How often have we spent more time than we should, just worrying about tomorrow or beyond, or even lain awake re-living past problems and untaken paths? I confess, yes, to all the above, and more! And it has only been in very recent times that I have been able to take hold of my destructive mindset and accept the concept of “what’s been has gone”.
That doesn’t mean I don’t value the past or never mentally revisit it, but I have just about accepted that my history is just that – it’s been, it’s gone; and that has freed me from the curse of constantly wanting to live in the past. Those of my readers who have lost a loved one will know how debilitating that is, and how morose one can become, even when desperately wanting to leave behind those past memories and feelings. Somehow, they steadfastly refuse to be pushed aside and always resurface, almost tormenting you to stay there and wallow in self-pity! Well, “woe is me” has gone, at least for the moment…..
Taking a more positive approach is so logical and, in the past, has always seemed the right approach; it’s the mindset I used for a good deal of my working life as an Industrial Relations practitioner. The trick is understanding the perspective of each side of the situation/dispute and then finding the common ground where both parties can ‘win’. Maybe it’s like that with my past and present; the sweet spot is right there in front of my nose! Even though my rational mind and my emotions still cloud the issue, I think I see the balance better these days and I am beginning to accept that the technique I used at work can also be applied now in my life: Identify and accept the problem, look for alternative solutions at the extremes then find the middle ground that satisfies everyone; in current terms that means putting my mind at rest.
But, as in an industrial dispute, the settlement process can also be painful in a personal conflict sense, where the emotional pain, the physical disruption, the lethargy, and even the imagined hurt, sometimes dominate and preclude an easy solution. And there is always the later possibility of a ‘trigger’ which can unexpectedly disrupt the peace and cause the original unrest to bubble up again. Despite all the real or imagined complexities along the way, the settlement once achieved should enable the protagonists to get on with doing what they are good at, using the result to produce goods and services on the one hand, and better work-life on the other.
By and large, although I am not exactly jubilant all the time, I am at that settled place of equilibrium most of the time. I’m nowhere near like the person I was even ten years ago, but my recent somewhat reluctant discussion with a psychologist and counsellor was in fact really useful; it enabled me to talk about where and how I am, mentally, at this more advanced age and ‘single’ state. In hindsight it reminded me of how I tackled work problems in the old days, and it helped me to see how that similar approach could be useful now.
‘Yesterday’ seems like a ‘hundred years’ of life; it was the time for building a career and a family based on love, it was sometimes hard work, and complex, sometimes fun. But nothing lasts forever and, although we are allowed to reminisce, hey, it’s gone! I don’t need to dwell in the past, and I know tomorrow will have its own problems, but today, well, that mine!