Those two small words – if only – can break a person. “If only I had ….” “If only my boss would….” “If only s/he ….” “If only I were blond or taller or thinner or better looking or more something….” How often do we place envy or despair in the forefront of our lives instead of the opportunities? You can’t be anyone else, as much as you may wish it. That magic wand of turning you into someone else went the way of flying pigs; sorry. If only you had this or that or what or whom, then what would happen? You’ll never know; focus on the possibilities, not the limitations.
Oh, yes, I’m envious of a few successful people, but I only see them in the limelight, not the dark side of their souls. Women’s magazines, “People” magazine, “Us,” etc. focus on extremes: weight, beauty, success or failure. Seldom does “People” tell you the mundane lives that the celebrities live – just like us. Seldom does “Vogue” show a normal-size model – 5’8″ 140. (Who wants to be 5’8″ and weigh 100 lbs? I don’t!) The advertising industry puts “if only” on the screens of our televisions and the pages of our magazines and newspapers. “If only you had this car you’d be smarter.” “If only you used this skin cream you’d be 15 years younger.” “If only you ate this fast food you’d be complete.” “If only you had this toy your child’s life would be perfect.” It’s non-ending. And we buy it.
Think about a product you’ve recently purchased because the ad said you’d be better off,now ask how has it changed your life? Really changed? I’m a Baby Boomer who’d love to put on some magical face cream and wake up tomorrow looking like I did when I was 23; not going to happen. But I keep hoping. I do purchase some creams so I won’t look 10 years older. Has that new car made an impression on your neighbors, and if so, what next? Have the diet program, food and supplements made you the “perfect” size you want to be? Some might, most don’t.
Here’s another campaign for us: Change the “if only’s” into “Only I’s.” “Only I have this fantastic personality.” “Only I have this amazing size 12 figure.” “Only I have these funky wrinkles on this face.” “Only I can produce this work, at this time, with this brilliance.” What will it take for you to turn your thought patterns around and compose them in a positive lyric? Your commitment to yourself.
We are such amazing and unique people. We have so much to offer. Write down your successes and keep them close at hand. When life gives you a challenge, focus on your successes, not your failures and you’re certain to have the encouragement you need to succeed again. Jack Canfield of The Chicken Soup… fame, asked his audience members to write down 100 successes in their lives. One hundred! Can you do it? I did. It took some time, but I even got to 101.
How do you describe success in your mind? Do you compare yourself to someone else; therefore, you didn’t succeed? Do you think you have to be something, made x amount of money, live in y neighborhood, or drive some “fancy” car, etc. to be successful? Think again. Did you graduate from high school? college? graduate, law, medical school? That’s a success. Did you ever complete a project at home or work? That’s a success. Do you know how to ride a bike? That’s a success. Are you a “best friend,” great parent, loving spouse or partner, community activist? Have you helped someone? made them laugh? eased his/her pain? given support? These are successes. See if you can write down 100 in the next 30 days.
Rid yourself of the “if only’s” in your life, like the caterpillar’s cocoon; learn to fly.
“To laugh often and much: To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson