By Lynn Seiser
Relating to the Future By Choices Made Today
Since there is no menís issue of Awareness Magazine, I tend to want to make the article for the womenís issue of equal benefit for all of us. That is a central theme with all I write, that what is in oneís best interest needs to be in line with what is in the best interest of others. As couples, you both win or you both lose. As a family, the same. As a community, ditto. As a nation and a world, well that should be obvious.
What we think may be in the best interest of ourselves and others in the moment, may not be of everyoneís best interest in the future. What do we look for in each other? Not the politically-correct answer that we find in our heads, but the truth we find in our choices. When you look at the small adrenaline rush now, you may make one choice. It always will seem like a good idea at the time.
Now, when you look at the big picture, the long term, what you choose in the moment may really be what you want. I hear this all the time in counseling. It is the basis of a lot of heartbreak, heartache, and general pain in our lives, and the lives of everyone around us. What we choose in the short run is not necessarily what we want in the long run. This is a very important distinction. I often find the biggest problem in relationships is selection error.
As women, what do you look for in a man? Ask yourself this question. Write down what you want in a man. Now look at your list. Is it long-term or short-term? Does what you think you want match the choices you are making?
As men, what do you look for in a woman? Ask yourself this question. Write down what you think you really want in a woman. Look at your list. Does it contain short-term or long-term characteristics? Do you choose what you really want for the long-term or just for the short-term?
This idea works for same-sex relationships too. They even work for friendships and work relationships. Looking at the long-term goal and benefits helps make better choices now.
Before you can get what you really want in the long run, you have to know what it is you specifically want. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, so letís take a trip into the future. Letís pretend you do an age progression and you are old and very happy. Look around you. What do you want to see? Whatís really important at this point? As you look towards the present, what do you want to have accomplished? Ask your older self just how you got to where you are going to be. Heed your own advice.
The very provocative lady and the adrenaline-provoking bad-boy may not be the best long-term choice for a mate or a co-parent. Our choices get reflected in the larger community. We are probably more alike than different from what our society teaches us to be attracted to. Without knowing it, our society often supports and encourages bad choices that we know are not healthy for us for us, either in the long-term or the short-term. Worse yet, our choices teach our children what to choose when they become of age. Our children imitate and identify with us, and learn from our modeling. If your children and grandchildren were in a relationship like you have now, would they be happy and would you be happy for them?
In many ways we already know what it is we really want and exactly what we have to do to get it. Thatís the great thing about inner wisdom. As I sit with individuals and couples in counseling, they usually know the truth. Many people know their choice in the present is not going to get them what they really want in the future. These people live with the hope that some day, by some miracle, their lives and those around them will dramatically change all by themselves, even when they know that is just not going to happen.
Many people go through a period of existential emptiness and hopelessness before they accept the responsibility and accountability for choices they have made. I am not saying that miracles donít happen, Iím saying that you have a better chance at a miracle if you make better choices everyday.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.
Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally respected psychotherapist and author with offices in Long Beach and Tustin.
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