Reflecting on good memories is something we make common practice of. In good times and in bad, we are even encouraged to remember the good ole’ days. While spending too much time dwelling on the past can be a slippery slope, one way of keeping tabs on ourselves is to stay conscious of the kind of reflecting we’re doing, because it’s usually as cut and dry as healthy reflection and unhealthy reflection.
Healthy reflection comes from a place of gratitude more than anything. It usually revolves around a good life-altering memory, such as the birth of a child or a wedding. Healthy reflections can be tied to other joyful moments too – like funny stories and winning championships – but in their purest form they often have to do with relationships, as relationships are inarguably one of the truest foundations of one’s happiness.
Then there’s unhealthy reflection, which is much sneakier and is what I’m going to write about today. Unhealthy reflection can revolve around these very same concepts, and in many cases can come from a place of gratitude as well. The difference, however, is that it comes with a price tag – a price tag that’s very hard to detect both in the moment and over time. While healthy reflection is rooted in love, unhealthy reflection is rooted in fear. What I’m going to go through now is a list of questions you can ask yourself about whatever it is that you miss, the answers to which can help smoke out fear and move you forward.
Question number one is maybe the hardest one to answer, as it requires the most honesty with yourself: Was whatever you miss only there for your ego?
Was it really something you cared about unconditionally, or was it a source of validation? This is likely to come in the form of anything that, whether you realized it or not, meant a lot to you because of what it did for your image. It pops up in the form of the hot girl that broke up with you who you were really only into because she made you look cool to your idiot friends. It’s the job you used to have that you only liked because it paid you a shit ton of money. It’s the award you won because it showed how superior you appeared to be over your competitors. If you can trace back whatever you miss to something that was ultimately there to serve your ego, the good news is that until you learn what true respect for yourself is, that ego driven hunger will always come back and catapult you into new forms of false validation. The bad news is that your life will still suck and you’ll have to come back to reading this article.
The second question here might require you to rewire your thinking a little bit, and that is: Is what you miss something you still have now, but in a different form? So, is it something you have now and can recognize with more cognizance and appreciation?
A CLASSIC example of this which I have zero shame in using is Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob, and if you’re not a Spongebob fan then get the hell off my site. We all remember the episode of Spongebob in which Sandy is facing a deep depression because she misses her home in Texas. She feels she has no home anymore and decides to leave Bikini Bottom. Over the course of the episode, Spongebob and Patrick go into a panic, showing her numerous acts of love in an effort to make her stay, including the grand finale of turning the Krusty Krab into a Texas style party which included “peas-in-a-can” pie and 10-gallon hats. The 10-gallon hats were enormous water jugs they placed on top of their heads. Brilliant, I tell you.
By the end of the episode, Sandy is finally able to see that she still has a home, it just exists in a new place. She has people (well, underwater sea creatures) that love her, care about her, and are willing to do anything for her. They just happen to be in Bikini Bottom, not in Texas.
I hardly need to say more after such an ingenious illustration on behalf of Spongebob Squarepants, but what this means for you is to seek out the core matter of what it is that you miss. If you miss being near your family, the core of that missing is love, connection and belonging. How do these things make themselves known in different forms? Are there other sources of them that are already in your life that you’re underestimating, or perhaps are there ways in which you can create them for yourself through your actions? This is a great example of one of the many ways that a life coach can help.
Next, we have question number three: Do you miss the comfort of what you thought was security?
This one’s a little odd, but I’ve mentioned a few times in past videos and even in an interview one time that we often seek out what I like to call an “invisible anchor”. The “invisible anchor” is something outside of ourselves that we mistakenly believe will solve a high percentage of potential oncoming problems. So, marrying our soulmate will be nice because we’ll always have that person to lean on. Getting a significant raise will be nice because we’ll always be financially sound. Getting a nice home will be nice because we’ll always live in a safe environment, etc.
Think deeply about what it is you miss; maybe it’s the loss of one of the things I just mentioned. Do you miss this thing not for the joy that it brought you, but because you were really only using it as a means of believing that it would protect you? Was it more of a crutch, and something you only wanted because of a purpose it served?
We fear so much about the future that it’s easy to fall in love with something that will believe to be a long-term savior. We crave things that we think we will always be able to count on because they provide the illusion of beating the unbearable, spontaneous nature of life. The truth, of course, is that these things can come and go as quickly as anything else, and attachment to them is a removal of one’s own power. This question in particular is a good window into seeing how reflection can be based very much in fear as opposed to love.
Next up is question number four. It’s shines light on something we’re all guilty of at one point or another and is particularly useful to ask when reflecting on relationships of the past. Question four is: Are you missing specks of good times that truthfully existed in a sea of bad times?
I don’t know if that’s worded well. Let me get into it a little deeper.
Consider the way you talk to yourself. Many of us make a disgusting habit of highlighting negatives instead of positives, as if to take positives for granted. We do this in a myriad of ways, especially as we become more comfortable in our routines. Are you an experienced athlete? You’ll be beating yourself up for making a single bad pass, having completely forgotten about every other good one. Or are you an experienced waiter? You’ll be beating yourself up for messing up one order, having completely forgotten about every other successful one. The list goes on. You get it.
The keyword, however, is “comfortable”, because when we’re uncomfortable, we’ll flip with the switch and focus on a few positives as opposed to a huge mass of negatives. What this really comes down to is self-sabotage. When we’re in a toxic relationship, for example, whether or not we acknowledge it out loud, it’s easy to get to the point where we focus on all the horrible things happening. Down to the road, however, if we find ourselves missing that partner or that relationship, it’s more convenient to focus on the few good aspects of the relationship and not focus on all that bad that led to the relationship ending in the first place.
In regards to whatever it is that you’re missing, are you paying a fair amount of attention to what was bad about it as you are to what was good about it? On many occasions, we’d rather solidify a victim mentality and favor how our current situation is worse than it was, allowing us to justify missing it more.
We have one final question to ask now, and it, too, pertains to the things we reflect on that we feel went wrong somehow. We have number five, and that is: Do I really just want the opportunity to do it over and conquer it knowing what I know now? So is it really about the thing itself, or is it more about our own ineptitude to handle it at the time? This, too, relates to the ego as does the first question. Many times we’re really only reminiscing on the past because we feel we could do it better now. We feel we could prove, at least to ourselves, that we have the ability to handle that situation better and go back to having a clean – or cleaner- record. In this case, it’s not so much about missing as it is about claiming a sense of power over something that clearly has power over us.
There you have it. The commitment to revealing honest, introspective answers to these questions may not eliminate this missing itself, but it will certainly provide better insight into the validity of it. Whether you come up with “yes” or “no” answers, you’ll be able to shine the light on yourself, and armed with better clarity, be driven to take a more deliberate approach to that which what you miss. Reaffirmed confidence that you miss something out of love can give you the kick in the ass you need to mend the situation as much as it can be mended. Understanding that you miss something out of fear may just be enough to break you free from your pain, reprioritize, and proceed with a happier, healthier life.
I hope this clears the air for you guys. These can be tough questions to turn on oneself, but this type of self-awareness is required when it comes to getting to the bottom of personal struggles, and getting to the bottom of personal struggles is a great way to optimize time, understanding, and ultimately life as a whole. Any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an entry through the contact page. As I mentioned, this type of work is right up a coach’s alley, so if this piece is something that resonates with you, feel free to inquire about coaching with me or with the other coaches listed on the site. Thanks for stopping in!