You know when you are talking about something (a concept, person, event, etc.) and then it keeps coming up, everywhere you turn? Psychologist Carl Jung called it “synchronicity” and wrote that there are scientific and psychological reasons for this. Some people think that it is more of a spiritual force and that God or the universe is trying to tell you something. To me, it is a combination of these: because your attention has been drawn to this “thing”, you now notice and pay attention to other references to it more easily; and maybe you are drawing more of that to you.
The more consciously and clearly you can view and interpret these occurrences, the more you will embrace ideas that move you toward your full potential.
If you are not looking at your opportunities consciously and with clarity; an opportunity that isn’t best for you may appear to be just what you need because it supports an existing mindset that is holding you back, or you may deny an opportunity that could help you move from this mindset.
My most recent experience of ‘synchronicity’ caused me to think into this more deeply and how it effects me and others working to reach our full potential.
A) I watched a documentary about a woman who was abused by her mother as a child. For most of her life, she couldn’t break free of the pain it caused her, and this held her back in most areas of her life; until she let go of the idea that her mother ‘should’ have taken care of her, not hurt her. She said that, after years of therapy and constant searching that didn’t help her find her way out of this pain; studying mindfulness and becoming more conscious and present allowed her to finally realize that ‘should’ isn’t real. Although more painful to look at the past more clearly, she now clearly saw that her mother was not able to do any better because of her own past experiences and lack of conscious thinking. Being conscious and present has allowed the daughter to move forward to reaching her full potential, and more likely to be a better mother if she were to have children of her own.
B) I was listening to the audiobook version of, The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, where she discusses how to determine what you should say “yes” and “no” to. She says that, if you are making a decision because you think you “should”, you need to look more deeply at all the other factors before finalizing that decision. It made me think of a number of decisions I had made recently because I thought I “should”. I didn’t consciously realize that I thought I “should” at those times; but, looking back, I remembered having that feeling I get when I think that way. Do you ever get that stressed or rushed feeling when making a decision? Maybe you think that the decision is out of your control, so you do what you think you “should”?
These are two different ways of relying on “should”; and not thinking consciously and clearly at these times, holds us back from reaching our full potential. In one way, thinking how something or someone else “should be” keeps us from dealing with the reality of the situation. In the other, thinking about what we “should do” usually moves us in a direction away from our full potential. In both ways, we are dealing with thoughts and not actions or actual truth.
Why are we so strongly attracted to what “should have been” or what we “should do”? I look at the second definition of the word in the dictionary: “used to indicate what is probable”. As you assess (consciously or unconsciously) how ideas ‘fit’ into your existing mindset; are you relying on “should” because it “indicates what is probable” and is easier than looking more clearly at what is absolutely true? It may be what is “probable” to be accepted by others as what is right or “probable” to be what will make others happy, even if it doesn’t make you happy. In gambling, business and science; decisions are often based on the probability of an outcome, but in most of these cases all possible probabilities are carefully accessed. When you rely on “should” you usually are looking at the probability of only one possible outcome not all possible outcomes.
In many cases relying on “should” makes things easier in the moment, or easier for others in your life, but not better for you in the long term; so how do you deny “should” in your life?
- Build a practice of thinking more consciously and clearly, so that you can see when you are relying on “should” and how it is impacting your mindset and reaching your full potential. Daily meditation and mindfulness practices will make this your natural response more and more often.
- Learn and observe any “alarm bells”, feelings and language that you use when you are relying on “should”, and re-frame the idea in a more conscious and clear way. Are you:
- feeling rushed or under pressure to make a decision;
- telling yourself that you will do something just this time or differently when you have more time;
- holding back facts from yourself or others you are discussing the situation with, or avoiding discussing with others at all;
- more concerned about how this will “look” to others, than how it will truly impact on you and others;
- thinking more about the impact the decision has on others than on yourself;
- trying to feed another need (to be appreciated/needed/loved/etc.), that is actually unrelated to this situation, or is related to your overall appearance to others;
- using the word “should” when thinking or talking about the matter?
- Take the time to think through all of the actual facts around the decision and what is actually true.
- Like the woman in the documentary, are the “shoulds” of the past holding you back from reaching your full potential? Can you look back more consciously and clearly at the facts?
- Are you overwhelmed by the a number of things you need to do in each day or week? Do you actually have the time to do everything you are committed to do and what other things you really want to do in your life? Do the math, and if the time doesn’t add up, you need to decide what you truly need/want to do and set priorities. Look at each task consciously and clearly. Have you taken on the task because you think you “should” — to make your partner/kids/parents/etc happy; to make your boss/colleagues/etc happy; to make you look good? Which of these tasks truly need to be done by you and cannot be done by another?
When you are thinking consciously and clearly, and rely on what is absolutely true; you have the confidence needed to make decisions that not only move you toward your full potential; but are also right for everyone in your life. They may not think that at the time, and may never agree with your decision; but you will have the mindset to hold onto what is true for you and the confidence to communicate this openly and clearly.