Why is it we often make the same mistake over and over, each time vowing to ourselves that it won’t happen again? Isn’t it because it’s actually easier for us to follow this same familiar path (however unproductive or destructive it may be) than to put in the effort to break those habits and change?

Though we may hate to admit it, it is usually simply a matter of our own laziness and lack of determination that sees us running in circles for most of our lives. When we live like this, I’ve always felt our lives become so small, so closed off from anything new, anything… better. We become a smaller version of ourselves, we lose our potential… possibilities narrowed because we do not make the effort to break free from these habits, to learn from these mistakes and grow and make our worlds a little bigger each time we do so. Instead we choose to live in a fishbowl, trapped inside the comfortable routines we’ve made for ourselves, looking through the glass at the wider world, seeing everything we could be and yet resigning ourselves to our current lot.

It’s not always easy – sometimes I’m tired, I’m depressed, I can’t see where my life is going… but often as not, these are just excuses I make to myself when I’m feeling too lazy, when I simply can’t be bothered to do what I should be doing. We are all, each and every one of us, making excuses to ourselves such as these… justifying our lives spent in the fishbowl.

But because I want more than that, I deserve more than that, am capable of more than that (and aren’t we all?), I will strive to break free from these habits. If I make a mistake, I will learn from it and move on – I won’t continue making the same mistake one hundred times over, banging my head against a brick wall. If I can see that a habit, or some other aspect of my life, needs to change – I will change it.

No excuses. Even if it involves forcing myself in the beginning (and it usually does), I will soldier on, knowing that in time things will get easier. An old habit will be replaced by a new one, one that I will consciously choose and control rather than allowing my habits to control me. It may be a two-step-forward, one-step-back process – I’m not saying I’ll get it right straight off the bat and I’m not saying I will punish myself, beat myself up over it if I don’t. I know I’ll slip up. I’ll struggle. I’ll falter. That’s an inevitable part of being human. When that happens, I’ll have enough self-love and self-discipline to get back up and carry on… for though I am human, I am not “only”. I hate when people give the excuse – “I’m only human.”

Another justification for their life in the fishbowl, for the choices they make but are too ashamed to admit responsibility for. Yes, you are human, but “only”? Why not be a magnificent, beautiful, exceptional example of humanity?

It’ll be a learning curve, and each step of the way there will be new mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. Envisage it like this: the fishbowl is the centre of a spiral. Whenever I break my bad habits, learn from my mistakes and strive to do my best… I start to spiral outwards, my world getting bigger and bigger. In each layer of the spiral, new mistakes will be made and as I learn from each one, I continue spiralling outwards, expanding my life. This is a never-ending process – if anything, the bigger the spiral, the more mistakes I’ll make, the more I’ll learn…

“Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster”
Weston H. Agor 

“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything”
William Connor Magee 

I will look within (and above) to find the courage, determination and will-power I need…

I’m not saying this is the right way to live for everyone. I can only speak for myself. But this is my philosophy, how I choose to view and live my life, what I believe is best for me.   Besides, whoever heard of a Cat living in a fishbowl anyway?

Cat Whitehouse

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