“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.
”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.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – J.K. Rowling
We all know that talk is cheap, and at the end of the day the words that we profess need to be supported by some type of action. Without that action, the words fall to the ground unfruitful. I also believe we know and understand that it is probably better to say nothing than to make promises we have no way to make real. But why do so many still choose to live their lives this way?
You know the ones that say a whole lot, have great intentions, yet zero follow through, especially when it can mean the most to a situation or individual. Now I consider myself a person who believes most people want to do the right thing and will honor their commitments, however I equally understand that many still will not, for whatever reason. And when I began to live my life with this understanding, I was able to release those that could break me, before they actually could.
Of course none of us can always get this right, but the more I am honest with myself and choose to listen to that gut instinct inside, I recognize who I am truly dealing with, I mean like who just showed up (at my figurative door) to engage with me, have that heart to heart talk or make peace with our past or present. I quickly realize whether they are making a conscientious choice to be truly transparent with me or if they are still simply pretending to be.
I have also learned that it is not my responsibility fix them, force them to be honest (even with themselves) or plead with them about their inability to be truthful. I can only deal with who showed up, not who I would have preferred to show up, because at the end of the day that is the truth I must accept and choose to deal with or not.
It is never our responsibility to change anyone. It requires way too much time and energy and it comes with no guarantee that the results will be favorable anyway. The better choice is we must deal with the circumstances as they present themselves and be willing to live in that moment, change ourselves to work with it or leave. Are there really any other options?
Sometimes I think we believe there are other options, (including present company) however after repeatedly hitting my head against walls of frustration believing somehow or someway things would work themselves out or something would change, they did not and I was left with disappointment and resentment, with only myself to blame.
I blamed myself because I was living in the mindset of what it could be, versus what it was. This illusion of what we want versus what we have must come into alignment. This is not to say that one day this ideal state cannot come into fruition, it is just we must acknowledge the reality (however painstaking it may be) of what we currently have.
Although the choice to deal with the issues of our realities may be difficult, this indeed is the journey towards living in truth and purpose. A purpose that has a means to an end because it not only accepts things as they are, but it allows the option of choice to enter in when a violation of one’s own purpose has occurred. We are no longer handicapped by someone else or victim to their own choice to be who they are, yet instead we give ourselves license to live in our own truth with the power to stay, leave or change.
When we fail to show up, whether in a personal or professional relationship, we inevitably limit and obscure our ability to stand for what we believe. We will always find ourselves living under someone else’s ideal of who we are and what we are supposed to become. Our voice is weakened and our disposition in life becomes counterproductive to a cause perhaps we once believed in or lived by.
Showing up is more than just being in the room. It is also more than just being loud, emotional or noticeably passionate. It is about believing is something to your core and taking a stand for it, despite the outcome. It is when we begin to live for things that even the threat of death, shame, embarrassment or ridicule cannot sway us. We have a voice, we have a purpose and we understand our truth and we are finally unapologetic about what it is. We are ready to show up.
“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.
“Life is like a camera… Focus on what’s important, Capture the good times, Develop from the negatives, And if things don’t work out, Take another shot.” – Unknown
Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew that you should step up and do something or say something, only to quickly talk yourself out of it? I imagine it happens to the best of us at any given time, but for some maybe too often. For some it is much easier to remain silent and allow others to voice their opinions while we watch and listen, albeit painfully.
Many years ago this was me to a tee. I always took second fiddle to someone notably (at least what I assumed) smarter and more experienced. I was very comfortable with this approach until I was not, and equally realized it was not furthering my career path or providing me with any notable opportunities.
So after becoming frustrated with my own ineptness and lack of drive, I decided to change things. I first thought about the years I already had. At that time I was about ten years into my career and felt as if I knew a few things that were worthy of advancement and opportunity. Only problem, no one else knew. It was the perfect secret I had kept to myself for years, until one day I heard a voice deep within that said, “It is time to step up and no longer be silent.” Immediately I knew what the words meant and how I needed to apply them.
At that time there was so specific opportunity or profound job to speak of, but I held on to those words regardless. Ultimately it would be those words that literally changed the path of my career.
Sometimes what we hear today is not for now, but for what is to come.
I literally had no idea what was to come, but I knew what I heard and I was going to hold on to that instruction no matter what. Eventually (about 2 years later) an opportunity presented itself for me to apply the words, and I did. The rest is truly history. Today I sit at the highest position I can hold in my particular line of work, but I still hold true to those words as if I have more to accomplish, because I do.
