“Lonely is not being alone, it’s the feeling that no one cares.” – Unknown
No matter what facet of life I am in, whether working at my job as an employee, raising my children as a father, being a husband to my wife or simply living as a citizen in society, I fully understand that I am a part of a greater collective. And in that collective I run across people who are at various stages in their emotional state. Some may be harboring anger from a recent or past incident while others find themselves saddened by their current state of affairs. Regardless of the state, I know at any given time we all have been that person and will continue to be as we live from day-to-day.
However, there is a stark difference when we find ourselves in these aforementioned conditions and add loneliness to it. And I am not speaking of the act of simply being alone, but the state of feeling alone, even within a large group.
Imagine if you can that one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness, well according to an article written in the Huffington Post (March 21, 2015) this is exactly the case. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/21/science-loneliness_n_6864066.html
It is that condition where we feel disconnected to our greater surroundings and possibly continue to withdraw from our social networks. The implications can be quite detrimental specifically to our mental and physical health, and seeing how vast this number is, just in the United States alone, we either have been that person or ran across someone (almost daily) who is currently suffering from loneliness.
Like so many of us, we have equally become experts at masking, or what I refer to as the art of disguising ourselves. You know that place where we only display what we want others to see, nothing more, nothing less? This becomes a place of safety, and even if it is only an illusion it makes the sufferer feel better, at least for the necessary moment.
So what can we do to help offset the many negative implications of loneliness, short of medical science and therapy? I believe a lot and it won’t cost us a thing, except for our time and perhaps becoming a little more attuned to the people who make up our communities.
Think about how rushed we are in life on a daily basis. To the point where we hardly recognize those around us. We say our hello’s and share niceties about our weekends and our kid’s soccer game, but rarely do we actually “see” people, or better yet “hear” them.
This does not have to be a prying session of your colleague’s or neighbor’s intimate life details, but more practically a conversation that conveys mutual respect, genuine concern and a display of giving a damn about someone else. Unfortunately a rarity in our current society.
I firmly believe that we are either building bridges towards this or blowing them up on a daily basis. It is so easy to cut someone off, shun them or keep them in the shadows of our lives deliberately, and since this applies equally to our professional and personal lives, the opportunities to make a real difference are grand. It must first become our choice and then a decision to act on it.
Can we save the world? The optimistic me says yes we can, one person at a time, however in order to rescue people from themselves, the ones that understand grace, walk in gratitude and live by a faith larger than themselves must first step up and touch someone else with words and actions that matter and equally resonate with that other person.
This is where our personal time comes into play. The time required to think of someone besides ourselves, the time required to be thoughtful or considerate, just because it might cause someone else to feel better and the time required to thoughtfully listen and respond with care and empathy.
I realize it will take much to change our world, and the way things are headed it may seem like this type of post is worthless, but I am committed to doing my part and that is providing a forum for those that dare to care enough and desire to do something about it.
Let us not forget those that are lonely and despondent. Let’s remember they live next door to us, share the roads with us, work next to us, live with us or perhaps they-are-us.
“If you find it necessary to judge me by my past, don’t be surprised when I find it necessary to put you there.” – Unknown
How many times have you said, “I am sorry”, for the same thing more than a few times? You know the feeling, you feel terrible and there seems to not be enough of anything in the world to alleviate the pressure or make it go away, even for a little while. So on you go in life, feeling bad and guilty about past transgressions that once invaded every space of your life, and even though time does not necessarily heal all wounds, you know deep down that it is time to live your life with honor and self-respect.
The type of self-respect that does not disavow the victim(s) or ignores the responsibility you may have as the perpetrator, but the type of self-respect that recognizes once you have served your pennants to society or made amends for your trespasses, it is time to move on with the rest of your life.
Yes, it is simpler spoken than acted upon, but can nonetheless become a life changing moment for the accused. A moment of liberation that can transcend time and become your lifetime mantra for peace, harmony and felicity.
No one is perfect and I am certainly far from it, but I have been through enough drama in my life to realize that at some point we must simply get over it and move on. Again, not to discredit those that we hurt, but to recognize the responsibility we equally have to ourselves to live whole and full lives.
