“When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11
No matter what age we are, I believe there is an inner boy or girl living on the inside of us. Reminding us to not take things, including ourselves so seriously at times. Also reminding us to laugh, play and even cry when those emotions are what we feel at any given moment. Children are experts at simply being who they are, they typically aren’t pretentious, arrogant or prideful. They play hard, laugh hard and when they are sad, they usually cry unapologetically.
As a dad of four children (including one inherited by marriage) , I have been blessed to experience the joys and pains of raising kids. My children have lived life like any other happy kid does, fun-loving, loud, quick tempered at times, typically selfish, yet with hearts of gold.
So what happens when that inner child controls the outer adult, the way one thinks, resolves conflict and works out complicated life issues? The answer – things usually do not end well and additional problems may be incurred that one may find difficult to comprehend. No matter hard he/she searches, the answers seem to allude the inner child seeker, like having a preference for cotton candy versus broccoli.
As I reflect on my life and consider my own inner child and the moments I’ve allowed him to dominate how I resolved conflict or interacted with complicated adult affairs, I recall a man who made decisions based on fear and anger primarily. Rarely did I take adequate time to really consider another perspective. It was all about my feelings and no one could change how I felt. It was the adult version of stomping and kicking when I failed to get my way. Who does that? The boy or girl (inside) who still has yet to become a mature adult, that’s who.
So how does one begin to authentically grow up and not only take responsibility for their actions, but own their yesterday’s, tomorrow’s and the rest of their lives? For me it was a combination of a few things, but one thing in particular. And it was not simply going to a good counselor, praying to God for direction or reading good books, although I believe each one of those are essential for growth and authentic change.
My transformation began to take place when the stubborn, self-righteous and occasionally insensitive man I was (and still working on) began to die. No one in particular told me he needed to die, however my current circumstances at the time spoke volumes to need of his demise. It’s kind of like a moment when you look back on life and finally see, with your heart and your mind, the causalities of your actions lying all about you.
It’s not a moment where I said, “I need to start doing better.” It’s a moment where I realized that I needed to start over. Like reset my life on how I thought, responded and interacted with myself and those around me. My life as it was, was being dominated by the inner child who was still seeking approval, fought hard to be understood and looked forward to being coddled by others. Looks and sounds pretty much like a kid to me.
So one day I woke up not too many years ago, and began my journey of transformation. Again, not a mission to just do better with the tools I had, but to become a new person and utilize tools that I would most likely be unfamiliar with (like self-soothing) yet finally open to. As I set out on this journey of change, with pure intent, God placed some tremendous people along my path who not only introduced some of these new tools and skills, but displayed them in such a beautifully humanistic way that it became life changing to understand, and incredibly humbling to witness in action.
In no way am I perfect today, nor do I always get things right. That inner child will always live inside of me, however he will no longer control how I engage as a grown man, but he will help me to keep things simple, laugh out loud and not take myself so seriously at times. For him I am grateful.
“Be ruthless for your own well being” – Holly Butcher
This evening while reading Internet news, I came across a story from a woman that recently died at the young age of 27. She died from cancer and chose to share her story about what really matters in life. The words were encouraging and bold, but what struck me most about her words, was the timing.
How does someone set a part the time, along with grasping the courage to write departing words, not only to a few good friends, but to the world, or why did she even care?
Of course social media makes it easy, but it still requires the sheer will of someone, especially someone on their death bed to care enough to leave a message that is meant to inspire, encourage and give a little direction on what really matters in life, at the end of the day.
So as I ponder on her quote above, I think about my time here on earth of almost 50 years. I am grateful, yet equally frozen for a moment thinking on what I easily take for granted each day of my life.
The air I breathe, the family and friends I call my own and the meaningful life I live each day can easily be lost in the rigor of my daily routine. Holly Butcher, with great poise, dignity, a passion for life, along with a respect for death, attempted to point that out for us all.
I take her words, like never be late to visiting a friend, and spend more time enjoying moments versus capturing them on a screen to heart.
What is your life?
Do you spend more time worrying about what will or will not happen, versus living in the now? Each moment we have matters so much and the more time we spend neglecting the essentials of life, like sharing, giving, loving, healing and appreciating others, we miss so much of why we are here.
