“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.
”No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it” – Albert Einstein
Nothing beats a failure like a good-ole-fashioned try right? Wrong. For some of us, this route has been a pain-staking journey that has led us on paths we would rather not remember. As relieving as the inability to not recall our past may sound, we should equally understand we simply cannot forget. Not because we don’t want to, but because we cannot. The intertwining weave of brokenness, pain, hurt, anger, emptiness and even spouts of joy has found its way deep into the pockets of our souls, which won’t allow us to simply erase what was.
This does not necessarily have to equate to a present life of misery, unforgiveness and shame, but it certainly can and has been the story for many, including present company for many years. For many years I was that guy who allowed the past to dictate the future. As much as I tried, I was unable to break the negative cycles that seemed to torment my every move and relationship. I was doing the right things, so I thought.
I went to counseling, prayed to God and spoke to trusted friends, however one important part was missing. That missing piece was my inability to get past myself.
Often times when we blow it in life, we tend to label ourselves as the biggest losers on the face of the earth. This frame of mind can become impenetrable even towards God, the wisest of words and sound counsel. A hardened heart cannot hear.
So there we are, living our lives as if nothing has gone awry. We smile when we’re suppose to, talk about the kids as if they have no problems and as for our relationships – well they couldn’t be better we say. In most cases the ones we are sharing these so-called truths with, reciprocates the effort with the greatest of ease. Sound familiar?
Although we may repeat moments like this effortlessly over and over again, one thing holds true, whether we want to admit it or not. Once we have shared and walked away, something inside of us tends to feel more alone than before we spoken. The reality of our empty words consumes the moment and we become saddened with the idea of being the only one who feels this way, even though we are not alone.
Change never come easy, especially when that change means the life that we know today may never be the same again. Our desire to hold on to what we know often overshadows the ugly reality that we live in and usually feels more comfortable than the gaping hole and dissatisfaction that we are currently living in.
What if it could be different? What if there were a way to stop living behind the veil of perfection and just be you? The you that cry’s when he/she is sad, the you who admits imperfection at the perfect time, the you who stands against injustice, even when it’s unpopular in your community and the you who dares to become vulnerable in the most inauspicious moments. Is it even possible, or is this just a fairytale idea?
Life is not just a about what you make it and who you share it with, but more importantly how you share it. The things we choose to give away from within are the things that will resonate with others and give them life, and in turn give life to us. The type of life that reaches to the depths of our being and speaks in that small still voice saying I hear you, I see you and you matter.
Yes, change is hard work, however it is essential and a part of our own humanness, but somewhere along the journey of life, of becoming better people, we have lost our deep longing to simply be who we are. A people who were created to dwell together and make this world better, more sustainable, safe and a stable place for the next generations that come after us. Tall buildings and technology will inevitably always be a part of this equation, but those things alone will never replace the human element that exist in each of us. The desire to be authentically known and accepted by another. The soul that is saying, “I am here”.
“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.
“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.
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” – Unknown
I’m not much of a gardener, but I appreciate the multiple colors that flowers can bring to a dull landscape or front yard. Regardless of the arrangement, type of flowers planted or the blend of colors, it is always a sight to see them in full bloom. I suppose it is why so many of us head to our local nurseries every spring to plant flowers that bring life, color and beauty to our otherwise simple yards.
Today I found myself thinking about the blooming of flowers and its close correlation to our lives unfolding in different seasons. As we the gardeners plant our choice of flowers in the dirt, we have expectations that we will see the manifestations of our work at some point in the near future. We will do the work of watering and making sure our flowers have the proper nutrients to grow in their environment, all so we can experience the magic of the colorful blooms of our perfected arrangement.
Like a flower, we often have untapped beauty waiting to be experienced and seen by the those that can appreciate its wonder, amazement and vitality. But what if that flower fails to bloom? We immediately recognize that something is not right and we go into the “fix it” mode, because one, we paid for a flower that is supposed to bloom, and two it falls short of the anticipated array we envisioned from the lawn and garden books we studied.
So how does all this tie in to us? Well if I asked you if you were blooming, what would your answer be? Are you allowing the beauty that lives in you to shine through, or are you hiding it, due to shame, lack of confidence or have you become more comfortable with conveying another version of yourself that has become more your norm and quite honestly, more acceptable to family and friends? As doctor Phil says, “How is that working out for you?
As I have grown in my own journey, I have come to understand that living anything less than my authentic self compares to making a choice to deliberately wear shoes that are one size too small. I will be always uncomfortable, uneasy, irritable, lacking confidence, doubting my decisions, feeling awkward, and ultimately in some sort of pain that seems to linger on. I get it, been there and have lived the life of someone other than myself for many years, and for a diverse set of reasons, but no matter how good it seemed to look or feel on the outside, ultimately I was making the choice to die inside. A slow death that squelched every part of my self-respect and esteem.