Perhaps there will always be ones in your life that believe you do not deserve to live a full life because of what you have done, but how long will it take for those persons to have a change of heart? Maybe a year from now, perhaps ten years or maybe never. So are you supposed to wait until they are good with you until you begin to live again?
The answer to move on may seem obvious, but many of us remain trapped and haunted by a past that seems to stay attached to our present conditions. Conditions that are continuously affected by yesterday, and a mind that has not learned how to be free.
So as someone who has directly lived this type of life, what can one do to finally break free from the past and begin to live, truly live? Below are a few suggestions a friend once shared with me that I still hold true to today.
1. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. – Simply stated.
2. What others think of you is none of your business. – Stop trying to please other people and wonder what they are thinking of you. You most likely will never be enough in their eyes, so move on.
3. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is about, just like they don’t know your’s. – Quit being your own worst enemy.
4. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it. – When we over think we have a tendency to cycle into a tailspin of doubt and depression, because we seem to always find and focus on the imperfections versus the beauty we hold.
5. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you, so start living your life like that is true. – Begin owning your own life.
6. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world. – Give yourself a break. Punishing ourselves will not solve the problems either.
7. Remember that man/woman who gave up? Neither does anyone else. – Never quit, someone is counting on you to make it, so they can hear your story or prevailing.
Take a little time to ponder these points and begin to apply them daily where they fit. I believe you will experience the difference versus doing nothing at all. In addition, remember that none of us are perfect. Some fail miserably many times before they finally arrive at place of maturity, and although there may be a trail of broken hearts in your wake, I pray that you seek/sought counsel and authentically see the poor decisions for what they are and learn from them.
Feeling guilty will never take the pain away, only enhance your own, so make your future bright by allowing your personal pain instigate a new path. A path that declares it will not be recognized for who you were, but who you are becoming. A new creation that is not defined by your past and lives unashamedly.
”You will never be able to escape your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.” – Paul Coelho
Just last week I witnessed a dad telling his 4-5 year old son to not be a “cry baby” because he wanted his mother. It was in a public place, so I am pretty sure the father was a bit embarrassed, not because he should have been, but because of the valueless stereotype placed on boys, (and fathers) whom one day become men that are taught to believe that emotions, specifically crying is a sign of weakness and should never be displayed.
The term is, “suck it up”, and as a dad I have used it with my own son on many occasions, and have been told the same by my father many times growing up. Initially it seems like a harmless thing, but over time young boys (like me) learned to internalize that idea, and it eventually began to shape how we think about what it meant to be a man, father and husband.
Imagine growing up and being shamed for displaying any type of emotions. Being called a cry baby, punk or sissy. After a while you learn to contain those emotions, just to protect yourself from being shamed any longer, despite the circumstances and the slow burning turmoil begins.
Now I absolutely celebrate the beauty of our differences as men and women. We each play an important role in the family and in some cases the roles are actually reversed, but nonetheless there are a unique set of attributes being disseminated to our offspring through us. Those attributes do not primarily come from what we say, but ultimately how we live and interact with our children.
What is important to take note of is one day we grow up. We become men who raise our own children, men who establish relationships, get married, interact in the work place and in our respective communities. What does this type of man give if he has been told all his life that his authentic self is weak and should be replaced by someone better, someone stronger or someone less sensitive?
He morphs into that acceptable image of a man and screams inside, because we learn it feels better to be accepted for who we are not, than to be ridiculed for who we really are.
Obviously this goes deeper than just being shamed for crying after experiencing a fall, cut or bruise. It is about the impact to our psyche, ideals about who we are and possibly who we will become in the future. If I choose to hide my best self, due to the shame I experienced for a great part of my life what have I become? Sadly I have become a liar of the worst kind. The one that lies to himself.
It took me many years to truly discover who I was. I was ashamed based on what I thought I was supposed to be true about me, but I eventually learned there was more to who I was, and those new discoveries were admirable, holistic, pure and honest. I learned that I was okay in my own skin, no matter what anyone else had to say.
So much of our lives is spent on jockeying for position, affirmation and status. We our taught at those tender young impressionable ages through expression, interactions and experiences, that we really are not good enough as we are. Therefore we spend a lifetime reinventing ourselves. For men, we define ourselves by our possessions, how strong and viral we are and the current status we hold in the workplace and community.
