Figuring out how to deal with your life now versus how it should be can be hard. Frustrating. Sad. Something has happened to you and your life that wasn’t in the plan. And it means that the life you had planned for yourself – your life how it should be – may no longer be possible.

Maybe what has happened was a challenging health issue has come into your or a loved one’s life. Your life or theirs may be changed forever as a result. Or maybe it’s a relationship betrayal or breakdown, redundancy, bankruptcy, move to a new home/city/country, or even the death of someone close to you. Or your life just hasn’t panned out in the way you had hoped for any number of reasons.

So how do you deal with your life now versus how it should be?

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The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that title

Look at the words

‘your life now versus how it should be’

There are two things happening in those words. I’m going to outline what they are and what you can do to reconcile the differences to help you deal with your life now versus how it should be.

The picture shows a woman trying to figure out how to deal with her life now versus how she thinks it should be. She is saying, 'I want to find the clues.' The caption reads: The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that sentence. Written in one box is 'my life now'. In another box, is written 'how it should be'. Should is underlined. Between the two boxes 'versus' is written. This is underlined too. Can you figure out the clues?

First, what is the ‘versus’ like for you?

When at a sporting event or playing a game, we use the word ‘versus’ to indicate two teams playing ‘against’ each other. The versus has connotations of winning and losing. One team will win the other will lose.

We then take that versus and use it on other areas of our lives. A union versus the government. You versus your boss. Boys versus girls.

In relation to how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what is the energy in the versus for you?

Does the ‘versus’ feel like a fight? One that you aren’t winning? Are you in this perpetual state of losing? Or something else?

Second, notice the use of ‘should’

The use of the word ‘should’ is ‘used to show what is right, appropriate, etc.’. And it can be ‘used to say that something that was expected has not happened’.

Sometimes, the use of the word ‘should’ can fuse these two – what was expected to happen was the right thing to happen.

But there can be difficulty when the ‘should’ becomes a rule

When a person holds on tightly to what they consider the right and appropriate thing to do or be, that is when ‘should’ becomes more like a rule. The harder the person holds on to that ‘should’, the more fixed it becomes as a rule.

We often inherent such rules from the primary caregivers in our families of origin. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even teachers and friends’ parents. When we inherited them, they were useful at that time.

So how do you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it should be?

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Check if your ‘shoulds’ are outdated strategies

Because sometimes the should you learned in childhood was appropriate for that stage of your life but isn’t now. But you may learned the should more recently from people around you or even social media. Do this by asking yourself:

  • If someone from my past would have said this, who would that be?
  • If I learned this should more recently, from who or where did I learn it?
  • Is it helpful for me and my life to continue operating to this should?

If you’ve identified someone and you’ve realised it’s no longer helpful to carry around this should, then you can give that should back to them (on an energetic level).

Also, whenever you notice yourself using the word ‘should’ to show what is right, appropriate and correct, replace it with the word ‘could’. Notice what that is like for you.

The woman is looking at two boxes one which has 'my life now' written in it and the other 'how it could be'. The word could is underlined. Between them is written the word and and it is underlined. The caption reads: Notice how the use of 'could' rather than 'should' creates possibility and the potential for movement. The woman is saying, 'That feels so much better!'

Check the kind of energy you are putting into the ‘versus’

Is it the kind of energy where you feel like you are fighting to get to your life as it ‘should’ be but you’re not getting anywhere?

What if you were to let go of that fight and just be with how your life is now?

I appreciate that this can be a big ask because some situations are very tough to be in. As a start, just put the fight to one side for a bit and notice what that is like for you. You can return to it if you choose to.

So why did I suggest putting the fight to one side?

Check if you’re in the grip of ‘comparsion-itis’

Comparison is a common strategy people use to deal with their life now versus how it should be.

If you are constantly comparing your life as it is now versus how it should be, you are not happy with your life now and you are happy with the vision and hopes of how your life should be, yeah, that is gonna be hard. It can feel very negative.

Sometimes your life how it should be is your pre-illness/injury life and you are striving to get back to that. Reading this blog will also help.

That kind of constant comparison is energy draining. Your life now will never be good enough. And do you want to live your life like that?

I reckon you are probably shaking your head no.

So change the nature of the comparison you’re making as you deal with your life now versus how it should be

‘Should’ can be used to refer to a possible event or situation, so something in the future.

Your life ‘as it should be’ could be something in the future. It may be possible to achieve, it may not. Or maybe something in the middle of those two is achievable.

If the life you have dreamt for yourself is truly not possible, then mourn that loss

It’s a very real loss. Although our western society doesn’t always embrace or even allow mourning, it is a legitimate and healthy thing to do. And you can mourn without unpacking and living in it forever and ever. When you mourn you are honouring someone or something you valued. That is ok to do. It also helps to put an end to unhealthy comparison.

Reflect on the possibility of creating a life that is somewhere between, even beyond, the life you have now and the life you had hoped for

Depending on what you had hoped for in your life, how can you create it or aspects of it now in the life you do have? It may take a different form. It may take more effort on your part to make happen. It may take a while to make happen. But what are the possibilities? And what actions can you start taking to make them happen? However small those actions may be.

This is about purposefully creating the life you want given everything that you have dealt with and may have to deal with.

These possibilities can be flexible and adaptable goals. I use the words flexible and adaptable to highlight that you may need to be open to changing how you reach the goal, aspects of the goal or even the goal itself. This can help lessen a ‘rule fixed should’ taking hold.

Reading this related blog on finding the new you after a difficult experience like the onset of a challenging health issue or something else, will also help.

If it’s not yet possible to create the life you want, then notice the good in your life now and what makes you smile

A woman is sitting down looking at a continuum above her and smiling. She's in a good place. At one end of the continuum is 'your life now'. Above it reads 'notice the good here'. At the other end of the continuum is 'how your life should be' and the word should is in quotes. Above it is written, mourn what you've lost and valued. Between those two points of the continuum is highlighted the middle and there's the questions: What are the possibilities here? How could you life be? Below near the woman who is sitting down, there's a rubbish bin and in it is 'comparison-itis'. The emphasis here is how you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it 'should' be by looking at all the possibilities between the two.

That may sound really cliched, but it has value because it’s true.

Maybe you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty so until some of that lessens you can’t say what you want your life to be like or you know but don’t have the energy to create it just yet. For example, when you’re in the acute phase of a challenging health issue and having treatment, or in a flare, or even for situations such as divorce, bankruptcy, redundancy, something else.

So take a deep breath.

Let go of the struggle.

Notice the small, even tiny things that make you smile and remind you of the good in the world.

Someone who smiles at you on the street. A funny meme on social media. The bird outside your house. The sun shining. A hug a loved one gives you. A cup of tea someone makes for you or you make for them. A news story about something someone did that was kind.

Just keep noticing those small things day-in and day-out, day after day. That helps you to keep some good in your life which helps to keep a sense of balance. It also makes sure you don’t forget how to notice the good things, which is so important.

Finally, if comparison-it is ever starts to take hold…

Remind yourself that you only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday.

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness reads: You only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday."

What’s it like for you?

What resonated with you in this blog? In learning how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what would help you? Or has helped? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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