Just last week I had the opportunity to present to my executive committee. It was an event I did not initially sign up for, but after careful review of what was going to be discussed I realized that I needed to be there, because it was a topic that I am very passionate about, and have experienced good success with. So I got in touch with my direct team and asked if they would mind if I tagged along with them. They agreed and I was off to our corporate offices. The old me would have settled for someone else delivering the message.
Needless to say, the presentation went extremely well and our team received rave reviews. It left me feeling humble, grateful but most importantly thankful. Thankful for listening to that small still voice inside on a crowded train one day almost 20 years ago.
How about you? What “thing(s)” have you not yet accomplished that you know is a part of your calling or purpose on earth? What still prevents you from pressing towards it? Could it be gender, race, religion, divorce, education, a criminal past, doubt, fear or an unbelief in yourself? The list could be endless, however it does not have to be what continues to stifle you or cause you to shrink back.
One day several years ago, I had to realize that I (Henry Nutt, III) was more than his past, no matter what anyone else had to say. My poor choices, two divorces, color of skin or lack of confidence would not be able to stop me. Matter of fact once I realized that the only person that could stop me was myself, I begin to break free of the bondage I had placed on my ability to make progress.
I removed the naysayers from my life and replaced them with people who believed in me (there weren’t many, but enough). I read great books, and put into practice what I learned.
Today, I am nowhere near where I want to be, but certainly far removed from where I once was. My life has purpose and I continue to cultivate and nurture that purpose with attributes that foster hope, community and love.
So, no matter where you are in this journey called life, it is never too late to start over, regroup or find a new path. We only need the will to do it, and begin again or for the first time.
“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” – Steve Prefontaine
I have never met anyone who does not appreciate receiving a gift, whether a small token of appreciation or something grand. When we take the time to acknowledge someone for anything, whether small or large it usually speaks volumes to their souls.
I have always tried to teach my children that being thoughtful with what one has will always be greater than trying to buy what one cannot afford. That said, I have taught them to not worry about buying me a gift (when they were younger) for my birthday, but instead make me a card or do something thoughtful (to me) that cost them only their time.
We live in such a fast-paced world where sending flowers or any type of gift is just a click away, and although I appreciate a nice surprise in the mail, nothing will ever replace the intangible gifts that come along with human interaction and connection.
Because we yearn so much for human connection, even receiving the best gift will be meaningless without the essential act of being thoughtful, concerned or showing love, so if and when you deliver that awesome gift to a friend or loved one, make sure a bit of your personal touch is a part of the exchange.
As we grow older, wiser and more settled with our lives, we begin to realize that the most important gifts are the ones that cannot be purchased. The intimate conversations amongst friends and family are surely to be coveted, and often come far and few between, but nonetheless when they come they bring so much of what we long for and need.
I can recall sitting with someone who I hardly knew a couple of years back at a family function. Somehow we sat next to one another and begin to dialogue about life and the people around us. Not only was it easy to share, but we both found ourselves being transparent and honest about very personal issues we were facing in our lives at that time. There was no judgment or angst about diving head first into the various subjects. Just two people sharing a moment in time that proved to be helpful and rewarding for us both.
When I think of someone giving away a gift, it is those types of moments that come to mind. It is those types of moments that bring on life change, impart heartfelt truths and have the potential to leave an imprint on our minds that can carry on for years. I suppose it is the type of gift that keeps on giving, at least for someone like me.
What gifts have you given away lately? The ones you cannot purchase online or in a store. The ones that may require your time, undivided attention and ability to really listen. For some this may not even seem like a gift, but I can say with some certainty that the ones receiving it will, and their lives will be better for it.
I have been blessed to have wonderful friends and family that share the truth, in love. As they do this, they give away something meaningful to me each time. Something that I can hold onto, something that is timeless, and more often than not something that fills a void and answers a deep question within.
These are the types of gifts that my heart longs for, more than anything other kind. They are refreshing, renewing and quenches the thirst of my soul.
For some, the idea of giving gifts this way will draw a blank stare or create confusion, but for those of you that get it, you know what I am talking about. I encourage you to continue giving your best gift away. The world is a better place because of you and life simply is no fun when the givers stop giving.
Of course always do it with wisdom and without obligation, but more importantly do it with and in love. That is your best gift!