Of course the aforementioned list has it’s place and relevance in our lives, but far too often it becomes the standard we live by name strive for. Therefore we short-circuit the creative genius and beauty that is waiting to manifest itself.
Sadly, for so many that beauty and creative genius will die or remain dormant, trapped inside the walls of shame, disgrace and fear that someone else built for us many years prior. Like a glass ceiling we can see the other side, we just are not sure how to actually get to the other side of it. So we make do with what we know and are comfortable with, however something on the inside will always be shouting to us, “YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU ARE RIGHT NOW!”
Will you listen or simply continue living with the armor on?
“Before the truth can set you free you need to recognize which lie is holding you hostage.” – Unknown
This morning a dear friend of mind was checking in on me to see how I was doing? She reminded me that my second marriage happened during this time of year and was wondering if I was okay. After twenty years of friendship, you tend to know someone pretty well and share a common history in many areas of your lives. I am forever grateful for her, because she has helped me through much travail during some of the hardest moments I have experienced. However I can say without any anxiety, unease or ill-feelings towards my second ex-wife, I am truly good in spirit, body, mind and soul.
I can also say that I honestly had no recollection that today (or a date near this day) was that moment I stood at the altar on such a momentous occasion. I am not sure if one ever places a day like that completely out of their minds. I mean I believe a part of the memory is healthy to reflect on for continued growth and positive reflections, but when it consumes you with guilt or regret, this can be an indication you are still holding on to unresolved feelings.
So my dear friend helped me to recognize that I have indeed moved on with my life. Six years ago I would have never thought that I could get over something so devastating. It was extremely difficult to overcome, especially when I was the primary instigator of our demise. Today was like a test (and I have had many) to see where my heart was. I mean it is easy to proclaim with words where we are, even when the heart does not necessarily align with the words protruding from our mouths, but when we are put to the test in ways that only life can bring, there is no opportunity to get ready. You are, or you are not.
Today in this moment for this particular situation, I was ready. Thank God I was ready! Honestly, for me it means so much more than just being ready, but it means the work that I have committed myself to, the endless counseling sessions and the many nights of crying out to God are paying off. Not that I have arrived, but I can literally measure the progress by how I respond to unplanned interactions.
You see, it is not enough to suppress bad feelings and memories, only to see them return years or decades later unresolved with the same intensity of pain and anguish. I promised to myself that I would not become that guy. One full of bitter, disdain, hate and anger. I wanted to be free and continue being the hopeless romantic that I am. Thankfully I am, but it has come with a cost. A cost of looking within myself and owning what was mine to own.
This has been a slow journey filled with obstacles and countless hours of finally being true to myself about who I was, versus who I wanted to become. You know that place in life where you can fake it with most of the world and they buy into it fairly easily, primarily because they don’t really care one way or the other? And quite honestly neither did I? However when the struggle becomes more about our authentic growth and becoming entirely whole, this will cause one to pause on the things that matter the most.
And what matters the most to me is truth to myself. I was quite good at lying to myself in times past. I wanted to believe something about me that simply was non-existent. It took a divorce to bring that deep embedded lie to a head, but it was not enough to remain there in a state of shock. I had to do something if I wanted to be a better man. No more blaming others, no more making excuses and no more looking for an easy way out.
It was finally time to pull the layers of my own issues back. Get somewhere quiet (literally and figuratively) and learn who I was and why. As they say, “the struggle was real”, but also one of the best things I could have ever done to invest in myself.
So how are you investing in yourself? Are you still being haunted by your past? What are you doing about it? If all you’re doing is dwelling on it and feeling bad, that is not enough to move forward. It is time to put in some work! No more lying to yourself and living a double-minded life.
At the end of the day, we all fall short and make poor choices at times. The great thing is we don’t have to necessarily be defined by them, unless we do nothing. I am more than my divorces, my short-comings and multiple failures. I am more than the many botched decisions I have made over the years. Today I am a man who is growing and has taken responsibility for his actions. I live in my truth, I live in peace and no one can alter that. No one, but me.
“Sometimes you have to know someone really well to realize you’re really strangers.” – Mary Tyler Moore
As a young adult my mentor once told me that I am a deep thinker and a deep feeler. For a long time I had no idea what that really meant, but I finally figured it out about 10-15 years ago. I experienced a few life struggles and have had endless conversations with myself before I truly discovered the meaning and the value of what it meant to be wired this way.
