“If Only”, Smells Fishy



If Only mind-habit promises fulfilment but delivers disappointment

“If only” mind-habit, puts a condition on happiness. It wants us to believe that happiness lies in the future, in the next and the next and the next thing – a future that perhaps never arrives.
If only I get accepted to university, I will be happy
If only I graduate, I will be happy
If only I get that job, I will be happy
If only I get that promotion, I will be happy
If only I do my MBA, I will be happy
If only I buy that car, I will be happy
If only I get married, I will be happy
If only I own a house, I will be happy
If only I have kids, I will be happy
If only kids grow up, I will be happy
If only kids didn’t grow up so fast I would be happy
If only, If only, If only …
You get the gist of it
And when we finally achieve or are in the cusp of victory, it turns around and puts a spin on all that accomplished. Somehow suggesting it did not matter or happened too late. Instead of joy and celebration we experience regret.
If only I had got this assignment or promotion 2 years ago, then I would have been really happy
If only I had bought this house earlier, I would have been …
If only I had got married 3 years earlier/later …
If only I had completed my MBA earlier …
If only, if only, if only …
“If only” mind never delivers! But because it doesn’t get noticed, we can’t put it on notice.
Rooted in lack thinking, it assumes by having this and that it will become complete. Even if outwardly it is surrounded with riches and abundance. It is always looking for the next thing.
There is no winning over “if only” mind-habit. Each time we satisfy it, it only gets reaffirmed and sprouts out again. Because it is anchored in a lack mind set, each attempt in fulfilling it simultaneously strengthens the belief in lack – contradictory but true. But we don’t see this contradiction. “If only” habit promises fulfillment, but actually prevents fulfillment and stirs emotions. There is something fishy about this. But we don’t smell it. Like a masterful trickster that magically manipulates and shapes perception, “if only” mind operates unseen, under the radar. And because it does not get noticed – we can’t put it on notice.
This does not mean we can’t pursue or accomplish goals, rather it asks us to be aware of our intentions and motives. To step out of default mode and conscioulsy ask: What is the motive behind this act? What is motivating this desire? What is really motivating this hiring/firing? What is really behind this new initiative?
When expressed intentionally, “If only” mind may point to a legitimate need (for example, If only we could work more collaboratively as a team. If only there was less conflict amongst us, …). Our work is to translate, transfer and transmute this habitual energy to an intentional conscious energy. It is this intentionality that we need to practice and develop more. That is where practicing self-reflection, mindfulness and contemplative exercises help.
Attending to our emotional field can help with noticing this mind-habit
1. What do I need to begin to notice this mind-habit more often?
2. What thoughts, needs, motives and emotions immediately precede “If only” thoughts?