And perhaps that is the issue. Not knowing why we are here. Without that understanding, life has no purpose, no significance and no meaning. However with Holly’s words, I am encouraged.
Encouraged that someone I will never know had the courage and concern to write words that will forever impact the life of others across the world before she died.
I cannot match her words, nor will I try. I am simply reminded of what I have today and to be grateful for it. Every relationship, every morning I am blessed to see the rising sun and every obstacle I have been through, whether successfully or perhaps even with great failure. I am still here, alive, breathing and able to continue trying. Holly is not, like so many others .
What is your life? We are here for but a moment in time. For some, a lifetime may last 100 years, while for others it may be only a quarter of that, or even less. What matters is what are we doing with the seconds and minutes that we now have.
Do you find yourself complaining about what you lack, what hurts in your body, or how much money you wished you had? I get it, I really do, but I unapologetically say, none of that really matters in the big scheme of things. That is all frivolous and irrelevant when you place your life and the time you have to live in perspective.
Today and tonight I am grateful. Grateful for the air I breathe, my imperfect marriage, my healthy children (and their mother), my immediate family and friends that love with intention and passion in their own unique ways.
What is your life? Mine is blessed by God and I am grateful to Him for each day I have, and I must live it like it will be my last, as we all should.
Please read Holly’s story here – http://sosueme.ie/lifestyle/the-incredible-letter-everyone-needs-to-read/
“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.
”In order to save myself, I must destroy first the me I was told to be.” – The Dreamer
Yesterday I was thinking of all the ways that God has blessed me. I think of my family, my career and being in great health at 49 years of age. None of this has come easy, but I am grateful for all of it.
However, I was thinking even a little deeper than just those obvious things. I thought about the many gifts and talents I was born with or have learned over the years of my life, that unfortunately still lie dormant. I think of the many reasons (excuses) I have given myself to keep them on the shelf. Of course none of them are really viable, but nonetheless they have created a successful bridge between it and me reaching some of my goals.
I understand that we can be and usually are, our own worst enemy and critic, but for me this goes beyond just coming down on myself. I read somewhere (that I cannot recall at this moment), that many people place their goals on the shelf due to fear. And the weird thing is it is not fear to fail at it, but to actually become successful in it. Imagine that one thing holding people back is the idea that they will become successful and that concept becomes the paralyzing factor.
So one way I have learned to mitigate this is to write things down and make myself accountable to a few trusted people who will question my progress and status of a project. I have given them complete license to do so, and it helps to remind me of the big picture I have created to remain focused and on task.
However, even with my friends licensed to annoy me to no end, it will not be enough to get me through those stale seasons. The dark places where every excuse seems legitimate to me. The times when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed and tired. Something in me has to break free, almost to a type of righteous indignation level. You know when you begin speaking to yourself like it is time to do it and no excuse works any longer?
It is as if you become angry (with yourself) for allowing yourself to hold your own self back. Yes, you look to no one as the crutch or reason for your current wilderness state. The full responsibility is yours and nothing will hold you back once you arrive at this place. You envision opportunities and finally see it clearly, the game plan required to take you to that next stage in your life journey.
So what is on your list? A mediocre relationship that has lost it’s fervor, a job that is uninspiring, your desire to lose weight and always end up in the same place, being retired and going through the motions of a dull and uneventful life or it just an overall feeling of being stuck?
Well I get it and can totally relate, but me relating to you will not help you. What are you going to do? What do you believe about yourself? What mission does your purpose serve, or better yet who does it serve? This type of life transformation cannot be about getting rich or having the perfect anything. Those “things” become a by-product of the mission.
For example, I been writing a book for several years that is in the beginning editing stages, but if I allow the past to dictate the future, the book will sit in this condition for another two years. I believe it will serve a great purpose for my potential readers, but this idea in itself will not produce anything. Only my actions to follow through will, allowing nothing to distract me.
A break-out moment is the time in our lives when one becomes so focused on what they need to do, that they start with what they have, where they are and trust they will have what they need for every stage of the journey. Excuses are no longer a part of their vernacular. Each struggle becomes an opportunity to grow, learn a new thing and press closer to the ultimate goal.
One cannot be coaxed into the place. It has to be a personal choice, a choice that lies deep within our souls, well beneath the layers of self-doubt, second guessing relatives and friends and the critic within.
