Many of us suffer from this and don’t know what to do
How many times have you made the same decision in different circumstances? That’s what I did. No matter what the situation I wound up making the same choice.
Over and over again, I would choose the same partner (but with a different face), the same low paying job, (but at a different location) and the same reason to blame the world for my failure (but with increasing intensity each time).
It took me a long time and lots of misery to understand why I did this. Then an even longer time to realize other people thought the same way I did. Their circumstances and results were different in the details but similar in nature.
Stuck in the past
We all have pasts. Most of the details we don’t remember. What we do remember is the way we lived those days. Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you’re working at a place that has a punch clock that tells you when you’re working and when you’re not. When you were punching out to go to lunch last Thursday, you probably don’t remember the color of the shirt the person standing behind you in line was wearing.
But you probably have a similar thought every time you punch the clock to go to lunch.
It could be something like this. “Oof, only 30 minutes to eat. I hate being rushed.” Or “I need to check my email. I need some privacy.” Or “Why can’t I get a job where I can eat when I’m hungry. They should treat me with some respect.”
Based on my completely subjective thinking about this idea, I bet you have the same thought each time you punch the clock to go to lunch.
Consistent thoughts like this come from consistent training. You have trained yourself to be annoyed and anxious each time you punch out for lunch.
You’ve created a present day experience by acting the way you’ve always acted in the past.
Why did nothing ever change?
I couldn’t figure out why my life always turned out the same until I realized I was the one in charge of keeping it that way.
I got up every morning and boarded my ship of life, ready to set sail. But I never raised the anchor to allow my ship to move. The best I could hope for was to sail around in a circle with my ship firmly anchored in place.
No wonder everything was always the same.
Even when I realized I was keeping myself stuck in the same place, I had to overcome anchor block. That’s a term I made up that means I had a lot of resistance to actually raising the anchor so I could set sail.
I suspect many of us have anchor block. We’ve grown up believing that what we experienced in our past was right for us.
If we grew up believing money was our friend, that’s how we act as adults. If we grew up believing our skin color, height, eye color or mailing address told the world we were less than other people, that’s how we act as adults. If we grew up believing our religion was right and all the others were wrong, that’s how we act as adults.
Those adult actions are the result of us having anchor block. We never raise the anchor and set sail to a different shore because we don’t want to admit the possibility that what we learned as kids was wrong. We just keep on doing the same thing over and over hoping life will turn out different.
It probably won’t.
It only takes four words to change this. Here they are.
Suck it up, buttercup.
Raise your anchor. Let your ship of life sail on.
Here’s the thing.
You don’t need to sail across the entire ocean on your maiden voyage. Take a short trip around the harbor, then drop anchor. You don’t have to change your entire life all at once. Try something small at first that you know you are going to be successful at doing. Then step back and admire your success. For example, tomorrow when you punch out for lunch, deliberately think a better, more enjoyable thought.
The day after tomorrow, raise your anchor and set sail again. Go a bit farther this time before you drop anchor.
When you keep doing this, you will find yourself in uncharted waters before long. That’s when you’ll realize you can drop anchor anywhere you want; because you can also raise that anchor and set sail again anytime you want.
We can beat the scourge of anchor block. All it takes is a bit of rethinking and redoing. Our past does not need to be the model for how we live our present and our future.
Raise your anchor. Sail away. Let your heart be free. You deserve it.