In The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz number 102, I offer a unique answer to a common question: “What if I could live my life over again?”
This existential quandary is really asking if you should change the life you’re living, or continue following the script?
Listen to discover what keeps us stuck on the treadmill of life, and find out how to make changes and revisions that reflect the experiences and insights we’ve gained so far.
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Transcript of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz #101
Hello everybody and welcome to the Possibility Podcast. I’m your host, Mel Schwartz. I practice psychotherapy, marriage counseling, and I am the author of the book, The Possibility Principle, the companion to this podcast. I hope to be your thought provocateur and I’ll be introducing you to new ways of thinking and a new game plan for life.
Hi everyone and welcome to today’s Possibility Podcast. In this episode, I’m going to touch upon a familiar expression or a thought. If I could only live my life over. If you had those thoughts, depends upon what age you are of course, but this thought, if I had another life to live, if I could redo this life, how would I do it differently? A common question.
Now of course, unless you’re in the last moments of your life, we don’t have to talk about living your life over. We can talk about living the rest of your life differently, not over. You may not get a redo.
The question is, should you continue to live your life the same as you always have? Or should we make changes, revisions as we grow in life and have different experiences, new expectations, perhaps we gain some wisdom. Shouldn’t we make some changes? If you’re 30 years old, you’ve lived 262,000 hours, a lot of hours, but you’ve got a lot more to go hopefully. If you’re 50, you’ve lived 438,000 hours, but you know what? According to life expectation charts, actuarial charts, you still at the age of 50 probably have 250,000 more hours to live.
So how would you choose to live your life differently? Why don’t we make these changes? Do we have free will? Both theoretically and philosophically we do, but on a practical level, it doesn’t seem like we do. What gets in the way of that free will of making these changes? I think it’s a number of things, but to begin with, it’s the conditioning of our beliefs and our thoughts.
You see, if we keep having the same beliefs and the same thoughts, is that actually free will or does that blunt free will? We keep holding on to the same beliefs and thoughts, which trick us in that they’re telling us the truth.
And so we surrender to those beliefs and thoughts. And so we tend to live out our lives pretty much the same as we always have. Isn’t that a shame? What a regret.
Shouldn’t we benefit from the new experiences and insights that we’ve gained over decades of life? Shouldn’t we make changes? But we can’t. If we surrender, if we succumb to this automatic reflex, it’s kind of like determinism. Our thoughts and feelings, perceptions and beliefs determine how we live our lives. Well, theoretically, you might say, I want to make changes.
I want to live the rest of my life, perhaps in some ways differently. So how can we break free from this habitual conditioning? Our ideas and our experiences have become predictable. Well, are you looking at your thoughts?
Stop. Look at the thoughts you have. They are writing the script of your life.
As you’ve heard me say before, thoughts are literal. Literal in that they trick us that they’re reporting in on the truth. I can’t, I won’t, they never will, it won’t work. Those literal thoughts make you the indentured servant of those thoughts. New thinking. This is a key, the difference between old thought and new thinking. New thinking, I can. How can I make these changes? Well, to break out of our addiction to the familiar, we need to once again embrace uncertainty. We need to embrace and welcome change, not fear it.
We may be seeking change in work, relationships, relationships with others, or relationship with our own self. A lot of changes you may want to make in your life. To get unstuck, re-envision yourself.
I’d love to show you my appreciation for your subscribing to and rating this podcast by offering you a gift to one of the following, The Power of Mind, a live talk that I gave, or one of my digital eBooks, Creating Authentic Self-Esteem, Overcoming Anxiety, or Raising Resilient Children, and lastly, Cultivating Resilient Relationships. Once you have subscribed, please send an email to mel at melschwartz.com and just let me know which gift you’d prefer. Thanks.
Rather than being stuck and constrained and in a straight jacket of old thoughts and old beliefs, picture life as a flowing stream and you want to get into that stream, into the flow and into the current. Now, besides the conditioning of our past, there are other things that get in the way of our making change. There is a cultural conformity.
What do I mean by that? There’s a meme, a cultural messaging we get of be careful, be cautious, be fearful of change. I don’t know where that meme came from, where that belief came from, how it originated, but it’s a negative and self-fulfilling prophecy. If you want to make significant changes, you may have a fear around what will people think? Will they think I’m going through a midlife crisis?
Well, it doesn’t matter what they think and who are they? The key here is any change you want to make, you might think of as your midlife or late life or early life, not crisis, but opportunity. It’s your opportunity, not your crisis. Just calling it a crisis speaks to the cultural belief that you shouldn’t change. So you need to decide who is the author of your life? Well, in large part, your beliefs and thoughts, your experiences, your childhood messages from your parents, these are all the authors of your script. You become a character in that script, the plot already written. You make a few decisions, job wise, relationship wise, marriage wise, and you feel like the
script is written.
You then fall into inertia and that is due to fear, again, old thoughts, old beliefs, and the cultural messages of don’t make changes. Well, I love metaphors and I think you can think of this in terms of putting the pen in your hand, the pen that writes the script of your life. Only these days, think of it as the fingers on the keyboard because we don’t write much with pens any longer. You want to break free from the constraints, from the script that you’ve been living by. You know, when you look at your thoughts as you consider change or significant change, look at where your thought takes you. It either takes you toward why I can’t and the narrative and the story you’re telling yourself about why you can’t make change, that’s literal thought trapping you. Fix that with new thinking, why can’t I, instead of why I can’t. Why can’t I do this? This is my life. I have to let go of fear. I have to let go of what I think other people will think. Break free from old literal thought. That is the straitjacket that is limiting you.
So when you think about how would I live my life over differently if I had the chance, you do have the chance. Right now, you have to become present right now and choose to live differently in this moment because tomorrow never comes. All you have is now. So right now, think about what aspect of your life you want to change, commit to it, write it down, no stories, no exceptions, no excuses. Go ahead and make that change in your life right now. And by the way, it’s healthy to be revisiting our need for change and modification, entering into new terrain, having new experiences, bring a vibrancy into your life. Just don’t live it out day in, day out by the same routine. It dulls life, it puts you to sleep, it’s depressing, you deserve better.
Closing thought, why I can’t or why can’t I?
Well, thanks for listening to today’s episode. Until next time, be well, be safe, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon. Bye for now.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Possibility Podcast. I welcome your feedback on this and any episode. Please send me an email at email@example.com or leave a comment in the show notes for this episode at melschwartz.com. If you like what you’re hearing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Your reviews really help boost the visibility for the show, and it’s a great way for you to show your support. Finally, please make sure to subscribe to the Possibility Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, and that way you’ll never miss an episode. Thanks again, and please remember to always welcome uncertainty into your life and embrace new possibilities.