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August 25, 2014

The Danger of “If Only” Thinking

Image: Flickr/Jana Vitoušková

Image: Flickr/Jana Vitoušková

“The first half of our life is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.” (Clarence Darrow)

Most of us spend most of our lives in one of these situations: either as a child or as a parent. And, if you choose Mr. Darrow’s view, you might be in for one long, hopeless life. That path leads to a defensive, victim mentality which can cause a person to feel helpless, even lost at times. You could think of it as “if only” thinking.

“If only my parents had taught me more.” “If only I had a better childhood.” “If only my kids would do what I ask them.” “If only my spouse would appreciate me more.” The list could go on and on.

If you wait for all of those things to materialize before you feel like you can really be happy, you’ll likely find your life ruined by others — just as Darrow predicted. So, what’s the alternative?

Since you’re in these relationships anyway, make the best of them and focus on the one common denominator in all of them: you. Make yourself the best son or daughter, father or mother, husband or wife possible. In doing so, you may get to live both halves of your life in pretty good shape.

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