Search Google and you can find many instances of this quote or something similar:”Don’t focus on what’s missing…”. It seems very familiar so I know I have heard it at some point in my life. Unfortunately, I filled it away and forgot it, which has caused me a lot of angst.
Throughout my life, I have always wanted to know how the story ends before it begins and if I do not know the ending, I simply create it and rarely is it positive. Having been adopted probably contributed to my strong imagination and ability to create an ending that rarely leaves me “first to the finish line”. One of my earliest memories is being told, “your mother had a bunch of other kids and she could not keep you”. It was not said with malice or with any indication that my mother was a terrible person, it was simply a fact and stated as such.
During my early childhood, I spent a lot of time picturing children playing in a front yard that was void of any grass or toys. In my mind, this was the “bunch of other children” and they were happy. Each time I created the image in my head and was forced to return to real life, I never did so without thinking, “What was wrong with me? Why did she keep the other children and not me?” This way of thinking, how much is missing, was implanted in me early and it remains to this day. Given the right situation, I believe we all have the ability to overly focus on what is missing.
I am definitely not a “glass is half empty” kind of person but when I let myself start thinking about anything too deeply, I often find myself barreling down a rabbit hole of gloom. Fortunately, I am also able to speak to myself in a logical manner and say, “Let it go”! I realize that if what I am imagining as an outcome is to be, there is no amount of gloom and doom that is going to expedite the outcome or change its course. So, after a while, I simply move along. In this way, I guess I am luckier than some because my thoughts do not ruin my entire day, they only interrupt a few moments. However, this has not always been the case. I have had situations where the gloom did win, at least for a while.
Years ago, on a Saturday, I was at home all day. Around 5 pm, I decided to go to the store. I was gone less than an hour and when I returned, there was a subpoena on my front door. Yes, I had been served. I went into a place of dread and doom. I spent the remainder of the weekend in bed fearful of what the subpoena was about. The one thing that kept coming to mind was not bad at all. It required me as a witness but I kept pushing it away and imagining much worse reasons that I was being called to appear in court. On Monday morning, I called the number and sure enough, I was being called as a witness.
Following the phone call, my first thought and real conversation with myself, was that I had wasted an entire weekend fearing the unknown and now, I could not get it back. I had focused too much on what was wrong and not the millions of things that were right in my life. At that time, I vowed to never let the unknown or the crazy stuff that goes on in my head get the best of me and for more than 10 years, I have been very successful.
Now, I am in a long distance relationship and the doom and gloom have started to creep back. The person that I am dating is, well, as one would describe any person they like spending time with but he lives an hour away, has two young children, and works long hours. Every other weekend we usually see each other and sometimes, once during the week. All is well until something comes up and we miss a week or a weekend and our time apart stretches beyond 7 or 8 days.
At this point, I begin to return to my childhood ways, those coping techniques that are ingrained, and I start to think of all the reasons why this relationship cannot work. The main reason, I want someone who is close. During my most recent relationship doom/gloom session, I stumbled upon the statement, “Do not focus on what is missing.” It was definitely the breath of fresh air that I needed.
I read it and immediately thought, would I breakup with the person that I am dating simply to be with someone who lives in my town? Before I even got to the end of the question, I knew I was being completely ridiculous. The fact that he is not here is what I am missing but when I focus on what I have with him, I see the craziness in any thoughts of ending the relationship. When we are together, we value the time and we focus exclusively on each other. How does the one piece that is missing outweigh the good when we are together? The moment he drops off the kids, he calls. I see everything so clearly when I focus on what I have – the good, the wonderful, and the great.
The ability to focus on what is good and not what is missing is an art form that I have vowed to consciously practice every single day.
It is too easy to get caught up in what I do not have when it comes to certain topics and that approach wastes valuable time and energy. Few things ever work out exactly as I imagine, especially when I imagine the worst. So, what is the point of spending any time thinking about what is missing when there is so much good in all aspects of my life.
Working to keep my focus on what I have will be a good for my mental health but as I progress, I hope to share my accomplishments and methods with others. I hope that it will be a learning experience that produces a lot of good and some day, the guy I am dating will hear about this craziness and we will both laugh…I hope.
How do you handle your crazy thoughts?