During a recent interview I was asked what advice I would give to my younger self based on what I know today?
That was easy. I never even had to think about it. “Read more books, watch less TV and appreciate time more than money.” It came out like a pre-defined script. But, I’ve been thinking about the question ever since and with a little time and reflection I would like to change my advice. Watching less TV could lead to any number of other time-killing activities and reading books could lead me down into any type of direction, and I like who I have become now.
In recent years I’ve grown emotionally, having pondered my purpose and dived deep into my pain to find out what’s important to me, and I started wondering if there was something I could give my younger self; some snippets of wisdom that would make the journey faster and smoother. We are are all aware that life is a constant flow of change and although we try to influence the change by clinging and avoiding what we like and do not like; we ultimately have no control over many aspects of it. Every present moment will never be the same as the last, this change is what creates so much suffering and pain. Not only my accident but the heartbreaks, bankruptcy and numerous medical problems which all came almost out of the blue, although with hindsight the signs may have been there.
So, I would like my younger self to have the strength to deal with the bad things that are inevitably going to happen.
You cannot teach anybody anything, you can only make them think. – Socrates
For years I misunderstood this quote, it has so much depth and truth but yet it’s really simple. Nowadays I listen more and help by asking questions rather than lecture. Unless it is your own insight it has very little impact. With this in mind this is what I came up with.
‘You’re paralysed. Okay, great! What are you going to do about it?’
Granted by younger younger egotistical self would have taken this advice personally and may have immediately dismissed it. Although, hopefully it would have annoyed me enough for it to have some kind of emotional impact and over time, made me look for opportunity arising from my disability and in return, allowing me to define who I was beyond my accident.
You may have heard this many times, but it is true; life is about how you respond to situations that you don’t want to be in. I didn’t want to be paralysed. It wasn’t my plan, but it happened, and all the anger, blame and denial will not fix what happened.
I’m okay with that. Being okay with it is only part of the story, though. Being okay with it doesn’t deal with it and create something better out of it.
Going back to the advice, it would have ‘in time’ given me the kick up the butt I badly needed so many times. So instead of surrendering to my bad fortune in my given me the mindset to look for opportunities which could only lead to growth and a bigger and better purpose.
It’s important to realise that we cannot push away what has already happened. I’m talking about the events that sideswipe us when we are least expecting it. The type of event that we cannot foresee, and are therefore unable to prepare or do anything about.
The word paralysed in this advice can be changed to anything. You fill in the blank!
‘Great, you’re fed up! What are you going to do about it?’
‘Great, you’ve lost your job! What are you going to do about it?’
You get the point. Circumstances happen and will continue to happen throughout life. It is what you do next that is the important part. Not the event itself.
So yeah, my advice to my younger self would be a lot simpler than watching less TV and reading more books, but it would have more impact over time. Isn’t that the point, what we do today defines who we are tomorrow and with the right burning question in the back of your mind it is in my opinion inevitable one day it will sink in.
What advice would you give your younger self? Let me know in the comments please, I’m interested to know.