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Monday, September 24, 2012

Living in the State of "If Only"

The state of "if only" is not a place you'll find on a map.  You can't set your GPS to get you there.  But you can live your entire life in the state of "if only" and not even realize it.  

Living in the State of "If Only"

Do any of these statements sound familiar?
"If only I had a boyfriend, I would be content."
"If only I won the lottery, I would be happy."
"If only I had a sports car, women would like me."
"If only I was prettier, men would notice me."
"If only I was thinner, I would feel good about myself."
"If only my ex would speak to me, I could go on with my life."
"If only I had a girlfriend, I would stop drinking."
"If only my wife understood me, I would stop cheating on her."

Getting Stuck: Living in the State of "If Only"

Living in the State of "if only" is a State of Mind
I could probably come up with at least a hundred more of these statements and so can you, but I think you get the idea that living in the state of "if only" is a state of mind.

Usually, it's a self imposed state where we tell ourselves that if we had ___________ (fill in the blank), then life would be worthwhile.  Often, this is something we tell ourselves over and over again as we wait, wish, and hope for whatever it is that completes our particular "if only" statement.

Living in the State of "if only" is Like Living in Limbo
Living in the state of "if only" is like living in limbo and wondering when you'll get out.  When we're in denial about this limbo state, we can blame everyone, anyone or anything else and not take any personal responsibility for what is usually a self imposed state.  We might experience it as if someone or something is doing this to us.  But most of the time, we're in denial that we're doing it to ourselves.

Acknowledging that You're in the State of "if only"
In order to get out of this state of mind, you must first realize that this is where you are.  Acknowledging this, even to yourself, let alone to anyone else, can be very difficult.  It can make you feel uncomfortable because if this is, in reality, a self imposed state, that implies that you're doing this to yourself and you need to stop.

Ingrained habits can be hard to break, and habitually making your happiness completely dependent upon someone or something outside yourself is often a habitual way of thinking.  Whether it's something you learned when you were growing up or you developed it later in life, it involves a certain amount of denial about what you can do to be happy as opposed to waiting for someone or something outside yourself.

Living in the State of "if only" Can be Like Living with the "Devil" You Know
Once you've acknowledged that you're caught in a self imposed state of mind and you've developed an awareness about it, you need to take action to change it.  This often takes a lot of internal motivation.  And here's where many people get stuck.  They might not be happy with their state of mind, but change can be scary.

There's an old saying that goes something like:  "It's better to live with the devil you know than the devil you don't know."  In some ways, even though you might be unhappy, you know and you've become comfortable with your personal "devil," even though he might be torturing you.

Getting Out of the State of "if only:" Taking the First Step
There often comes a time when living in this state of mind becomes more uncomfortable than the fear you experience when you think about changing.  At that point, you have to admit to yourself that, even though it might be very hard to change and let go, it's better than being miserable for the rest of your life.   At that point, in effect, you're at a crossroad and you know you can't go back.  You know you can't keep doing what you've been doing.  Making that decision is taking the first step to making a change in your life.

Getting Help:
If you've made the decision to change, but you're finding it difficult to change on your own, you could benefit from seeking professional help from a licensed psychotherapist.  A psychotherapist won't tell you what to do.

No one can tell you what's right for you.  But a therapist can help you to work through the issues that are keeping you stuck.  Rather than live your entire life stuck in a self imposed negative state of mind, you owe it to yourself to get help so you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me:
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individual adults and couples.

To  find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

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