For me it was accepting the fact that I rarely fit into a mold of what a regular guy does, what a regular guy thinks or what even a regular guy feels at times. Don’t get me wrong, I am a man and embody the full characteristics of a regular guy, but in many cases my opinions, thoughts and ideas differ from most men. I am neither better or less than any other guy, but I am me, Henry.
One area this has impacted my life more than anywhere else is in my relationships, both male in bonding and female intimacy. I have always longed to know my friends in a deep and meaningful way. It was really like a prerequisite to being my real friend, or you simply fell into the acquaintance category, which was easy to do.
The most influential component to this type of relationship is the ability and the choice to become vulnerable to another. Not just anyone, but to a specific person or select group of people. It is making the choice to live outside the shadows of comfort and ambiguity, and become authentically known by someone. Known in a way that reveals your true identity, embarrassing flaws and imperfect beauty.
To discover and experience such a relationship is very rare and many will never find it, not because it was not available to them, but because it is much simpler to remain in the shadows of life, than to give the pieces of us that reveal our true character, motivations and layers of who we really are.
It has been imbedded in us since we were kids. That concept to suck it up, pretend it doesn’t hurt, (when it absolutely does) smile even when you feel bad and never let them see you sweat. It all sounds good and seems like a smart recipe to becoming a strong kid/adult. But is it really? Is the end product really stronger, better and more in touch with their true identity or are they being taught to become great at pretending, faking and that lying to themselves is okay?
I am not here to answer that question for you or the world, but I can speak for myself and those I have relationships with. At the end of the day, I just want to know you and I want you to know me. The real me, the strong me, the afraid me, the confident and fragile me, the indecisive me, the smart me, the don’t have it all together yet me, the broken and getting back on my feet me. Just me and my imperfect beauty and strength. Can you handle that?
Many cannot and will abandon you at first indication of true reality setting in, but that’s okay because they are not worthy of who you really are. They will not be able to grasp it or understand how to engage in this type of relationship, so they will naturally find an exit for themselves. Allow them to go.
I have learned that the first person we lie to is ourselves, so until we can begin to live our truth to ourselves first, we will continue to live in the shadows of mystery, illusions and ultimately darkness. The by-product seems to always be disappointment, brokenness and a sense of being incomplete. Who wants to keep living this way, even if it causes you to feel okay for a season?
That season will one day come to an end and what will you have left to claim? The lie? I have been there, done that and understand it is no longer the life for me.
As a deep thinker and a deep feeler, I will always ask why. It is in my DNA. I will always probe and never settle for the easy way out. I will deeply feel my questions and responses, which will motivate me understand better and with more clarity. I will not be quick to judge, but I demand truth, not half lies. When you give me truth I give you me, when you offer me lies our relationship is no longer credible, and will eventually die. Our lives are too short for anything less, because I just want to know you, nothing more and nothing less and it takes a lifetime to attain.
“You are what you do, not what you say you will do.” – Unknown
How many times have your dreams been shattered or the perfect ideal of what you thought you wanted only led to great disappointment? Wait don’t answer that question, because we all have been there to some degree. Whether in great magnitude or on a small-scale. I imagine it’s a definite indicator of being a human being.
So, since we are all pretty much experiencing this at some point in our life journeys, how are we dealing with it? Are we overcoming new obstacles, putting into practice lessons learned, repeating poor decisions, getting it, like really getting it, or are we falling into the same destructive patterns that led us once-upon-a-time into distressing emotional turmoil, depriving physical estrangement or financial disarray?
I know we all want to believe we are growing and getting better as we get older, but the true test falls under the category of, “the life we are currently living”. Quiet honestly not much else matters. Our words are great and have their place, but if they fail to align with our current actions, they simply fall to the ground and hold no barring for anyone, which actually causes us to not look so becoming to those that bother to listen to us.
So, like me you let someone down by breaking a promise. You fell short of the ideal mark. You proved that you were not quite ready for the commitment. You accepted and agreed to deliver without fully understanding the full picture (or perhaps you did and still didn’t care). You failed to consider the cost and said yes anyway, or you simply weren’t ready. Or perhaps you always knew the situation/relationship would fail, but you went through it anyway. On the other hand, you were the recipient of all these. Welcome to the club, but let it be your goal to expeditiously remove yourself from this membership as soon as possible, because lifetime affiliation is honestly not good thing.