Are you ready to experience your breakout moment? I’d love to hear about it. Please share it on the comment section of this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or theupsideofdown.org
“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.
“I’m learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me.” – A.G.
Have you ever been in a cycle of your life where you found yourself more angry and uptight than at peace? A time when everyone and most circumstances that evolved around your life seemed like an annoying problem. You know that season of your life when the only time you weren’t complaining is when you were sleeping, but even then peace was far from your slumber?
Not only were you perpetually unhappy, but those around you hated to see you coming, because you certainly were the dark cloud in their lives as well. Of course you didn’t mean to be, (maybe) but you were. The center of turmoil for many, but mostly yourself. Even if others would argue that, it probably is still true that you were more miserable than you were making others.
Perhaps that was you once upon a time, or it accurately describes the place you are in today. If you are taking the to read this post, than it must mean you are somewhat concerned about your current status of being a tyrant, party pooper, or the one that family, friends and acquaintances avoid. Or better yet, you recognized this state of affairs long ago and have since done the work to bring it into submission.
However if you are that one that still finds themselves blaming others for your current condition and are adamant about it, I pray this post gives you some insight and encourages you to finally see yourself and how you impact others around you, but most especially yourself.
We all have a family member, friend or colleague who will go to their grave arguing about the unfairness of life. Nothing ever works, nothing ever fits or goes their way and it is always someone else’s fault or responsibility.
One word that comes to mind when describing this personality, and that is…draining. They are energy zappers and usually have no idea the travail they bring to every doorstep and circle they are connected to. And I get it, sometimes they are connected to us in ways that we cannot avoid or change, so removing ourselves from them may not always be an option.
So what are we supposed to do when we’re confronted by knuckleheads, consistent bitchy attitudes and downright mean individuals, who want nothing more, but to see us in misery and turmoil? Well I am reminded of a scripture in the Bible that says, “Be at peace with all men as much as it depends on you.” – Romans 12:18. In other words, the peace we need to experience in our lives may take some work and discipline on our side, and it does not necessarily mean becoming a doormat. If we continue to wait for others to get better, finally see the light or turn over a new leaf, we may find ourselves disappointed, because some never grow up and mature.
As a nearly 50 year-old man, it took me a while, but I finally recognize my peace is mine to own and protect. No one should ever be able to penetrate my appropriated peace unless I give them permission to enter. Anything short of that should be declared as a violation of personal space.
So how do we get there? To that place where the unhappiness of close friends no longer depicts our well-being or state of mind. Of course we will and should always be sensitive to world events and concerned about what is happening in our communities and families, however when these events consistently overwhelm us and begin to take precedence over our well-being, we have surpassed the point of simply being concerned citizens or good people. We enter the world of becoming a victim to bullsh*t.
Since this is NOT the road I plan to travel on I made the choice to grow up and understand my place in the lives of others, whether they were hostile family members, antagonizing colleagues or unruly acquaintances. That growth looked liked me not being attached to there issues any longer. I learned the art of separation. Not from them as people in the world, but as people attempting to drag me into their unresolved issues, specifically the ones that I had no involvement with.
So many times we caring people want to save the world around us, (and I commend us for that) but when it comes at the cost of our mental stability and health, I think not. We must become comfortable being uncomfortable. Simply stated, get used to the fact that everyone will not be happy when you finally take a stand for what you believe is right for you.
Love them and give them advice when they seek it, but stop attaching yourself to their issues that have nothing to do with you. Stop being a victim and a puppet. Live your life without guilt. We are NOT responsible for the emotions and feelings of others. We are not to blame for the shortcomings of our dearest friends and mates. We have this life to live and we must all grow up at some point. For those that choose to remain in perpetual adolescence, I’ll be praying for you, but from afar.
“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
For many years of my life I have made the conscious choice to cower down, give in, and refute my own heart for others. For me that looked like a young man agreeing with something that I did not whole-heartedly believe in, and as a grown man with responsibilities, including a wife and children, it looked pretty much the same, except it has had a much greater impact.
