So often in life we make the mistake of believing that our problems reflect who we are instead of where we are. Problems with money, with our spouse, our children, our career, can feel so overwhelming and so immune to change that we get really existential really fast. This is happening to me because I’m a bad person, I’m not meant to lead a happy life, I don’t deserve financial stability, etc.
In other words, this is my fate.
Or what I like to call “the F word.”
The definition of fate is “the development of events beyond a person’s control.” Right there in that phrase we have what’s so terrifying about the word fate, and what’s also so weirdly comforting. If a problem is because of fate, it means it can’t be changed and it isn’t even in our power to change it. We are off the hook. It’s just the way it is. It was destined to happen this way, and not even an Act of God or an intervention from Oprah can take this train off the tracks.
But when we ascribe our problems to a destiny that’s mapped out for us, we miss out on a golden opportunity. Our problems are, believe it or not, a chance for us to improve our lives. A chance for us to change. Maybe not in huge, overarching ways. But in small, do-able, teeny-tiny ways. For example, do you always wait for a certain friend to call you, all the while seething that you are so low on their list that they can’t be bothered to remember you? Call them. Leave a voicemail. Say hi, and hang up. Tiny action. But it can create a big shift in how you see yourself in this friendship. You have gone from passive to active. And all that resentment may now seem unnecessary.
Do you wait until the very last minute to pay your bills every month, hoping that there’s enough money left in your account? Is it a white-knuckler every month as far as your checking account is concerned? One month pay everything early, even if the due date is a few weeks away. See how that changes how you see yourself.
Once you start to make small changes in your behavior, you’ll see that your problems aren’t fate. They are simply a theme. And themes are never permanent. They can always be changed. To help yourself see the difference between fate and a theme, try these three exercises:
- Analyze the problem. Ask yourself, “is this something that nobody could ever change, even just a little bit?” Chances are, somebody, somewhere, in some way, could change whatever is giving you grief. And if somebody can do it, then you probably can too.
- Think small. When we dream up big solutions to our big big problems, it’s easy to give up and cry destiny. This is when it’s helpful to think small. Coming up with small shifts in our behavior keeps the bar low.
- Esteemable acts. Certain acts, even small ones, can give us a much needed boost of self-esteem. Walking misdelivered mail over to the right house, offering to walk a friend’s dog or watch their child if they’re having a crisis, calling the parent to say hi even if they drive you crazy – all of these can have a cumulative effect on how we see ourselves. And if we think more highly of ourselves as people, our ideas of what we’re capable of can shift.
If you want to focus on changing your mindset so that your fate can become a theme instead of an your final destination consider joining my 2019 Transformation Group starting January 30th. This group is open to 16 people who want to go deeper into their lives, uncover their passion, and let go of their limiting beliefs Each month I will lead a two-hour group coaching call over Zoom, you’ll be assigned an accountability partner, and you will get an individual one-hour coaching session monthly. If this opportunity feels right to you, click here to find out more.