It’s safe to say that we all have an idealized notion of what we want our lives to look like. While it’s common to crave change in certain aspects, sometimes we get too wrapped up in the idea of something – rather than how it will truly impact us in the long run.
Often times, we become cognizant of the fact that we are getting entirely too fixated on this one particular piece of the puzzle. However, even though we recognize it, it’s difficult for us to simply sweep it under the rug.
We’ll let it encompass our lives and drive our decisions. We’ll allow ourselves to be happy temporarily, until our mind inevitably wanders back to that one individual thing – time and time again.
Ultimately, it all comes down to changing our perspective – but first, it’s critical to identify where it’s happening. Here are a few common ones that just may seem the slightest bit familiar.
1. Let’s start with an obvious one: Relationships.
This one is for the Charlotte Yorks out there, who believe strongly in soulmates, and consistently glorify that idea of the “perfect” relationship.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a hopeless romantic, or even simply having faith in finding true love someday. That being said, there comes a point when you’re just searching way too hard for a fairytale.
A good relationship should take just the right amount of work – while it obviously shouldn’t exhaust you, it should challenge you in a healthy way.
Essentially, nobody likes to be treated like shit. However, if you’re holding out for something out of a romance novel, you should probably take it down a notch. (Or at least quit expecting chivalry on Tinder.)
2. Mental illness.
If you have a Facebook, there’s a good chance that you have seen someone share an article about handling anxiety and/or depression. In fact, I’ve wrote a few of them myself based on personal experiences.
Our society has become much more open in discussing mental illness and how it affects our everyday life. These issues are also a lot less stigmatized than they have been in the past.
However, while this “open forum” style of communication helps to increase others’ understanding, sometimes it can cause more harm than good. You might be thinking: How is that even possible? How could open communication ever be a bad thing? Well, hear me out.
When my anxiety was at an all-time high a couple of years ago, it was helpful for me to read and write about it – and it still is. However, sometimes I would get so caught up in others’ stories that I would almost try to find issues with myself that weren’t really there. Basically, others’ experience gave me an excuse attribute my anxiety to just about anything and everything.
Mental illness is a touchy topic in itself – and I want to be clear that I am in no way belittling its often debilitating effect. However, there’s a crucial difference between acknowledging a problem and letting it completely define who you are as a person.
3. The idea of success.
I work in PR, and a topic that often comes up is how we “define success” in our particular organizations. Here, it’s crucial for us to identify tangible goals and the specific deliverables we need to reach them.
This can be applied to personal success as well – and everybody has their own unique view of what that looks like to them.
Often times, this is when the big bad world of social media comes into play. We inevitably end up comparing our current career status to others, and questioning whether we are falling behind or if we’ve hopped on the wrong path.
We all feel a little lost sometimes – and that’s completely normal. However, it’s important not to get sidetracked from our own vision of what we want – regardless of whether others are a few steps ahead.
4. The past.
Dwelling on the past is a common trap – and it often happens out of boredom or unhappiness. We adopt a distorted view of how things were before, honing in on the good and ignoring the bad.
Consequently, we begin to harbor an unrealistic amount of hatred toward the present. We convince ourselves that the bad times and the stress were non-existent before, and that our lives would improve dramatically if this one particular aspect was different.
All we can do is make an effort to catch ourselves next time we notice this way of thinking. We need to remind ourselves that life is full of ups and downs – things aren’t perfect now, but they weren’t perfect before either.
Plus, many of us mistakenly chase this idea of perfection to get ahead – but ironically, that’s where it slows us down the most.