What will be, will be - unless you change something
I was recently asked if any timeless wisdom had been handed down the generations of my family to me. This got me thinking, and I actually realised a lot of the sayings I had heard growing up, from different family members, didn’t sit very well with me.
I have a particular discomfort around the phrase “What will be, will be”. I’ve always felt that is was a rather disempowering statement. What do you think?
Although it will no doubt mean different things to different people; personally I feel the urge to tack something motivational onto the end of it, such as: “…unless you change something!”
I suppose, to some people, this phrase could signify letting go of the need to control those things that we can’t change, which is a very healthy attitude indeed. This saying is also generations old, and has been around during times of war, when indeed there was much taken out of our hands and decided for us.
Today, still, there is plenty out there in the world that we can’t change; from illnesses to big changes of circumstance. Much of life is about working with things, or around them.
However, even with all that said, there is a big step missing here. In between what we can control and what we cannot, there is the huge, grey area of influence and response!
When things are outside of our control, we could accept them and roll with the changes if that’s honestly the most sensible thing to do. Yet there are a great many instances when there is something we can’t control but we can have an influence on, and there are also many times when we can take back some of the power by choosing how we respond to whatever the situation is.
A simple, practical example
Let’s say you are planning your wedding reception and dealing with the horror of where a particularly difficult, argumentative relative is seated for the meal. Clearly, there is something about this that you cannot control. Difficult Aunt Doris is coming to the wedding, whether you like it or not. There would be uproar if you didn’t invite her!
Now let’s look at what you can influence about this. We all know that wedding reception seating is pretty political. So, you can’t just put her as far away from you as possible, but you can influence how she behaves by seating her next to calming, sensible family members who won’t antagonise her.
Finally, there is your response to consider. While Aunt Doris might get drunk and start an argument, no matter how well influenced she is by the carefully chosen people on her table, you can still control your own response to the situation. You don’t have to join in with the argument, and you don’t have to let it ruin your whole event.
You could take the mindset that a little drama adds to the fun – nobody wants to be at a boring, quiet wedding reception anyway!
Maybe it’s all the personal development quotes I’ve seen on Instagram, or all the self-help books I’ve read, but personally, I just can’t see that old saying as a complete sentence – not in today’s world. I think it’s important to remember that while we can’t control much of life, we can influence a lot of it.
Many of the messages we pick up from our parents and grandparents while we are growing up don’t completely hit the nail on the head for the world we are living in today.
We are lucky. We have much better healthcare than the generations before us. Sure, there is a lot going on in the world of politics right now, and there will always be spanners thrown into the works – but there’s a lot to be thankful for too.
With the birth of the Internet, careers are more flexible than they ever have been. It is increasingly common for people to retrain and make a career change in mid-life. We are no longer bound to the career choice we made when we left school.
The bottom line really is this - some of these older ideas and attitudes that we grew up with are not that relevant to today’s world. Sure, there is some timeless wisdom out there too, but what I’m suggesting is to be a little selective about which ideas you let influence your thinking process.
Today we have more power, choice, and influence than ever before, so don’t be bound by the past, but look to the future with an open mind.
You might find that you have more influence than you realised.