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Proving Yourself to Other People

LifeFact: If in the course of talking about why you are pursuing something or making a particular decision you find yourself saying “I am going to prove to ____, that I ____,” it is a huge indication that you are not free, your intentions are misguided, and you are too concerned about what other people think. Trust me, I have been there; OK, I am there more often than I should be.

Often times, this thought is not something that is articulated to others, but rather it is whispered in our minds. Typically, it is because we don’t want to admit that we are still holding on to the hurt of what someone thought or did (or didn’t do) to/for us a long time ago. In reality, we shouldn’t try to consciously or subconsciously “prove” anything to anyone; not an arch nemesis, not a parent, not a former friend, boss, or ex. The only person we should seek to prove anything to is ourselves. Then again, if we really believed our true worth would we even be worried about what can or cannot be proven to someone else?

Instead of worrying about what other people think about you and what you need to “prove” to someone else, focus on strengthening how you see yourself. Look in the mirror and tell me what you see. Ready? Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the finest of them all? If your answer is not “me” (meaning you) then Houston, we have a problem. Look again and see your own greatness — which is the only thing you should start believing in for YOU, not someone else.

What are some things that you do to overcome the temptation to “prove” your worth, intelligence, beauty, strength, or success to other people?

Photo Credit: Walter Watzpatzkowski @ https://flic.kr/p/7bwDnt

Dealing with Crappy and Sh*tty Stuff

I was talking to my cousin the other day about some shitty things that have been happening in my life lately. Well, it’s more like crappy things happening to someone else that in turn affected me. I guess this area of my life has just been somewhat of an adventurous ride recently. Naturally at this point I feel the need to say that by no means is it the end of the world or a life-shattering development, but it still has the slight smell of crap (and what others might call “shit.”) But, I digress. After discussing my anticipated responses to the situation, the therapist in her pointed out that the positivity current moving through my mind was something to be proud of. I was a little surprised by her response because despite seeing myself as a positive person I know there are many people out there more positive than even me. Yes, I made the cardinal mistake of comparing my crappy situation and reaction to other people and I minimized my feelings to the too often heard phrase “someone always has it worse.” Nonetheless, I took the compliment and listened.

“Not everyone knows how to see their way out of a situation,” she said. She continued to remind me that too often people become overwhelmed by the moment as if given situations are the end of the world. As she spoke I couldn’t help but think about all the times that I too have been in those situations. I recalled all the times when I felt overwhelmed by the ignorance of tomorrow all complicated by the “what the heck am I going to do” thoughts. I also imagined all the moments in the future that I might be guilty of thinking that circumstances are the end of the world. However, as she spoke I realized the reason I was able to change my thinking from overwhelming and paralyzing to hopefully and positive. The answer: I had the privilege of living through enough tough moments to notice that they never actually were the end of the world. Guys, in some way “time” does have a slightly healing quality to it. If we allow ourselves to learn and mature in and from situations, wounds/pain are eased/healed in time, forgiveness is given in time, solutions are found in time, true love is discovered in time, and stability/success is found in time. Inevitably I will continue to have crappy moments in my life, but as I get older I have discovered that I don’t have to let my life become crap because of one crappy moment… or two…or three. Life is too short.

Another perspective I have tried to adopt during crappy times is the thought that maybe God is testing me. I always think that life is trying to see if I have learned anything in the time that I have been alive. Ok, this might be a weird collision of my belief in God and the teacher inside me, but I really do believe that something-someone out there is watching to see how we respond to “situations.” How else might you explain the fact that typically positive people go much further in life than negative thinkers? There is definitely something to be noted about the perseverance and success of people who find the positive in any given situation (even if they have to dig down deep to find it). For me, one word separates the times in which I am more positive from the times in which I am more negative — faith. Most people associate faith with God (which I personally do), but being hopeful doesn’t necessarily have to be that deep. Listen, I still doubt, question, get depressed, and discouraged about crappy situation, but I always try to conclude my personal pity-party with positivity and hope. I figure if this is a life test to see if I am capable of handling more success or more challenging portions of life I had better try to pass it by rolling with the punches, cleaning off the crap, and adjusting for the next move.

I remember reading about this man named Job in the Bible when I was younger. His life was utterly destroyed. Although he was a worthy man, he still experienced the loss of almost everything. Oddly enough the people around him were trying to get him to blame God and denounce his faith. He did end up crying and mourning his loss, but ultimately he never gave up his faith. I don’t know why but that story always stuck with me. Maybe it is because it seems bad things often happen to good people in this world. After hearing this story numerous times, I still had one question. Would denouncing his faith have saved him from having to experience negative things in the future? Personally, I don’t think so; I think he would have had to deal with both the good and the bad at some other point in his life.That’s life.

Ultimately, when I look around me I see both people who believe that life will get better and those that believe life will always SUCK. In the end, crappy things do happen to everyone. Maybe I am delusional but having the belief that there is always some light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can’t see it in the moment, somehow helps me eventually get through crappy times. If I didn’t think this way, I don’t know how I would handle life. I mean really; even watching the news for 3 minutes is enough to make someone transition from happy to crappy to hopeless. The good news is that for most crappy situations I have experienced thus far,  I can definitely say that there has always been a lesson, a blessing, or something greater on the the other side…. in time of course.

So, what tips do you have for getting through crappy times?

Rain

Life Question: Why Do We Complain So Much?

Why do we complain so much? Are we really that unhappy or void of positivity? Or is life really that bad?