“When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.” – Nelson Mandela
We have all said it at some point in our lives to loved ones, close friends and even ourselves when times are tough. “Things will get better with time.” The phrase does sound good and lends itself to even seem comforting when we are hurting, but do things really get better with time? I suppose on the surface, the answer is an absolute yes. Over time it is true we do tend to feel less of the sting pain indiscriminately doles out, whether physical or emotional, but does feeling better really mean we are better? Hmmm… one of those questions to ponder I suppose.
The body is an amazing creation. The fact that when we injure ourselves the body is designed to go into healing mode. Over a course of weeks, months and therapy (depending on the severity of the injury) besides a scar, there is no noticeable evidence of an injury at all. Now we all know that it was not the time that healed that would, but the amazing work occurring on the inside of the body to mend things back together.
The same is true when we are injured emotionally. If someone hurts us in a relationship and we do nothing to understand the core issue(s), we are destined to repeat the circumstance with someone else. For some of us (including present company) this has been an all too common occurrence.
Simply taking a hiatus from dating is not enough to thwart the problem (if dating is your issue) if we do not add the parts that identify the core problem, work through it and apply the learned principles to prevent it from happening with the next guy or gal.
There are so many websites dedicated to discussions on cheaters and liars, and although some have valid points to make, many others simply use the platform to complain and bash the opposite sex, but seldomly look at the work required for prevention or the responsibility they had in the demise of the relationship as well.
It will always be easier to blame another individual, especially when they created the majority of the issue, but what about that small percentage owned by the other person? Does it present a pattern? Have you been here before? Same situation different person? Could you be the common denominator? Again, something too think about.
When we fail to allow ourselves to authentically heal over a period of time, which includes doing the work necessary to become whole how is it possible to think we would make a better decision the next time? How is it that our anger simply becomes directed towards a gender, personality type or ethnicity, versus ourselves? Could it be that we are still carrying baggage from our past that is destined to bring extra weight and turmoil to our next relationship or circumstance? Could it be that time did nothing but give us an illusion that we were better, but in essence we were just numb? And the only way we really know we have not healed is when a circumstance presents itself that reminds us of our brokenness, and we flash on someone or become instantly disengaged. Been there?
In essence, time heals a wound like a bandage heals a cut. It will never be about the time directly, but more importantly what we choose to do in that time. So my prayer is that we choose to recognize the patterns that hinder us, (different face same guy) do the work to change and grow and apply the lessons learned to live a healthier life.
For most of my life I have bought into this relationship between time and healing, but I have always questioned the core idea. I would assume most professionals would agree more than time is required to heal wounds, but somewhere along the way of this commonly used phrase, the translation became lost or diluted with the masses and it simply continues to get passed along like it is a scientific fact. Or perhaps this is simply a part of my perfectionist personality to address it. Either way, I believe it is important that we understand what is implied when we make this statement or any commonly use saying that solicits hope, when it fact it may actually perpetuate the contrary.
To all those finally acknowledging your part in your healing or lack thereof, welcome to the club. There truly is an upside to being down, but we must first recognize the pain and do the right things with it. Numbing it feels great for a short season, but it truly never simply goes away and it will most certainly come back to remind you, “I am still here until you deal with me.”
Neither your age, a new relationship or a geographic relocation will change that fact, because the pain lies within you lying dormant until it is once again disturbed, so yes it requires painstaking, emotionally distressful and committed work, but it is worth the blood, sweat and tears. You are worth it!
“When you are willing to feel it, you can begin to heal from it.” – Unknown
I grew up during a time when the neighborhood kids played hard everyday and usually always until dusk or when the street lights came on. Being a young boy there were plenty of bumps and bruises to go around. On several occasions I found myself being rushed to emergency to close up a gash or cut with stitches. As many times that I fell on my head growing up, it was a blessing that I did not suffer any permanent brain damage.
One of my many exploits involved playing on an older abandoned car. Somehow I fell off the car and right into the corner of brick head first. I remember placing my hands over the open wound and walking to the front door to tell my mother. As soon as I got to the door I removed my then blood-filled hands away from my head and immediately began to scream along with my sisters. By my reaction you would have thought I was going to die, but several hours later, with about six to eight stitches, some ice cream and a few balloons I was all back to normal somewhat.
The human body is an amazing creation. The ability it has to heal itself is truly a wonder and an amazing testimony to God’s grace and mercy. A little ointment, some medicine or a few band aids and we are all good.
