Every day we wake up. Every day we think thoughts. Every day we engage in behavior or specific actions. Sometimes waking up feels meaningful and exciting. Other times waking leaves us with a feeling of purposelessness. Some days we wake up and accomplish great things, other times we may look back on weeks of our lives and notice we have fallen into the same pattern. This pattern of repetition can become quite depressing over time, even if we believe we chose all the elements to the repetitious life. Over time as the individual becomes depressed there can be a tendency to ask questions like “Why am I not happy?” or “How did I get here?”, these questions do not lead to an easy answer and can instead lead to more confusion.
The question we need to ask ourselves is “what am I looking for?”. If we are looking for pain, then we will find it. If we are looking for hurt, then we will find it. If we are looking for new experiences, we will also find those new experiences. If we are looking for “another relationship” then we will find it. The key is awareness, as opposed to mindlessly running the piece of paper through the copy machine over and over, we have to stop and change our pattern. The first step is noticing what we are doing, or else we are doomed to run the same piece of paper through the copier throughout our lives.
Now as you read this, you may think to yourself “I am not looking for pain!” or “why would anyone look for pain?”. The process I am describing is so patterned and so ingrained that you do not know that you are doing it. As you have had past hurts and wounds build up in your life, your brain has become trained to look for these patterns again in the future. You may believe that you are looking for a meaningful relationship, but every time you are in a relationship you only see dishonesty and lack of character in your partner.
To put it another way, what do you notice in your life? Do you notice pain, dishonesty, loneliness, or sadness in your life? How often do you notice these things? Are they being noticed every single day? When you come home from work, are you noticing all the good things that happened in your day? Are you noticing the moments when you felt alive and engaged in your work, or are you noticing the bad moments? Perhaps you notice quite strongly the interactions you had with your boss today? Whatever problem you are noticing over and over again, then that is what you are looking for. As you notice and bring your attention to these problems, they become bigger and more invasive in your mind and in your life. Indeed, as you search for them more and more they tend to oblige by showing up in your life at an increased frequency.
What I am suggesting is that we often don’t know what we are looking for and we need to shift our awareness. We need to shift to a true understanding of what we are looking for. If you are looking for trust and honesty in a relationship, then look for those specific characteristics and notice them when they are happening. If you are looking for happiness, then notice with full awareness when you are feeling happy and notice what brought about that feeling. If you are looking for a better experience at work, then start looking for those experiences and notice when they are happening.
Dan Hanks is a Licensed Counselor in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. For more information on how to change your life explore our counseling blog at Cultivation Counseling. Also learn more about the exciting things happening at Northwest College Support