I love that line from the movie Thelma and Louise, where Louise, a pragmatic kind of woman, utters her philosophy of life in one phrase: “You get what you settle for.” Back in the 1990s when I saw the film, I felt adventurous. New worlds were opening up for me both literally and metaphorically. I ventured into explorations of the mind as well as travelling around the world looking into the buildings and traditions of ancient civilizations, the Maya, the Inca, the Aborigine, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Arabs and the Indian peoples. I was fascinated by just what it was that made us, well me mostly, live the way we do and believe what we do. When people bemoaned their situation I would quote Louise in my best American accent, which really wasn’t very good! I believed in free will and the power of personal agency. You have the power to choose anything you want.
Of course, studying civilizations past and present might lead to you think that’s only partly true. We are the product of our society after all. The only reason I believe that you are free to choose what you “settle for”, is because I live in England in the twenty-first century. If I lived in sixteenth century Central America with the Mayans, would I have believed the same? Five thousand years ago in ancient Egypt, would I have had the mind to, or indeed the opportunity to choose what I want? Even a hundred years ago in the UK, as a woman I would have had difficulty in doing what I pleased.
What does it mean anyway – settle for? It’s a weird phrase when you think about it. Settle is defined as to discontinue moving and stay in one place, and to put in order, arrange or fix as desired. To me, the phrase means that you no longer choose to experience new things, you stay in the same place, maybe with the same person or people, and you refrain from learning anything new or trying out different things. Sameness. Lack of variety. Death of adventure! Decline into pessimism and …do you see where this train of thought is heading here?
It’s like loving pizza, which I do, and having it for dinner. Yum. Then, have it again the next day, and the next day, in fact all week, all month, on and on forever – you’d be pretty sick of it after a while. You need a little variety in your diet to sustain a healthy body, just as you need a little variety in your day, week, month and year, to sustain a healthy mind.
Your mind is an amazing thing, built for learning and experiencing. You have what is called neuroplasticity – the ability for your brain to change and adapt according to its environment and genes. Your brain can create new neural connections according to your experiences, and it can be rather rapid. That’s how phobias occur – a bad experience with a spider gets mapped into the cerebral cortex. Then the brain recalls in an instant the connection between spiders and fear next time around. According to some, a person takes about twenty-one days to break or form a new habit, in effect, that you will only feel comfortable doing something different after a certain time period. I disagree, some things, in my experience, can be pretty darn quick to change, others take slightly more repetitions. If you can make a phobia from just one bad experience, you know just how plastic your brain can be. It might take three weeks to degrade a strong neural bundle in the brain and replace it with the kind of habit you really want, but change can be instantaneous with the right prompting.
I love having ‘settled for’ my husband. He’s a great choice and I’m finding out more about him every day. However, I do retain a penchant for adventure in other areas of my life. I’m still finding out just how powerful a human mind is and how many opportunities and choices we can make every day. Who’d have thought I’d be writing a book now? And I never imagined people could overcome fears, phobias or traumas in just a matter of minutes by tapping on acupressure points or stroking their arms, but you can! What else is possible? Guess I’ll settle for a curious mind. Don’t mind if I do!
Do you want to settle for a mediocre life? What choices do you want to make? Come see me to overcome a barrier or block and achieve more of your potential. You can also release a fear, phobia or traumatic incident. Email now to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07989 404112.