Have you ever thought about the amount of time that you have spent wishing for something you don't have? I don't mean planning to get it, but just wishing that life was different.
While a certain amount of daydreaming and wishing can be healthy – I particularly enjoy my own daydreams about Thierry Henry – too much time dwelling on what we don't have and are unlikely to ever get, can be harmful.
I am a firm believer that if you don't like your lot in life, you should try to change it, but there are some things that we are never able to change. I will never be two inches taller, get rid of that annoying kink in my hair or be able to leave a packet of ginger nuts unfinished. I will never erase the years I painfully spent as an agoraphobic and active alcoholic.
Some of the circumstances we spend time dwelling on are things we can't change from the past – some of these are traumas or those life-changing moments that we can spend the rest of our days cursing and uttering the words 'If only...'
It can be humdrum or serious, but things that we get stuck on, replaying the unfairness or the wasted time and opportunities, just keep us stuck and unhappy forever.
What if you could just acknowledge what has happened to you, or unchangeable things about yourself without dwelling on the 'unfairness' of it? Wouldn't that be a relief? I don't even mean be happy about them, or forget them – just accepting them exactly as they are, acknowledging the truth of them without judgement.
This concept is called Radical Acceptance and with practice it can be a powerful stress-buster and a way of bringing clarity to a situation.
What if you could apply it to other people in your life as well? You know that person that always seems to be meddling or your partner who knows how much something annoys you and yet has done it anyway for the Nth time today.
What if you could just accept them unconditionally, warts and all, so to speak. Accepting another person's foibles without constantly fighting against them, can be an enormous relief – especially as you know you can't change other people right? You weren't still trying to anyway, were you?
Radically Accepting something is one of the most liberating feelings you can have – and not only will you feel that relief flooding through you, but as you spend less time and energy focusing on the problems, solutions will suddenly start to appear.
And you can put all of your effort into applying solutions, making things better and feeling good about that. And daydreaming about Thierry Henry, if that's your thing.
by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?