Have you ever walked down the street and had to stop and do a double-take because you think you know someone who just walked past you? Or maybe you spend hours looking at the clouds, recognising the familiar shapes of dragons, unicorns and chocolate bars?
We are constantly filtering for that which is familiar. You probably have ‘your’ seat in the lounge, ‘your’ route to work or home, ‘your’ coffee cup, the list is possibly longer or shorter and different for everyone, but I’m confident it’s there!
When you go to the cinema and arrive too late to select your preferred viewing position, do you feel that the movie isn’t quite as enjoyable as you keep glancing to the place where you would have ideally been sitting?
These are example of the things we do to comfort ourselves, to feel in control and safe… we look for what’s familiar!
It’s why the camouflage worn by the armed forces works, because it breaks up the familiar shapes of body and facial features, so we struggle to find the easily recognisable shapes. But this isn’t always beneficial..
It can be the reason that some people will stay in a job they hate, that causes so much stress that their health suffers, BUT… at least they know the job, they know what to expect and they know how to deal with the stress, however ineffectively. People will stay in a relationship they know is no good for them, but at least they have a roof over their head, and someone to share their life with, however unbearable. And what about the ones that do get out, they choose a similar job, or end up in a similar relationship. Why? …because they seek what is familiar because it offers some degree of comfort. Now this isn’t the case for everyone, but how many times has one of your friends said something like, “I just keep picking the wrong type of guy”, or “my new boss is even worse than the last one”?
The fear of the unknown can be a very significant factor in the decisions we make, and yet at some level, even when we know that the familiar is the problem, the unknown can still hold more fear than the known. In many cases it’s only when the pain/stress/discomfort of our current situation outweighs our fear of the unknown that we take action. And yet once we accept that we are not afraid of what we think we are afraid of, but rather we are afraid of what we think, we are set free from the fear of the unknown and find the power to create the future we desire, rather than one that simply reflects the past.
When we let go of the ‘but what if’s…’ and grant ourselves the freedom to see the lessons in every experience, whether we are learning to feel more joy, or learning that we are more resilient than you would have believed, then you will find yourself living more ‘in the moment’, and less in the past (regret) or the future (stress).
Many people will make their own lives more difficult through their own thinking, when life can be relatively easy… if you just let it!