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Oct 31, 2022

There is only what is

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

CEO and Co-Founder

Last week, I spoke about a new podcast I’ve been listening to from broadcast journalist, Anderson Cooper. It’s called All There Is with Anderson Cooper and it explores how people cope with grief and loss. 

I’m bringing it up again because I wanted to double-click on one powerful takeaway from the first episode of the podcast – which is about Anderson’s mother.

Anderson’s mother happens to be Gloria Vanderbilt.

I’m too much of a spring chicken to know much about Gloria Vanderbilt, but I’ve certainly heard the name Vanderbilt and I know they were powerful, rich people at some point in American history.

Side note – as you might guess, I’m really bad at Jeopardy. The only trivia questions I get right are Bible references and Taylor Swift lyrics.

During the episode, I learned a lot about Gloria’s life. She was an artist, actress,  and a fashion-icon in the 1950’s-60’s. When Gloria was little, she was involved in a high-profile custody case, as her mother and her aunt fought one another to obtain custody of her (and her inherited fortune). 

Sadly, she experienced a lot of tragedy and loss in her life – losing her husband, Wyatt, after 15 years of marriage, and losing her son, Carter, to suicide. Tragically, her son took his own life right before her eyes.

Anderson said, when thinking about the tragedies in her life, his mother never asked “Why me?”

Instead, she always said, “Why not me? Why should I be spared from the innately human experience of grief and loss?” 

Anderson went on to share that his mother had a unique way of processing and making peace with her past. He said that she refused to think about all the what-if’s of her past.

She would say, “There is no what-if, there is only what is.”

That phrase — there is no what-if, there is only what is — stood out to me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I think it’s so easy to get stuck in unhelpful thought patterns about the past. Often, I find myself ruminating on things that I actually have or had no control over.

Things like the actions of others, the impact of mental illness on those I care about, death or serious illness of a loved one.

When I look ahead at my life, I have many hopes, and many exciting what-if’s about all that is to come. But when I ponder my past, I find it helpful to make peace and find contentment with what is.

I’m curious, is there something you are making peace with from your past right now? Or perhaps your clients are getting stuck in a pattern of “what-if’s” and “if only’s.”

If it’s helpful, consider Gloria’s wise words: “There is no what-if, there is only what is.”

If this brought up any reflections you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear it.

Warmly,
Rachel
Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO/Co-Founder, Motivo
rachel@motivohealth.com

Each Monday, I’ll share my perspective on topics that mean a lot to me: growth, resilience, relationships, and leadership.

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