Not only has this decision brought me tremendous grief, it has equally brought me to a place of grave disappointment, utter confusion, along with a heavy heart. A heavy heart that spent many late nights wondering why it could not stand up for itself in times when it meant the most. For years I would repeat the cycle of living in anguish for what I initially believed was for the greater good, only to recognize I had done it again. That is, placed someone or something else before myself. And unfortunately, that greater good was rarely manifested as an actual good for yours truly.
In some ways even the idea of considering ourselves rubs up against the selfish vs. giving strings of our personalities. I know, that was me and typically why I consistently gave into what I ultimately chalked up as just that, me simply being selfish or inconsiderate towards someone or something I should care more about. And so I would have a change of heart or talk myself into becoming congruent with ideas that others had, despite what I felt in my heart, or what I knew was right.
Have you ever been there? Men and women alike can find themselves here, although how it looks may differ. I can only speak for myself and will not attempt to explain how one should feel while in this place. I am only here to say it must become something that we consider if we consistently see ourselves on the short end of stick of life.
Perhaps another commonly used term for this is being a “people-pleaser”. Someone attempting to get along with others at any cost. The truly sad part about this is at it’s core, is we are not getting along with anyone because what we are portraying is a lie to ourselves and to them, so the actual falsehood is in stark contradiction to having peace and living in our truth. Even if our current truth changes next year, (or next month) while it remains our truth we must contend with it, or else it will slowly deteriorate the fabric of our peace of mind.
So what does it look like to live in courage versus comfort? For me it looks like several things.
1. I now take my time to give someone an answer. – In times past I would be quick to agree or disagree before really considering what the issues were. It was a pressure I solely placed on myself, but the sheer burden forced me to prematurely make a decision that was not well thought out, and certainly removed of good intentions and authentic realness.
2. I say “no” if I mean no. – In my line of business there is a statement we use that says, “ If you can’t say no, what does your yes really mean”. Think about that. For a great part of my life, I said yes just to go along with the flow of others. It brought me angst and restlessness, but it was how I chose to live, until I begin to see the pain I was inflicting upon myself.
3. I brought into equilibrium, the “the taking it personal button”. – For years my emotions were worn on my sleeves, and I projected that frame of mind on others, so since any disagreement with me hurt my feelings, I assumed it hurt others as well. Once I begin to understand that having a diversity of thought was not necessarily a bad thing or did not have to equate to anything personal, I was able to release myself from the emotional disarray that usually accompanied my thought process, and took me down a paralyzing rabbit hole I had a difficult time finding my way out of.
4. I am thoughtful and I value my own ideas. – It took me a considerable amount of time to understand this one, but one day I realized that not only am I okay in my current state, I am great. I have always been a thoughtful person and I take pride in being a deep thinker and a deep feeler, therefore I know when I give an opinion (whether it is popular, rejected or accepted) it comes from a meaningful place and is worthy of mentioning. So today that is what I do. I share it with joy and no longer worry about where it falls, how it is received or resonates with others. It is enough all by itself, as I am.
So at the end of the day, my comfort was not comfort at all. Nor was my so-called courage. It was quite the contrary and only served to perpetuate my internal struggle of living in fear. Most guys will never admit this, but we too consider what others think of us and how we are perceived. We tend to dress it up differently and use widely acceptable tactics to gloss over hard facts that are undeniable.
My choice today is to live in my truth. My choice today is to live with authentic courage, even if that means I must often challenge my own way of thinking and ultimately the way I live my life.
“You had a purpose before anyone had an opinion” – Unknown
The other day I was listening to a Podcast about finding your purpose. Like many of you, it was not my first sit-down encounter of gathering points on a topic that is readily available for the masses, yet equally difficult to really grasp and live out. Over the years I have taught on purpose, read many books on the subject, but I was pleasantly surprised on this speaker’s particular delivery and the simplicity of it.
In times past I would proclaim that many will ultimately live outside their true purpose, yet spend a lifetime seeking it out, and inevitably that would have become their purpose; simply looking for it. What a waste I felt that was, as most would I imagine. What I failed to share and understand, due to my own ignorance was the sustaining component of living out our specific callings.
You see it is one thing to fully understand why we were created, and another thing altogether to grasp the means to that end. In other words, if I fail to understand that my purpose must connect to something much larger than myself, it will ultimately die and never fulfill it’s course in my life. So it is not enough to only discover what one’s purpose is in life, but it is equally important to understand what and who that purpose will serve. Once we make that connection, our purpose begins to reproduce life in others and becomes sustainable and viable for future encounters.
