It’s likely that by your sixth decade, you’ve experienced at least one life event that shook you to the core. It was perhaps significant enough to divide life into two parts: the before and the after. It sent you reeling.
Perhaps you’ve lost a spouse to death or divorce, or you were fired from the career you devoted your life to, or you had a falling out with your adult children. In any case, it felt catastrophic and all-consuming.
In the aftermath, all you could do was draw the next breath and will your heart to beat. Later, you found a way to put on a game face and perform basic functions like groceries, appointments, and home maintenance.
Maybe today your life feels like something between surviving and existing. It’s easy to stay in this place. The brain likes to offer thoughts like:
How can I enjoy my life when he’s not here?
I failed, so I don’t deserve happiness now.
I’m not worthy of a great life.
I’m too old and it’s too late.
We have approximately 60,000 thoughts each day. Some of them are true, and some are nonsense. Some of them serve us well, while others keep us stuck in the mire of regret, anger and resentment. Some thoughts create a self-imposed life sentence of merely existing.
The good news is that all thoughts are optional. The other good news is that thoughts have incredible power to shape the future.
If you’re currently stuck, the trick is to find other thoughts that ring true for you, that generate positive, useful feelings.
What would it mean to live again? Not to exist or merely survive, but to truly live?
To genuinely live again, you need permission. And not the kind of permission you might get from others who care about you and try to support you.
You need permission from yourself.
Permission comes in the form of a thought that is true for you. A thought that you think on purpose. A thought that creates certainty and opens the door to possibility.
There is no right or wrong. There is no moral high ground. You get to do this your way, on your terms, and on your timeline.
You have options:
You can live your life in existing mode. At least for now, and maybe forever.
You can also allow yourself to dream again and fully live the life you have left.
Either option starts with a thought.
If you’re tired of living in a self-imposed life sentence of merely existing, the first step is to identify your current thoughts that are keeping you there. And then challenge each one. Ask yourself, is it true? Is it serving you? If not, what other thought is available to you that would be both true and useful?
Once you find those thoughts, think them on purpose, regularly. Notice how each thought makes you feel. Observe what actions you naturally take when feeling these feelings. Then, celebrate the results you create in your life.
Thinking about what you think about is hard work. The primitive part of the brain prefers efficiency (read: redundancy). It’s uncomfortable to challenge our own thinking. It takes time and effort. But the dividends are life-long.
It will shape your future in ways that you can’t currently fathom.
Can you relate to withholding permission to live again after a life-altering event? What thoughts prevent you from living more fully? If you allowed yourself to dream big, what would you want for yourself?