The (Pretty Destructive) 'If, When, Then Theory'
The holiday season really makes you stop and reflect. And I am no stranger to 'reflecting'! Lately I've been thinking about a mini theory I've recognized is a huge 'player' in my life and in others' lives. I call it the "If, When, Then" theory. It encompasses the idea that you are always thinking about your life in terms of the "ifs" and the "whens." Furthermore, you believe that only if (or when) the "ifs" and "whens" happen is when you're ready for the "then."
If I made more money, then I would be happy.
When I make more money, then I'll be happy
If I had a shorter commute, then I would be on time.
When I change jobs, then I'll start to be on time.
In all of the positive-thinking and feeling books that I've read (many of these books I listed here) they always speak to this idea in some way, shape or form.
It makes logical sense that you should not live your life delaying happiness or outcomes. It also makes sense you shouldn't live your life telling yourself that you can and will do something (or be something) only once an outside factor comes into play. But we all do this - constantly. It takes a very proactive and concerted effort to not think about your life in matters of 'if, when, then."
In an effort to stop this madness in my own life, I've taken myself to task and being overly conscious of this behavior. Every time I find myself thinking or saying "if" or "when," I stop and readjust my thinking.
A small example:
At the beginning of the year, I started practicing hot yoga about once a week. I grew to really like it and looked forward to class every week. It was also nice to break up my gym routine and it just felt like I was really doing something good for my body (and soul!). At some point (between traveling and lord knows what) I stopped attending regularly.
Now that the weather is colder I've told myself that when it's nicer out again, then I will start going to hot yoga once a week. I've told myself that I like to go in the summer/spring more because the showers at the yoga studio are small and cramped (with a 3 minute maximum limit!) and I would rather just go straight home in my sweaty yoga gear than do the whole song-and-shower-dance at the studio. It's easy to do this in the summertime because you can walk right out of the studio - no jacket, no problem.
In the winter - it's a little more complicated. I have to pack additional warmer workout gear to put on over my sweaty undergarments (or change them completely) then a sweatshirt (which then is ruined by sweat) then wear my big coat. OR I just have to bite the bullet and shower in the not-so-lovely showers.
The long-short of it is that I'm using winter as an excuse NOT to go to yoga.
I'm stating: when it's warmer weather then I'll do this thing thats really good for me mentally and physically.
Well damnit, no. I should be doing it now.
So, when this idea of delaying my yoga classes popped into my mind, I actively readjusted my thinking. I told myself I'd give it a go in the winter and adjust my negative thought that "hot yoga during the winter was burdensome." Guess what - I've gone twice in the past two weeks and it's totally not bad (at ALL).
This example is simple and more specific than a lot of the general "if-when's" we all think about daily - about money, happiness, and relationships. But, I do feel confident that because I can adjust these small "if-when" issues, I can also tackle the "big ones!" I think the first step in readjusting thought, is to simply be mindful, so here goes...