourself.
I think that the only thing I can do is 1) think about how I can use valuable knowledge for my future and 2) share it with people around me to spread the word about all the beautiful tools that are out in the world that can bring us closer to ourselves.
The rest is up to you. :-)