Unfortunately this proven cure-all does not apply to emotional or psychological wounds. Often these types of wounds are easier to mask therefore they go untreated for years or even decades if ever even identified. We can numb the pain we feel inside with substances designed to calm us, inebriate, or completely remove us from the realities of our pain. As much as this choice does nothing to help us get better, we must admit it certainly helps us to feel good in the moment, but at some point these potentially detrimental choices can begin to erode any goodness that remains in our lives.
Whether that goodness comes in the form of a great career, a healthy relationship or our respected positions in society, ultimately our inability or unwillingness to address the wounds can have lifelong impacts that not only affect us, but potentially generations of our families, friends and communities.
Although I am not one to judge anyone for where they are in life, I have learned through my own personal experience that one of the greatest enemies to healing is pride. No one could ever deny a physical wound or resist surrendering to the obvious treatment they need to recover, but an emotional wound can be hidden as I mentioned earlier for years. Unfortunately at some point the only person hiding from the wound is the one suffering from it.
The by-product of the wounds manifest themselves is very specific ways and usually have patterns that become obvious, and although no one may have diagnosed us or is qualified to do so, people eventually become aware there is something just not right.
Some of those wounds manifest themselves as angry uncontrollable outburst, over eating, abstaining from food, physical or emotional abuse toward others, isolation from society, an inability to maintain a healthy relationship and so many other things that simply get in the way of living a prosperous and healthy life.
No one sets out to purposely live this way, but it happens everyday to millions of people. We live with scars that have never been healed therefore walk through our lives living on egg shells. The slightest things can set us off or send us on a tail spin of despair.
The illusion of a scar is the wound has thoroughly healed. Sometimes this is not the case at all, because underneath the layer of protective skin could be an infection that is spreading throughout our body, and until we uncover it and treat the infection in our physical bodies we will never heal and ultimately die. The same is true with emotional or psychological scars. If we fail to treat the deep-rooted issues that we suffer from, the pain will spread throughout our lives and destroy every part of it.
For years I tried to make other people happy at the expense of my own joy, and for years it seemed to work, but at some point I became weary, resentful and angry. During that time I was not sure if I was angry with those I endlessly sacrificed for, or if the anger was with myself. After some introspection (but unfortunately not enough) I came to the conclusion that I was angry with what others did to me. I mean after all, “it was their fault because they were all selfish people who simply took advantage of a nice guy”, I use to think .
How wrong I was! My decision to give tirelessly was no one’ s fault but my own, and what I needed to recognize was why I chose to live my life in this way. Who was I actually trying to please or gain approval from? There lied the keys to the core of my issue. My desire to please others resulted from a childhood issue with my own father. For years I sought for his approval and in my own mind I never received it, so I went on a mission to make anyone that I could happy. The problem is it never seemed to fill the holes in my heart. No matter how much I gave, I was still that much more empty.
The wound grew deeper and my effort to gain comfort grew with it, until I had no more to give. That is until I arrived at a place where I became empty, numb and isolated. It was a part of the dynamic that led to my multiple divorces and ability to abruptly shut down. I went from one extreme to the other and for a time I felt justified and as if I was finally doing the right thing for myself. After all it was time for me. “I did enough for everyone else”, I thought, but the pain and emptiness was still there.
One thing pain does for certain whether emotional or physical is it brings a wake up call. It will force you to your knees in surrender or have you running to the doctors in seek of some sort of relief. I was there, seeking relief, not a temporary fix, but something authentic and sustaining. No longer did that cure lie in simply making others feel good, but it lied in my own decisions and ability to be okay with them as they were, no matter how others felt about them or if they chose to agree with me or not.
Fast forward several years and I see a man who has a scar, but underneath I am truly healed. The scar will always remind me of where I was and what I am capable of, therefore acts symbolically of my transformation of becoming whole.
No longer do I live a life that seeks to solely please people. I place myself in that formula now and realize, “I am important and worthy enough to be first and I do not have to apologize or feel bad about it anymore.” The hole in my heart regarding this issue has been filled as a result to becoming whole, living my truth and healing from my wounds.
