Last week at work my shift colleagues and I were considering what the day may bring, when one of my colleagues spoke out in unusual confidence, stating that we were going to have a good day. I couldn't help but warn him, "Don't say that," but an odd thing happened, the day did actually go pretty well. The weird thing about this? It showed that ultimately what we say doesn't really have any power over anything.
Why is this a big deal to me? Ever since I was young I learned not to boast about what I might or might not do, for fear of the worst happening. In recent years that has only increased, to the point where I wonder why my colleagues ask what I have planned for my days off. Nothing is set in stone any more, I'm always gearing for the worst, or at least attempting to. Sometimes even your worst projections don't cover all eventualities, or worse still, you're completely blindsided by what has taken place.
What is the worst case scenario that people talk about? How about the numerous people, who have recounted to us for years about how they didn't receive support while their children grew up, lost a home, encountered health problems due to overworking to meet commitments, etc. Are they wishing this on us? Of course not, but as soon as someone mentions it I end up thinking, "Well, that's obviously going to happen to us." Does it have to be this way? Certainly not. To I expect all the worst case scenarios to become reality? Yes. Does that make sense? No.
Although I don't think it is really talked about, you reach points in your life where you realise that you still have a lot to learn. Part of me thinks, "I'm 38, I should have everything figured out by now," although I clearly don't. I'm really just coming to realise that at the moment I'm a strange blend of pessimist and fatalist, where I expect things to go wrong and just accept that I can't change them. When it comes to other people, I can't change them, but when it comes to myself, my family, and things which I may not be able to altogether control but may have an opportunity to influence, then I owe it to myself to do everything I can to seek the best for my family.
Some of the issues that I see at work on a daily basis are brought about by expectancies. These come in all manner of forms, the expectancy that a service will break, that a team member may call up and ask for a holiday, or even the self-expectancy that I expect better performance from myself. What is the expectancy I have from life? That things are bad, that they will continue to be bad and that they won't get better. And so I come back to the lifelong battle I've had with my parents, where they exhort me to "think positive" and I wonder what the justification is for seeing anything positive on the horizon. Even then, every once in a while something positive does come along, even a pessimist like me sees that. The difficulty is in making changes to make positive events more frequent.
One of the changes I am going to need to make is to pay less attention to others. When I think about career options I consider what my in-laws will think. When my kids aren't happy I consider what other parents might think. When thinking about what I'm doing with my days off I think about what my colleagues will think about what I'm doing, and whether or not they think my life is boring/miserable/dull? I need to be less considerate of a lot of people, and actually put myself and my family first more often. Will everyone like it? I suspect not. Does it hopefully mean a better future for myself and my family? I hope so. Will all be plain sailing? Almost certainly not, but eventually we'll get there, in one form or another.