“I can’t wait to get back to normal”
I hear this all the time.
People want to get back to the way something was in the past.
It might be when their body was a certain size, or when they lived in a certain place.
The other common theme is before- before this happened, before I was hurt, before I made this decision...and of course before the pandemic.
I'm sorry to inform you that we can't go back.
And the truth is, you probably don't want to.
Here's the thing- you are looking at the past with the insight and perspective you have now.
That insight and perspective came from living through the events of the past.
It's the classic hindsight is 20/20.
Sometimes in life, we learn things too late to help our past selves. That's just how it is.
There have been times in my life when I positively ached with the regret of wishing I had made a different decision, and have spent weeks of time imagining what my life would have been like if only I had made a different choice.
Part of this yearning is because we had good experiences when our body was different and we were in a different place or time but part of this is fantasy- idealizing the past and using wanting something different as a way to escape our feelings of discomfort that we’re having now.
So let's really look at it.
Taking the idealization of the past first:
Was it really that great? Were there any negative things happening in your life at that time? Was it really all sunshine and rainbows? What challenges and support did you have at that time? How were your relationships, work, home, and energy?
Often we focus on the best part of the past when we were wishing it back.
From the opposite direction:
What has the Never The Same again event taught or gifted you?
Did you learn patience, compassion, or gain insight from going through a difficult situation?
And to tie it all together, you probably don't want to go back to exactly how it was before. What you want is to feel how you felt then.
Why not set a feeling goal?
There are lots of ways to feel better.
Check-in with your basic self-care: sleep, movement, water.
Cultivate connections: reach out to a friend for a chat or ask someone you know loves you for a hug.
Do something you enjoy: a creative project or a feel-good book, podcast, or movie.
Play your favorite happy song and sing along.
Check-in with your advanced self-care: supplements, mindfulness practices, where you focus.
All of these things will help you feel better. And I suspect that's what you really want.