There I was smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside. And I knew the reasons, but lacked the courage to do anything about it, until one day I faced my fears after a harsh breakup.
I learned that brokenness is not necessarily a bad thing. Although it feels terrible, it was the process of putting things back together where I learned some of those pieces were no longer relevant in my life or never belonged in the first place. Other parts I discovered were closed off and dormant with a purpose. A purpose that relegated me to silence, doubt and living comfortably in the shadows of life.
So my decision to open those dormant parts were akin to a flower blooming for the first time. My life has never been the same and I continue to press towards higher heights and deeper depths.
How about you? What are you holding back? What are you shielding? Are you letting your flower bloom? The world is awaiting its beauty and aroma.
”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?
“Some people are so broken, they get mad at you for being whole” – Unknown
How many things can you look back on in your life and get angry or sad? You know, the missed opportunities and poor decisions that took you way off the mark, or perhaps it was indecisiveness or procrastination that seemingly held you hostage from your ideal paths and goals.
To be more specific, how about a relationship that went sour after years of your time, investment and commitment, only to see your life partner walk away. Or perhaps you were the one to leave the relationship to try to salvage any dignity that remained in you, after realizing you had been betrayed by the one who claimed to love you with all their heart and soul. Or like the old cliché, you grew a part and found yourself more empty being together than you did alone.
There is no question that we can all fill in the blanks with a laundry list of disappointments that have filled our lives over the years. Perhaps some were avoidable, while others required a bit more maturity that you simply did not have at your disposal at the time. So you made your choices with what you knew and understood, and whether wrong, right or indifferent those decisions currently shape the world you live in today.
Seeing that I can relate to all the above and more, I have learned it is what we do during calamity that defines us, and how we respond cannot be mistaken and is seldom debatable. This defining moment reaches to the fabric of our being and is a great opportunity to expose our true hearts, intentions and motivations. Very rarely is it a feel good session for the one being exposed, even if only to one’s self.
So what do you find ourselves doing after the dust has settled, your separate lives have went on, and the emotional distress of the moment has long faded away? Have you become bitter, distrustful and suspicious of all those that merely represent the one(s) who hurt you, or are you learning to grow, embrace truth and live a new and better life?
I wish it were as simple as typing these words down, but unfortunately it is much more difficult and complex than that. And in many instances it requires support from outside sources, uncomfortable transparency and a decision to live a different kind of life. One that allows time for introspection, reflection, meditation, submission, prayer and self-analysis. All things that cause us to slow down, to allow us at some point to go fast, however with much more wisdom, empathy and integrity.
It is indeed the journey of life, for those that choose to go down that path. A journey that will not only enrich our own lives, but the lives we touch as well. The hardships of our past can become lessons we share with others that choose to listen. Our growth will teach us to no longer exude energy on what we cannot change, or the people who remain angry and point fingers at us. Our focus is only on what lies before us. Our past pains will remind us of what can potentially happen, however our new identity sees past the negative images and helps us to navigate towards what is better and full of life.
So if you are still looking back on your life and becoming disheartened when you do, don’t you think it is time to embrace a new way? Life is truly too short to remain mad, hurt and perpetually disappointed, however it is never too late to make a new declaration. A declaration that opens the door to peace, hope and joy.
“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.
“Be brave enough to have a conversation that matters.” – Dau Voire
Communication is the means to exchange information, whether personal, business related, relevant, irrelevant, good news or bad. Somehow and someway we all need to have a conversation with another at some point to simply talk about things. The subject matter usually ties directly to our own emotions and thoughts towards having that talk. The, “I can’t wait to talk to you” conversations are typically easy and will bring someone joy or encouragement. The ones we attempt to avoid, or procrastinate to have are the ones that won’t necessarily place a smile on the face of the recipient. The idea of that talk brings us angst and produces feelings of restlessness, but can be equally life-changing, crucial to all parties involved, and usually essential to living an emotional healthy life.
Although I am not qualified to explain how avoiding a crucial conversation affects us medically, I do know how it makes me feel. It’s as if I begin to live a life of duplicity. There is the man that everyone seemingly knows and interacts with everyday, and then there is that guy smiling to the world but internally struggling with one or several people on some particular issue that he just cannot seem to shake.
Even as we seek and receive good advice from friends or counselors and have great discussions that make us feel better, this is still not an antidote to having that talk yourself. Waiting only produces more angst and makes it harder.
Many times we are waiting for the perfect moment that will probably never arrive. We even convince ourselves it will be better delivered in a certain way and at a specific time. The problem is deep down we realize this is an excuse we use to gain more time, because after all we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Well have you thought about your own feelings and where they fit in the big scheme of things? While you are trying to protect someone else from being hurt or becoming angry with you, those same emotions begin to negatively impact you, due to lack of release. I believe it is a great characteristic to not take joy in the demise of another or celebrate the pain someone else is experiencing, and the fact that most people who tend to have a difficult time engaging in “that talk” feel this way, are usually the best at delivering the difficult message, simply because of their intent, which is never to hurt anyone.
