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“Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels.”

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Natalie Standiford

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I admit. One of the things that consistently surprises me about Life is no matter how well, and how often, we prepare ourselves, we are never prepared for how we feel when “it” happens.

It’s one of the unfortunate surprises in Life.

You can prepare.

And practice.

And prepare more.

And dot your “I’s’ and cross your “t’s.”

And you can even mentally prepare yourself.

And, well, unfortunately … you are never prepared for how it feels.

I tend to believe one of the unteachable things in Life is how to get thru that feeling. But … whew … we surely do try as hard as we can. We warn. We describe. We us examples and even metaphors. And, yet, we are never really prepared for how it feels.

The issue? You can warn people and you can describe it to people … but … how do you explain feelings?

reality problem

<note: you really cannot>

We try really hard to teach this and yet, in fact, we actually seem to be doing just the opposite … doing our best to NOT prepare people for this.

How do we do that?

We suggest all the preparation will make you the best you can be.

We suggest that investing in gobs of preparation will make you successful.

We suggest (as statements of truth) over and over and … well … over. We set expectations for not feeling that feeling <or feeling nothing that could impact expectations> because you are prepared.

Now. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t actually DO the preparation … I am simply stating that all the great preparation goes out the window for however long the feeling crashes through all the preparation and hits you.

I believe we make this worse with all our ‘preparation is the secret to success’ because I think then the feeling surprises even more because you’ve been convinced, in some form or fashion, all your preparation would be ‘enough.’

Oh. As I wrote this I hesitated to use the word ‘surprise’ and went to see if there was a better word.

If you go to a thesaurus these are some of the words you get:

surprise monkey——

surprised:

having the feeling that you get when something unexpected happens

shocked:

very offended or embarrassed by something that you consider immoral

amazed:

very surprised

speechless:

so surprised, upset, or angry that you cannot think of anything to say

astonished:

very surprised about something that you did not expect

astounded:

extremely surprised or shocked

thunderstruck:

very surprised or shocked

staggered:

very surprised and shocked


at a loss for words:

not knowing what to say, especially because you are very surprised or shocked

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Whew. Think about those words and being prepared.

How could anyone ever be ‘staggered’ or “shocked” or ‘astonished’ or even ‘thunderstruck’ if you were prepared?

How could you be at a loss for words if you were prepared?

Well. Take a moment. Be honest.

How often have you been staggered by a feeling even though you had ‘mentally prepared’? <you would be lying if you said never or even ‘rarely’>

There is a quote that says that the past has a perfection that the future could never hold.

reality problemReality is quite similar.

When you prepare yourself mentally you create some perfection even among the possibilities or ‘inevitability’ of things that will be … but in the moment … in that moment … you cannot have envisioned that actual feeling. Reality just … well … feels different.

You can prepare as perfectly as possible, mentally and physically, and you feel good because preparation has a perfection that reality can never hold. Perfection holds as you do the best you can, but everything changes the moment you ‘feel’ reality.

The other thing about preparing is … well … it envisions a stagnant moment (and Life doesn’t stop for anybody).

Sometimes a split second can unravel all that well intended preparing.

Yup. One seemingly innocuous moment can shake the foundation of your whole ‘well prepared’ world. Your entire life can be flipped upside down on the strength of what you had clearly envisioned as a predictable event.

Shit.

You had even predicted the feeling.

And prepared for it.

Oops.

You can’t prepare for the feeling.

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“Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move towards the unknown – even when we don’t want to and we think we don’t need to.”

Paulo Coelho

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Look. Preparing is part of being good. In Life and in general.

And I am certainly not suggesting anyone and everyone shouldn’t prepare for shit as best they can. All I am suggesting is that success is often defined not by the preparation but rather what happens when the predictable event creates the unpredictable feeling.

Even if you know what is coming you are never prepared for the feeling. Being prepared can help, but don’t fool yourself into believing you are actually prepared for what you will feel.

Life will stagger, astound, amaze, surprise you … no matter how well prepared you are.

That is what Life does. That’s reality.

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Written by Bruce