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Updated: May 10, 2022

Written By Nanci Sherman

What happens for the rest of your life depends upon each choice you make from this moment on.

A ways back, I went to a therapist once because I was feeling “stuck.” I was living with Sam whom I knew I wouldn’t marry. I ignored wasting his and my time because my career was taking off, I loved our home in the Bay Area and didn’t want to leave my golden retrievers motherless. I spent every weekend on the phone with friends debating whether I should go or stay. My reluctance eventually signaled my brain to take over this dilemma.

Brain sourced a meeting for me at an industry event where I met a striking man who was as dissimilar from Sam as could be. From the first words he spoke I was entranced. We went out for drinks that night. He asked me where I wanted to be married. “I suggest Paris,” he said as he stared me down with those baby blacks. Talk about a manipulator. I already started inventing my new future only to find out it was just a come-on. Soon thereafter he revealed terrible character traits, and then dumped me, but not before I was daydreaming about my ensemble.

Schmuck or not, I enlisted in therapy to “find out” how to get over him and my dashed expectations. My therapist was a doll. I agreed with everything she pointed out. However, the therapy didn’t work because the bottom line is I was afraid of making a change. I am not blasting the profession. Certainly, it has helped people, but if you aren’t open to change, your story, your drama will just keep on keepin’ on.

We make hundreds of choices every day. What to eat. What to wear. What to do. Our future is built on a string of days like today. That’s great if you are loving life. My “Aha” moment came when I realized I was giving harbor to the same complaints day after day. Until we are honest with ourselves about them, tomorrow will end up like Groundhog Day ( the movie depicting Bill Murray’s character doomed to live the same day over through eternity).

I thought, “I could look at my complaints as my destiny or the beginning of a new tomorrow. They are there to tell us something must change.” Ironically, our comfort zones aren’t comfortable in the long run. The past repeats itself until we take care of our complaints one way or another, but lying to ourselves will continue the vicious circle. Your vicious cycle is putting kids through college.

This is what your higher consciousness Five-Minute Therapist would ask you to consider:

“So your mother slapped you as a child if you didn’t please her. What are you going to do about it now? If you are still upset, she is slapping you around at this moment.”

“At the end of your life, do you want to regret not getting what you wanted because you were afraid someone would hit you again?”

“Every time we complain about something, we pinch ourselves off from happiness in the current moment. Complaints are our teachers.”

“Inside every complaint is a request.” I repeat. “Inside every complaint is a request.”

WOW! When we turn it around like that we become solution-oriented rather than a broken record. If I don’t want to live my life in this career, what interests me?

When we complain, there are only two ways to live in peace. Accept the status quo or move on. To stay in complaint mode kills our life force. Thank your Five Minute Therapist and go out for a breath of fresh air.

Nothing lasts forever. Moving on takes desire and courage. The etymology of the word courage is from Latin, meaning from the heart. Wanting to be free of a relationship, we can reason “I have been with him twenty years. How can I throw that out?” You can’t. You lived that already. The only question is what do I want to have, how do I want to feel, and where do I want to be between now and my last breath? If you have any complaints, look to see what the request is. That inquiry could start now - at this moment with eyes forward.

Moral of the story

I dithered for five years already knowing it was time to leave the relationship with Sam regardless of the dogs, the house, or the job. Looking back, I realized I had never analyzed why I stayed so long. I can see how it was a survival response that is rooted in the reptilian (limbic) part of our brain. I stayed with Sam because I thought he wouldn’t leave me and I’d be safe. That’s “lower consciousness” if you will.

As Robert Redford’s character stated in the movie The Horse Whisperer, “Knowing is the easy part, saying it out loud is the hard part.” Always speak your truth to yourself. Our biggest regrets are not in our actions but in the action we never took.

Gain and loss are inextricably tied together.

Session over.

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