I am enough and so are you, so let’s begin to conduct ourselves as if we whole heartedly believe it.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
For as long as I can remember I have been the type of personality that has tried to avoid conflict. Sometimes this decision worked in my favor, but unfortunately most times it had an adverse effect on my relationships or view of them. And on other occasions it had an impact on the other persons view of me. Well I could plug-in the old adage that I would rather be known as a lover than a fighter to make an excuse, (and it really is true) or use the adage to give me license to take action in a non-actionable manner, if that makes sense. At the end of the day I am still the one left with the bag of goodies created by my own unwillingness to engage (stuff) based on fear, being overly concerned with another’s opinion or simply refusing to exert the necessary energy to fight anymore. There are obviously as many options as there are people along with the endless amount of scenarios that we could find ourselves faced with, but the point I am trying to make is what happens when the arguments stop and more importantly, why do they stop at all?
So perhaps you are one of those many adults that experienced your parents arguing a lot when you were a child. Although I can relate, this is not what I am referring to when I speak of arguing. However, those of us that were exposed to this type of environment tend to either retreat from conflict at all cost or run to it with gloves on. In other words we may be a little out of balance when it comes to engaging or debating during heated conversations, whether we have become overly sensitive due to what we heard for years and how it made us feel or we find ourselves responding to what we believe was unfair treatment, and we make the choice to declare war on anyone that reminds us of how it felt to become the small one during an argument.
I am not here to pass judgement on whichever way you may find yourself going more often than not, but I am here to ask what happens when the argument (within us) stops? Perhaps for now I should use another word for argument, like fighting for what you believe in to make my point clearer.
I can remember one of my first learned lessons about relationships was the differences between love, hate and indifference. I always understood that love was the opposite of hate, but I was reading a book many years ago on relationships and the author depicted a couple that came to him for marital counseling. During the visits there were many heated discussions full of rage and hostility. They kept coming and kept fighting until one day the wife no longer fought. She sat in silence during their sessions. The new behavior bewildered the husband, but the counselor knew all to well what was happening. The wife, let’s call her Janet had become disillusioned and indifferent about their marriage. She was ready to give up and believed her words, energy and effort to fight were no longer a worthy mission.
Something happen to Janet on the inside that so many of us are familiar with. Her willingness to fight/argue begin to cease. She became indifferent. I compare it to flying a kite. The kite represents “the relationship, situation or object. The string represents our tie or connection to that relationship, and the hand that holds the string represents our desire to remain connected to it. Love represents a real connection that will inspire us and help us navigate through duress. It will help us remain connected during tough times and see them through, therefore we will hold onto that kite during the storms and windy conditions.
Hate, although on the opposite spectrum can have a similar impact, albeit usually to our detriment if we do not use good judgement. Even when we allegedly hate someone, there is still a very strong connection that keeps us bound to them. Sometimes that is enough to continue to fight through adversity as well. Just having that type of tie can keep us there in the battle at times, however when we become indifferent that is dangerous.
This is when we no longer have any emotion towards the situation or person. We will walk away without anything, even when we deserve more, if that means we can be free from the circumstance. This person has completely let the kite go and does not even look to see it fly away. Anyone been there?
There are obviously an array of circumstances that can bring us to this place and I do not want to over simply anyone’s situation, but it is important that we consider our own state of mind in this regard. Whether you are fighting for a marriage, career, justice or a strong belief in something, it is essential to take a periodic inventory on where you stand on the scale of love, hate or indifference while there is still an opportunity to move in one direction or the other.
When you think about what gets you out of the bed in the morning or what propels you to continue on the battle field for another day, this is “that thing”, “the fight” that is essential to winning, staying the course and holding true during hardships.
Like so many, there are times when I have held on strong and other times I have given up prematurely. Life is like that sometimes, but I have taken note of the signs that come to warn me what state I am in. Signs like:
1. Becoming easily irritated with the person involved or situation.
2. I no longer desire to communicate about the issue or with the person.
3. I distance myself from the person or issue more frequently.
4. The conversations I do have are void of meaningfulness and I seek to escape rather than draw closer.
5. I make assumptions based on my own given facts that may not be necessarily proven.
6. My ideas and thoughts about the circumstance or person become overwhelmingly negative or hopeless.
There are times when walking away will be the best thing for us and other times when we need to continue to stand. It is a matter of knowing the balance, and hopefully we can learn how to effectively navigate ourselves through this when the time present itself.
Even for that select group who sorely dislikes to argue, like me. We will all have those moments where fighting is just the right thing to do. So whether you are fighting for yourself or a worthy cause, stand for what you believe in, with and without words.
An act of defiance may be just what is required to stir things up bit and get things realigned, and perhaps you are the one assigned to the mission.