Reservations - why let them control us?

I was in a busy restaurant, our booth full, the booth to our side full, the booth in front of them full too. Yet, the booth in front of us was empty, except for a sign: 'Reserved'. It was empty, waiting - before we arrived and it was empty and still waiting after we left. Why? Because it was reserved.

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How many of us have spent time doing nothing while being 'reserved' for something better? Yet how often does the better actually come? How many of us have lost years of our lives waiting, reserved, for something suggested, even promised, that never comes?

This would maybe be a non-issue if we were immortal on this earth but we are not. Our lives here are very finite. Sometimes suddenly more finite than we expect them to be. Yet still we can be willing to sit on hold, on the promise or expectation of something better. Better what? I will stop taking drugs? I will stop being belittled? I really will leave my spouse, when the time is better? Do we wait because there is evidence of such things or do we wait because we believe such evidence will come, because we want it to be so? Irrelevant? Maybe the only question we should be asking is whether we believe in ourselves and our own self-worth. 

All the time we seek external validation we will be at the mercy of the validator's decision: thumbs up or thumbs down. Yet Caesar is dead. He's dust. His thumb of power is no more. Slave, gladiator or just human, the only person who really needs to believe in you is you.

Co-dependency can be deemed a strong condition and can effectively cripple our independence but our brains are considered grey matter not just because of their colour but because they actually work in levels of grey - nothing black and white. We all probably have some level of co-dependency ingrained into us on some subjects, while for other subjects we feel complete confidence in our capabilities, decisions and worth - even if our judgement regarding this is wrong. For example, driving. 

Most drivers think they are better than average. Technically that's not possible but that doesn't stop the belief and the resulting empowerment to look down on other drivers. We can hear this played out in road rage honking horns for those feeling wronged, even if they were actually the ones in the wrong. In terms of reservations, none are displayed  there. Perhaps there should be, if not some reservations, some questions of self. Some mindfulness. What if we became more mindful of our interactions with others? What if we took an approach of just spreading a smile and happiness rather than impulsive redirection of blame?

Even if it was the other person in the wrong, maybe they're just having a bad day. Even if they really are the four-letter word that sprang to the lips, a parental kind wave might plant a seed of change. Or they might get angry, and annoyed you aren't playing ball because they are focused on wanting to be angry and unhappy - their issue, not yours. By being the better person, the person we choose to be, we will stop being impacted by others and find our days passing more on our terms. And days on our terms brings us full circle back to the question of reservations. What if we think of reservations in terms of us and what we want? 

Given the choice, would a sentient booth like to remain empty and alone or be joined by happy guests, like all the other booths? Likewise, would we like to be forever waiting for the perfect partner, career opportunity, time to start a family or quit an addiction? Perfect partners can still dump us; perfect career opportunities can still collapse; starting a family can take ages and so can quitting addictions. Even if we find what we think is perfection there is nothing guaranteeing it will last - even if we spent 20 years waiting for it. 

What if our approach became more focused on the now? Focused on living each day to the full. No longer simply existing, keeping ourselves and our progress in reserve, but actually living. Actually making the most of the short time we have before time forever returns us to dust. It would mean not 20 years wasted being 'reserved' but 20 years of new experiences, new perspectives and new opportunities where we can experience and enjoy so much more. Even if that booth had just one stray customer, it would have a more full-filling time than just existing, emptily waiting for the promise of something better, that never came.

Give yourself five minutes to just sit back and think about your life. What things are you 'on reserve' for? Do you really need to be? What is the worst thing that could happen if you took down the metaphorical sign and retook ownership of your life? Your life and your choices. No waiting on the whims of others. It doesn't mean becoming selfish, it just means recognising your worth, as a sentient mortal. It is your life, so why not your choices? You will be surprised by the unexpected wonders that can lie out there. Things never expected to be found. Why not become an explorer of your destiny? Choose to own your life, not a reservation label. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK9
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Written by Brad Stone, Integrative Therapist - Dip., MBACP, MNCPS (Acc)
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK9

Brad Stone (MBACP) is a Milton-Keynes-based writer and integrative therapist, in private practice.
www.therapybrad.co.uk

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