I was watching a television show the other day and at one point in the episode one of the characters went to therapy. During the session, the therapist looked at the character and said, “You already know what you’re going to do. You’ve already made up your mind and you know what you’re going to do.”
This stuck with me—even after I binged a few more episodes.
It made me think of those mornings you wake up in a bad mood or with a bad outlook, and you more or less decide that you’re going to have a bad day.
Or when you are obligated to go somewhere but you’d rather stay home because you won’t know anyone or will know too many people, etc., and so you decide that it’s going to be awful.
Or, on the other side of things, when you are so excited about something and are so determined for it to be as wonderful as you hope, that you can look past almost anything in order for it to live up to your expectations.
There are many days and even moments when we decide how the future will play out far before it ever happens. I think we do it as both a defense mechanism, to protect us from being disappointed, or sometimes just because we don’t have the energy to change our way of thinking. It’s hard to wake up in a bad mood and then convince yourself that your day will turn around and be great. It’s way easier to settle into that grouchiness and ride it out until tomorrow (or beyond.)
The same goes with taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. I think with most things that scare us, especially things we’ve never done before, we have a tendency to believe that the end result is going to be bad or humiliating or irredeemable, and so we talk ourselves out of the risk all together. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, we set goals that we know we are going to quit, either because they’re too big, too hard or too scary.
But then, sometimes we find something that makes us keep going. We find something inside us that gives us an extra push, an extra burst of courage and suddenly we are farther than we thought we could be.
This is why I think the therapist’s words stuck with me. Because on the one hand, I agree. I have seen firsthand my half-hearted attempts to try something new that I never actually wanted to try, or to do something brave that I’ve already decided I’m too scared to achieve, or to set a goal that I know I’m not motivated enough to complete. I’ve gone into situations, desperate for them to work out, and all but convinced they are the end all be all try for me to move forward with my life, all the while knowing that I don’t have the passion, motivation, or courage to carry them through to the end.
I have also gone into situations with the same fears, obstacles and doubts, and I have found the will to overcome them. Even on days I woke up feeling foolish for even trying, even on nights I lie awake wondering how I could ever achieve what I’d set out to do, even when it would seem that I already made up my mind and I already knew what I was going to do. Somehow I did the exact opposite. And you have to.
We are a resilient bunch, us humans. And while our minds our powerful tools, they aren’t fortune tellers. Our fears can’t predict the future. Our doubts can’t predict the future. But our hope and determination can change it. So, when we are able, let’s not settle into autopilot, let’s dare to work against our assumptions. Let’s reach down deep and find that extra something and go places we never thought we could.