According to almost universally accepted wisdom, at any given moment on our journey through time and space, otherwise known as ‘life’, you are where you are meant to be. Nevertheless, we tend to spend significant amounts of time wanting to be somewhere else. It’s the moment when we accept ‘life’ has just passed us by again! This is also the moment when we start creating and sustaining the habit of thinking we are ‘missing out’ on something. Unfortunately, this habit ensures that we are in the state of absence from both the places; our presence is weak where we are at the moment and absent from where we want to be.
There are a number of forms that the ‘I’m missing out on something’ thought and feeling can take.
- Aspiring to Acquire: It usually begins in childhood when we learn to perceive the lives of others to be better than ours. ‘They’ seem to have more, live more and be more.
- It’s more fun elsewhere: When we hear stories of how much fun people had last night or last week we start to look for evidence that yet again there is something happening elsewhere and that we are not in the right place at the right time to be part of the fun.
- I will miss some special moment with some special people: If there is an attachment to and/or dependency on another, especially to someone whom we consider to be ‘very special’, there can develop a tendency to believe that when we are not with them, we may be missing out on some special experience that can only be had in their presence.
- Others may get ahead of me: Our competitive conditioning often takes over and we either drive ourselves onwards to make sure we don’t miss out on the approval and accolades in life. Or we give up, sit back and create an inner fate for ourselves that sounds like, “I am always the one who misses out”, so what’s the point? Often referred to as ‘learned helplessness’, this thinking can paralyze our enthusiasm at any moment and drive us into depression.
- Unlimited Possibilities: In an interconnected world, we are constantly tempted to be present anywhere and everywhere at any time of our choosing. As we find it somewhat difficult to be omnipresent; it’s inevitable that we may conclude that we are always missing out on something somewhere all the time!
- Something is more likely to happen to them than it is to me: If we allow ourselves to become impressed by other people’s wonderful experiences we may start to believe that nothing wonderful ever seems to happen to me.
- The last time I was here I missed something there: The memory of believing that we missed something important in the past ensures we become edgy and nervous in our decision making in the present as we are anxious that it won’t happen again.
And so we become inwardly skilled at creating many reasons and imaginations to believe and feel we are missing out on something somewhere. And yet we know that in reality we can never be anywhere other than where we are. Imagination is not real, it is speculation; curb it. It only creates anxious discontentment.
The truth is, you can never miss out on anything ‘real’ as long as you believe things and places are more real where you are right now.
Learning to be present, learning to be content in the present, knowing for sure that there is nothing ‘out there’ that can give you stable and sustained sense of self-worth and personal contentment, is the only way to free yourself from the gnawing and sometimes extremely subtle anxiety that we should be somewhere else.
Action: At the end of the day run through the events of the day in your mind and count the number of times you thought you would like to be somewhere else. Plan to focus on being fully present where you will be next.
Adapted from Mike George’s article, “Are YOU Missing Out?”© 2010