When I divorced seven years ago I expected to be married and having kids within two or three years. I got obsessed with getting remarried but I went on so many bad dates with so many stupid horny guys that I have given up on the idea of being with someone. The challenge now is that I can’t decide what to do with all of this time in my life. Now that I can see all of these non-relationship choices I have I’m overwhelmed by them. I am scared. What if I pick the wrong thing? How do I figure out the right direction for me?
Blinded by Choice
(The person who wrote this was very self-conscious about their English and so they asked me to re-write the question, so that’s my phrasing not theirs.)
Okay, so when it comes to your ‘problem,’ I believe this is what the term embarrassment of riches was meant for. I’m very happy to hear that you’ve started to look at what’s there rather than what you perceive as missing. Because nothing is ever really missing.
As humans, we just get attached to certain ideas of how things should be, and then we act like something is wrong when our ideas don’t align with the ongoing, roiling actions of nature and humanity that form our world.
Of course, you have every ability to continue returning to your previous bundle of lonely thoughts for the rest of your life if that’s what you choose. You could re-live that identity forever and no one could do anything about your choice of thoughts but you.
The real question you need to ask yourself is, why would you choosing those ones? That’s worthy of some serious meditation. Because those thoughts hurt. So why choose to think them when they’re so incredibly painful?
Moving away from that pain is wise, as is surrendering the idea of a chasing a relationship in return for living a life spent living your life. Life does not suddenly commence with the arrival of a partner.
But as you let go of the idea of needing to be half of a couple, you are trapped in a cycle of painful thinking about all of your choices. It’s like you traded a singular focus for one that has no focus at all.
Don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t need some highly defined target or a big decision and a grand master-plan for change. You just need to —moment by moment— choose thoughts and experiences that feel good, rather than choosing ones that lead you to feel some form of suffering.
Choosing what to do from your massive list of choices is no different than choosing a partner. You still want the choice to be a net benefit to your life.
For all we know, the ‘successful’ people we see in relationships could go home to a marriage that makes them want to club themselves to death with their own credentials. That person could have a debilitating disease. Or a horrible sex life. Or ungrateful children. Or any number of things that would make their life not so impressive to live.
It’s not whether or not we are in a couple, or how notable we are, that dictates how good our lives are. The only measure of a good life is the percentage of moments that are spent either at peace, or engaged in an activity, or spent loving.
You won’t build a generally life by making one that compares well to others because you made the ‘right’ choices. The aim is to create your own great life by moving boldly and certainly toward your own interests.
Life is a grand adventure. Don’t waste your precious existence on anything other than discovering all of the wonderful intersections between you and this remarkable world we live within. We need no big plan for that. There are no rights or wrongs.
Forget making the right choice. Be fully in the moment you’re in and choose what feels right for you. Any choice will still leave you with consequences both good and bad. But you don’t need to overthink them. You just have to make the next choice in that next moment, using the same presence you used for the choice that preceded it.
In the most basic terms, the road forward is simple and clear. Follow your own interests with no second thoughts. At least that way you’re always going towards what makes sense for the person you are in that moment.
peace and a big hug. s
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.