So whether you have been contemplating on how to engage in a difficult situation at work, having a dialogue with your spouse about something you have been withdrawing from, or speak to your best friend about something that has bothered you for years. There is no better time like now to start the conversation.
What has helped me during these often stressful moments is to comprise the talk with several short conversations. The situation did not develop overnight, so it will not be solved that way either. Do not seek to fix it with one talk, instead take it in small bites and deliver the message with honesty, courage, integrity and compassion.
If necessary write your points on paper and address them specifically, one by one. This tends to be my approach, because its easy for me to lose my train of thought in the heat of the moment due to the potential emotional duress the conversation brings me in the first place.
Of course we are all different. Some folks can deliver a hard conversation like deliberately dropping a microphone on a stage, walking away, without ever looking back. I am not that guy and probably never will be, so my process will look different and perhaps even weak to some, but it is nonetheless my process.
At the end of the day, respect for others, dignity towards the people I claim to care about and living by the golden rule matters more to me. Even with those that deserve less, I still give it, and you should attempt to do the same. Just not at your expense and suffering.
So have that talk, make it plain, make it true and be direct. You will feel much better in the long run, if not immediately. Your honesty can only be respected, even if it takes years for the recipients to fully understand and connect with your words and motivations.
“The struggle is a part of the story” – Unknown
Sometimes I ask…
Who knows you, past the simple perfections that you portray to the world daily? Who knows the angst you fell asleep with last night, that still remains with you this morning? Who knows you past the superficial smile you greet the world with everyday, yet inside you are longing to be held, understood and accepted? Who knows what you truly feel about the world, when the music stops and the friends head home? Who knows that you cry when you are alone, for reasons that you cannot even articulate yet?
Sometimes I wonder…
Does anyone really care about I feel, like really care? Why is it so hard to engage people about real life stuff? Perhaps I know deep down, they really don’t care enough to do anything even if they did know. Would my life be different, if I had decided to take that right versus the left that I now question? Is happiness overrated, or am I pursuing the wrong dreams? Is my heart really in this thing, or am I fooling myself as well? Is all the effort and late night talks really worth it, or am I simply wasting my time? Is it only me that thinks this way? Is this just me doing that over thinking again, or am I really scared where my life is right now?
I have learned that if your are not taking the time to occasionally take an inventory of your own life and all of its complexities, you will eventually hit a wall, become overwhelmed or lose sight of what you are doing and why you initially began. Whether you are fully engulfed in a career pursuit, just beginning with a college dream, or pursing love with that signficant other, we must ask ourselves questions that provoke thought, challenge our borders and cause us to pause and think deeply about what we are doing and where we are headed.
Sometimes it’s not enough to reflect in a silo, although it may be safer and feel better, but occasionally we need to deliberately place ourselves in an unsafe zone and allow discomfort to happen. This is the place where you allow that close friend, spouse or counselor to have their way with you, so to speak. Give them license to dispense some raw truth into your heart and mind, and be prepared to listen and accept it, even if you ultimately decide to go a different direction.
This is more than simply seeking advice. At its core, it is becoming fully transparent and fully vulnerable. A scary concept for most of us, however imperative for growth, transformation and the ability to authentically connect and holistically love. If you could imagine that one can only love and connect as deep as they are willing to be vulnerable, what would that look like in your life? If that were the measuring stick for your current relationships and life pursuits, how deep or shallow would they be? And more importantly, how satisfied are you currently with them in that state?
Life is amazing and equally difficult, complex and downright hard at times. We struggle everyday, like a broken car on the side of the road. We can all stand a helping hand at some given point, but in order for that hand to enter our lives, we must make it known that we have a need. It’s not to say we should wear a sign that signifies our needs, but someone must know us as well as our struggles in order to get through them. Who is that one for you? That one that you have allowed into that deep place. You know, that place you rarely go yourself?
At the end of here day, I want to love hard, work hard and play hard. Not just to say that I did, but to know that I lived my life in such a way that transcended my ego, my fears, my traditions and embraced my faith, my heart and my hope to be loved and understood in a meaningful way, not just past my struggles, best because of them.
I want to say this…
You know my struggles, therefore you know me, because I chose you. Not because you were safe, quite the contrary actually. You scared the living daylight out of me, but I knew I wanted you to know me, feel me and deeply connect with me. So you didn’t start by asking me a list of questions, you simply shared your own intimate life and made it okay for me to share my own. Thank you for saying yes and being more than my friend, but a light into my preferred future.
Sometimes I ask and sometimes I wonder, but I am grateful for you because the questions ultimately reveal their own answers as I live, love and remain hopeful. You know my struggle…