My core values fall under the category of perpetual optimist. I inherently believe most people want to do the right thing, even when they do not. This is not to say that I fail to recognize there will always be an element that do not have my best interest at hand. I simply choose to believe the majority will. Call me naive.
That said, after I have endured my own pity party, played the blame game, suffered as a victim and been let down, a few questions still lied before me. What the heck am I going to do now that my heart has been broken or I broke someone else’s? What will my next steps be when my alleged soul mate found someone else or worse, cheated on me? How do I recover when I am left with nothing?
I can say there must be a season of licking your wounds, grieving and remaining to yourself. The length of time all depends on how deep the wound is and what type of help and work you commit to. Some of us bounce back quickly, while others may take years. We are all different and should give ourselves license to heal at own our pace, but we must also be cognizant of becoming bitter, numb and distant, as this is counterproductive to truly moving forward.
For those that fall under the category of heartbreaker, remember that you are also human and subject to frailty. Not an excuse to repeat past poor behavior, but more importantly an opportunity to correct it, own it and make amends for it. This is a lot easier said than done, but nonetheless a critical and mature step. At minimum (and especially when the victim refuses to speak with you) forgive yourself and take corrective authentic action to become a better man or woman.
It is never too late to learn a new thing, only to those that fail to see their impact and power in the world. When we recognize how important and relevant we are, we take quicker action to remedy unfavorable situations. We understand the sooner we heal, accept our failure and own the steps we took to promote the demise of another, the sooner we will be free to live the lives we were meant to live.
The sunshine awaits us, especially the broken soul. Your beauty is radiant and filled with promise. The promise to deliver a message that embraces empathy and encourages hope and promise. Living beyond broken promises and disappointment is a gift. A gift to everyone that crosses our path, because our lives have been enriched with a deep brokenness and pain that enables us to see life in different way. A way that not only sees beyond right now, but offers a real hope for tomorrow, despite the current circumstances faced.
“Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it faith. Feed it truth. Feed it with love.” – Unknown
Today is Father’s Day and if you manage to find yourself celebrating this American tradition, you along with millions of others will take the time to honor the men in your lives that are called fathers. Whether biological, distant relatives, or simply great role models. Honestly, I try not to get too caught up with these type of man-made holidays, especially for my children, because as a kid it added so much unnecessary pressure on me to spend time on a purchase, versus spending the time honoring the one(s) that impacted my life in a meaningful way. So I choose to celebrate the day reflecting on those that made a difference in my life and pay less attention on what I can do for them.
Regardless of my personal stance with the “day”, I cannot help but to take a moment and reflect on what it means to me to be a father. With the insurmountable statistics that negate the positive influences that black fathers like me have in the world, today it is important to acknowledge those that still struggle, yet are trying to do the right thing.
I read something today that sparked a thought, and that was the many invisible accusers we have as men and fathers. Many of us have not done the right thing along our journey as men, (and some never will) but some of us bloom later in life and finally figure it out, and want to do what is right. And even though we are not always sure what “doing right” looks like, our hearts are pure and ripe for wholesome interactions with those we call family, especially for our children. One thing we must consider, is good intentions do not necessarily equate to a good outcome, so patience, good counsel and consistency is important during this time.
What we also need to recognize are the many voices in our heads that speak doubt, fear and promote insecurity. These are such big deals for us, even if we choose to not admit it. Our worst enemy lives inside our heads and reminds us of our past failures, poor decisions and inability to simply get it right, however for those of us that choose to not live in the past, we are seeking new revelations, new beginnings and pressing towards a new future that is not defined by who we were, once upon a time.
Contrary to popular belief, old things do and can pass away, but unfortunately many (included you and me) will not ever see the manifestations of what it looks like to live a different life if we fail to own this for ourselves. I mean like really different! Where authenticity has become a part of your new DNA and you will swear to your own hurt even if it means doing what is honorable and right.
