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Talking with a client who was worrying about what might happen in the future, I told her, “Well we don’t know what the future will bring, but we can always know what we bring to it.” It’s true. We can’t ever know exactly what the future holds in store—events out of our control, uplifting surprises, life-changing good luck, tragic misfortune, or natural occurrences that turn our lives upside down. Life is a crapshoot: You roll the dice and live with whatever turns up. But, are we really that powerless in terms of the future?
We can’t predict or control what will happen from this minute on, but we can be confident about what we’re bringing to the metaphorical party of life, and that’s what I mean when I say that “we always can know what we’re bringing to the future.” For example, on a concrete level, when it comes to a potluck, my husband and I don’t necessarily know what food will be available, but we always know there’ll be something we enjoy eating—because we bring it. We don’t focus on what our host or other guests would want (unless, of course, we’re assigned to bring a specific dish). Instead, we decide what we’d like to eat and bring that, so we know we’ll have food we enjoy.
You can count on one thing about the future: it will be unpredictable and difficult to anticipate, no matter how much you try to plan and make it happen to suit you. And, perhaps the only thing, you can be sure of bringing into the future is your best-operating self. If you’re confident that you’re a decent problem-solver and make it your business to be one, if you know you’re level-headed and mostly rational, if you recognize that your best bet is assessing situations objectively and discerning viable long-term options, if you see in yourself someone who can make the best of any situation, then you’re all set.
Too many disregulated eaters want to control the future so they’ll be fine in it rather than bring first-rate life management skills to whatever befalls them. You can only feel secure when you have the will and the skill to handle just about anything in life. If you recognize that you have iffy competencies, of course you’ll want the future to be just so because you understand that if it isn’t, you won’t manage very well. Conversely, when you bring a well-stocked internal resource tool box with you, it won’t matter so much where you’re taking it. You’ll have faith in yourself to identify which tool to use and know that sometimes fixing a situation means fixing yourself to live with it. What life skills do you bring to this party we call life? If you need to grow your competencies, try reading my book Outsmarting Overeating: Boost Your Life Skills, End Your Food Problems. Then you’ll be all set to face whatever the future holds in store.
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