Over the years it has become crystal clear that one of my purposes in life is to teach. So for years I taught in church, various topics about how to live a victorious life as a Christian. I had students that eagerly attended my classes and all was good, but quite honestly, something was missing. For years I had no idea what that was. I realize now that missing component was the lack of connection I had with most of my students. Of course a few I had great connection with and knew about their lives intimately, but somewhere along my journey it became more important to convey the content, than to understand how the message was received.
Were my students able to really connect with the words proceeding from my mouth, or were they more wowed by my illustrious words, charismatic delivery and eloquent presentation? A question I may never truly know the answer to, and perhaps it doesn’t matter to the others, but to me it does. It matters today and for the rest of my life, that my purposes in life bring life to others. Not just in words, images or ideas, but in tangible life-giving moments that touch the hearts of those that choose to listen.
When you truly think about it, what else really matters at the end of the day? To me not much does. As a teacher it is essential that my students learn, grow and apply what they have been taught. Therefore, it is important for me to connect with them in ways that authentically connect with how to apply the lessons.
Many of those lessons will stem from my own life experiences, if I dare to share them. That is where the life-giving part comes into play. So I can choose to hide behind the knowledge I have and speak from a very impersonal place, or I can become a life-giver by sharing the ugly and not so happy moments that brings an array of hope, real truth, and life to my audience. Suddenly I am no longer just a teacher, but a student as well. Open to all that I seek to give.
Never forget that living out purpose is directly tied to our choice to serve others. When we fail to see that, we miss the most essential part to sustaining it. It’s not not enough to know it, we must also live it and ultimately give it.
“Once you choose hope, anything is possible” – Christopher Reeve
As I go through my life encountering new obstacle’s and trials; good times and bad times, one thing I try to keep as a way of life is to grow, learn and improve, no matter the circumstances. Whether it is discovering something new about myself, another person or embracing a new perspective on life, I try to live my life in such a way that I never become complacent or satisfied with the way things are.
I know this sounds like a common declaration, and it is, but it is also a choice to live with a commitment on something we can control. And that is, no matter what happens in our lives, we always have the option on how we react, respond and what the next steps look like in our lives.
I realize for some this may sound like an impossibility because perhaps you have lived the majority of your life underneath someone else. Not only were your best ideas and thoughts overshadowed, but they were rarely heard or even considered as an option. So if that is you, this concept may seem foreign, strange or outlandish, but it is never too late to start your best life.
Consider the fact, that no one can make you do anything. No one can make you so angry that you hit them, even if you want to. No one can make you so sad that you stay in bed with the blinds drawn for three days, even if you feel like that is the best thing to do. No one can hurt you so bad that you feel as if life is not worthy of living, even if the thought crosses your mind.
You see, we are all human and therefore we are subject to frailty, disappointment and poor decision-making, however we are also a resilient specie that tends to find our way in the darkest hours. We never really know what we are capable of until the options we once had are no longer options. Until we find ourselves with our backs against the walls of life, the path of least resistance is the preferred (human) choice.
I get it and have been there on many occasions. If I could spare myself a little initial temporary grief, even if it meant a longer period of travail after, I took that route almost every time, but I also lived to regret it every time as well.
Growing and getting better in less about just getting things right, and more about learning why you do, or should in the first place. It is coming to an understanding about who you are, how you are wired and the various proclivities you have at a specific time and realizing the specific reason you make the choices you do. And then after all that, deciding to make a better choice for yourself, consciously.
I purposely omitted specific issues that we face, like death of a loved one, death of a relationship, loss of a job and health issues that come our way, because we are all bound to encounter one or several of them in our lifetime. The key is what we do when we are there.
We will discover what we are made of, what we truly believe and how we respond during a crisis. In most cases if we actually take the time to examine our responses we will learn something new about ourselves. Perhaps that something new is favorable, and you continue down that path of growth, or perhaps that “something” fell short of what and who you thought you were. Instead of getting upset or angry with yourself, maybe it is your season of growth and getting better. Nothing beats a failure like a try, so get to trying and expect a better outcome.
“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.