The invisible accuser will always attempt to live in our heads. Accept that as a way of life. We have gave him much ammunition to tempt us, deceive us and get us off track, but once we connect with who we truly are we become a threat to those voices. It is in that place where are intentions need to align with are actions.
This in not the time to faint, but stand strong on the convictions of your spirit and soul. Walk in humility (strength in control) and live a life of integrity. This will pay dividends towards your future and current relationships.
I will never be perfect, but I am here. Living a life that will ultimately encourage a positive legacy despite my past, and what others have to say about who I was. My proof is in the current relationships I foster daily, for they speak volumes to who I am (versus who I use to be) like nothing ever will.
Everyday (thanks to my newness in Christ and choice to grow) I am getting better everyday and I defy the invisible accuser. I am more than my past as you are. Happy Father’s Day!
“Before we can surrender ourselves, we must become ourselves, for no one can give up what he/she does not first possess.” – Unknown
So many times you wanted to let go or give in, only to find after a short amount of time you are back in the same rut or situation you desperately tried to remove yourself from. Perhaps you had good intentions, sound advice and the will to move to the next step, but you may have been missing one of the most important elements required to undergo authentic change, transformation or evolution.
That element is to surrender. Defined; to agree to stop fighting, hiding, or resisting, because you know you will not win, or to release control to something or someone else. Just the thought of submitting or giving into anything or anyone sends most of us into a downward spiral. The antennas of resistance soon prop their heads up and naturally act to bring calm to the situation. That is to say, surrender is seldom a peaceful transition, and our will to be in control will rise up (if allowed) and dominate the situation. This pseudo peace will be short-lived and only expedite our return to chaos, dysfunction and turmoil.
So why is it so difficult to surrender and why do we so many people struggle with acting on it? Below our a few reasons to consider and how we can overcome them.
1. I must feel safe – Imagine yourself falling back, arms folded, back to the those who are supposed to catch you, with your eyes closed. Just this act brings angst to our souls. “What if they allow me to fall to the ground”, are common thoughts, however when we believe we our safe, falling becomes easier to do. So how do you start to feel safe? Of course this varies with the circumstances and the people in place, but you may never be able to feel 100% safe. Does that mean we should freeze and discount the process? By all means no, but weighing the options while becoming a bit more familiar with choices you have, along with applying some well thought out wisdom certainly cannot hurt. Bottom line is we need to reveal all the unknowns possible, but at some point there will still remain a risk, but minimizing the risks can help you to feel a bit more at ease.
2. I must understand there is a larger purpose and plan – It will be easier to remain on the fence when we do not fully understand why surrendering can be in your best interest. We will spend more energy resisting a possible greater purpose for ourselves when we are ignorant to what the outcome could be in its totality. In order for this to occur effectively, we will need to step away and enlist the support of some wise counsel. Often it is difficult for us to see the ultimate why, like not seeing the forest for the trees. We are usually so close to the situation that we fail to recognize the potential beauty that awaits us. Even if it is a glimpse, when we begin to better understand and obtain a larger view of why we must fully let go, the better it will feel and the easier it will be to act on those feelings.
3. I must administer patience during the process – If we want great things to occur in our lives, they usually take time, but when we lack the patience required to get there, we will inevitably short-cycle the journey, or in turn take many unnecessary steps that lead to countless delays. And perhaps those delays are a part of our learning, but the sooner we can grasp that, the closer we are at arriving to where we need to be. Surrendering requires us to become still. Sometimes we have no answers or words, but this is not a time to quit. We must give license to time and waiting. No real change happens overnight or simply because we think it should. Patience is essential during this time because it will allow authentic transformation to occur in you.
The act of surrendering is not simply letting go and letting God. It is not falling into an abyss of nothingness or being uninformed about what you are doing. Quite the contrary. Even the Bible tells is to count the cost before we engage into a calling, so it behooves us to make decisions based on faith, prayer and some facts that we can understand. And when we decide to release control, we do it with an understanding that there are risks associated, but we are ready and have prepared ourselves the best we know how. Now when you fall back you can trust someone will be there to not only catch you, but help propel you to the next stage of your journey.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti
Once upon a time we were the apple of someone’s eye. Whether it was our parents, spouse, another family member or perhaps a school teacher or mentor, we could seemingly do no wrong. There is nothing like that feeling and I believe it is essential for us all to have high esteem and see ourselves as individuals that can achieve anything that we put our minds to.
In order to maintain a healthy outlook on life, along with the many pursuits that come with it, and to not allow our desire to live a life full of pride and honor to become mistaken for arrogance, self-righteousness or self-appointed entitlement, it is equally important that we practice living with compassion, humility, mindfulness and gratitude.
The interesting thing about these attributes along with similar ones, is they are not instinctive. We never have to teach our children how to be selfish, mean-spirited or to lie. Quite the contrary right? It is the human condition and has always existed. So if we are born this way and as adults continue to see ourselves as invincible, invulnerable, supreme or even bulletproof, it is no wonder that we find ourselves struggling when it comes to living life by the golden rule – “Treat others as you want to be treated.”
At its core, this idea violates everything we stand for from birth, so it is not easily shaken, overcome or altered, as much as we want to believe it is. Even with our faith in God, it is still a lifetime of trials, growth and learning new things about our fragility and capabilities to be perfectly human. And sometimes the being human part is what we tend to forget or neglect.
I get it that we want to teach our children to be the best, (and we should) and to aim high in life, but let us also not forget to share with them that living meaningful and full lives is not only about accomplishments, goals and having new things. Let us share with them that richness in life can be found in failure, and although our struggles may cause us to become ultimately stronger, they first may cause us to feel vulnerable, weak and fragile. Attributes most of us are seldom comfortable with and would rather just pass to the next guy, (present company included) but I realize that if my struggles have done nothing else, they have done this one thing very well. That is to help me get over myself.
The characteristics I would rather not recall, yet are essential parts of who I am, and without the experiences I would be less of a man. I say this because I recognize the value in what I learned through the process. It was painful, disturbing, disappointing, and at times hurtful, however it was equally life changing. I can honestly sit here today and say I know who I am. I am far from perfect, but I am better. Not better than any other human out there in the world striving to grow, but better than who I use to be. That is enough for me.
So I know that I am still the apple of a couple of people’s eye, (like my mother’s and youngest child) but I no longer live for that or even try to uphold the image, because at some point people will be let down. At the end of the day I am human, pressing to grow in character, which for me equates to courage, not simply seeking to be stronger for strength’s sake, but courage that equates to admitting my own faults, failures and ability to live in truth even when it hurts me the most.
“I’m not giving up, I’m just starting over.” – Unknown
You were strong, vibrant and life seemed perfectly intact and even predictable to some degree, until it wasn’t. Then one day it all fell a part, almost out of nowhere. After you cried in disbelief, and wallowed in personal misery for a while, eventually you reopened the curtains to your self-inflicted dark life and began to take notes on what the hell happened to you.
Often times accepting what and why things fell a part is harder to take than the occurrence of the actual event itself. This is true because once we start to examine the real causes of our temporary demise we begin to not only see, but understand how we failed. And once we are able to ascertain the layers behind the cause we usually cannot point a finger at anyone but our lowly selves.
However, if you have any gumption in you at all, you also fully recognize that this event has also provided you with something new. A new opportunity to start over, hit the reset button and begin again. I will always believe that it is never too late to start over, no matter our age or the circumstances. The ingredients for success lie within each of us. We just need to be able to pull the lessons out and apply them to where we are today.
So where are you today? Have you let go of the past or do you still hold on to it with feelings of guilt or anger? Have you reconciled with the people involved or is that even possible? Are you able to face the situation or people involved without angst in your heart? This is usually a tell-tell sign you have finally released the past.
None of this simply happens because we want it to, or because it is the right thing to do. It totally depends on the work we do in the time we have to accomplish it. If we spend more time complaining about what occurred and seeking excuses versus recognizing and owning our part, we still have not arrived at the promise land and will ultimately find ourselves in the wilderness of life again searching for truth that is actually nearer than we could imagine, but still out of reach.
There is nothing like owning your own poor decisions. Once we own them, no one can throw it in your face later with any sting. Our acceptance provides us with an opportunity to grow, learn and heal. These are like one way tickets to a better future.
So are you ready to go there? Are you tired of being bogged down by past issues? Well face them with dignity and courage. Own them and reconcile it. Get help if needed, but do not allow your past to dictate your future. There is still much to live for, so go live!