Ah, this question really takes the cake. As one who has a moderate level of the secret complainers gene, I should probably have a more introspective answer to this question. I do not openly complain when I am in a situation where I feel that people will not be able to relate to my frustrations, but in my mind is another story. I mean really, who wants to come off like a negative person? Not me; society hates that. Nonetheless, I mostly find myself complaining about work and my frustrations with it, and since work consumes so much of my time (part of what I complain about) I find myself constantly trying to kick myself in the brain. “I am so sick of…” Wait, at least you have a job. “They are so incompetent.” Wait, be nice. “I am just always tired and I never have enough time [or money] to…” Stop it. Go to bed earlier and hush because someone has it far worse.This all happens in my mind, and occasionally (or very often, sorry love) to my darling who I know will listen to my non-sense. Truthfully, I do not have much to complain about; I have a happy life with great friends and loved ones to spend it with.

But what is it that makes our minds drift away to negativity land when we are often surrounded by more pros than cons? I don’t know, but I have some clues about the factors that might play a role. Here are some questions to consider if you are a complainer:

Are you unhappy with yourself and where you are in life but are too afraid to change it?

Do you just want attention?

Are you just complaining because it’s your way of fitting in?

Are you subconsciously reaching out for help and advice?

Do you feel you have to complain because “some things are just too good to be true?”

Do you complain because you don’t want people to dislike you and say/think things like “you are always happy”, “your life is so perfect,” or “you think are better than me” (which is nothing more than projection of their issues onto you)?

Are you scapegoating? Are you the problem but are too weak to admit it and instead complain about everyone else?

Or finally, is it really that bad and it is time for you to change the situation?

As I write this post I am thinking, “uggghh, I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow because…” So you see, I am a work in progress too.

Most of us complain at some point or another, but I have noticed a major difference between those that complain and those that rarely ever do– locus of control. Locus of control deals with the degree to which a person feels they have control over the events in their life. A person with an internal locus of control believes that they are the greatest controlling factor over their life’s results and a person with an external locus of control believes that outside forces are responsible for the outcomes of their life. Those who complain more have an external locus of control and take less responsibility for the power and control they have to change the situation. Which one are you? Usually for me, I find that I complain more when I am allowing fear, doubt, or the security of familiarity and comfort zones to dominate my better judgement and my faith. In those instances, it is easier to complain about the situation and people than to do the hard work or make the difficult decision to change what I am complaining about. It might be a relationship, job, politics, social norm, or the weather, but how much you complain reveals whether you are taking control of your own happiness.

Try to start minimizing how much you intentionally or unintentionally complain. It may take small steps, but it is time to conquer the beast. Oh, and complaining about the weather counts; so stop it.

What do you think? Why do we complain so much?

 

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In Their Eyes

We look. We judge.

Most of the time, this is usually what happens: we observe another person’s behavior(s) over a period of time, or at times instantaneously, and make judgements about their character and their personality. It seems like the normal thing to do. Why not? Like momma, granddad, every talk show on TV, and probably even the Pope has said, “actions speak louder than words.” If this statement is true, then why should we not use someone’s actions to judge them? Fact: Reading someone’s behaviors can inform us of when to run, stay, love, engage, isolate, trust, disbelieve, fight, and break away.  So when “actions” don’t line up with “words,” we immediately know that something is off, not right, or troublesome.

Actions tell the truth where sometimes words tell a tale, and in most situations, action-based judgements yield an accurate picture of the truth. However, no matter how much we observe and judge someone, we should not make the mistake of assuming we have figured them out. To figure them out would require us to understand all their experiences, how they interpreted those experiences, and how their perception of the world has been molded by those experiences. We may know a person’s behavior, but it takes much more to know their heart, their struggle, their pain. In their eyes may lie images of violence, loss, pain, hurt, trauma, deception, or even joy, happiness, love, and success. Where you see hope, they may see loss; where you see happiness, they may see hopelessness; where they see negativity, you may see positive possibilities. You probably just don’t know what they “see” and it’s probably none of your business.

I can continue saying “you” and “they,” but the truth is we have all been there. At one time or another, we have all had the feeling that someone “doesn’t understand” or that “they just have no idea” how we feel or what we are dealing with behind a smile, a frown, a laugh, or even silence. Truth is we may never completely understand why someone behaves the way they do, nor will we always understand what others really think and feel. There is always more to the story — more layers, more levels, more left lingering. People are intriguing and when I think about other people, I always wonder what’s in their eyes. What past images and experiences have contributed to their view of the world? What do they see in themselves when they look in the mirror? What have they experienced throughout their life that has brought them joy, but also disappointment? What did they have to overcome? And then I wonder, how alike and similar are we to those we judge and condemn? Or in some cases, how much worse are we than those we judge?

Should we judge? Yes. Sometimes judgements keep us out of trouble, away from danger, and free from the wrong people and poor decisions. I am not disregarding the kind of necessary judgement we need to discern when to escape dangerous, harmful, hurtful people and situations. In this case I am talking about the voluntary judgements we make about other people because we are really unhappy, bored, jealous, or insecure with ourselves. The next question is, why do we feel compelled to unnecessarily judge other people? What is it about our society that makes us more willing to point the finger than to see someone else succeed? Why will miserable people do everything in their power to sabotage everyone’s happiness? In the world of social media, why do people feel like they can sit behind a computer and completely degrade and torture people with their negativity? Why do we put celebrities on a pedestal just to pick them apart piece by piece as if their status or salary no longer makes them human? Who gave us the power to be the judge and jury when it comes to other people’s lives?

I have no answers, only empathy for those that we unnecessarily judge and powerlessly condemn. I don’t know when the human judging instinct turned into an emotional cannibalism. What I do know is this– even if we talk to a person regularly and observe his/her behavior on many different occasion, we might still never be able to see what’s in their eyes.

Stuart Scott

Lesson from Stuart Scott: Live.

I am not going to lie. My first reaction to Stuart Scott’s passing was “he didn’t deserve to die.” I didn’t venture far enough to blame God, but I was initially baffled. “But he fought so hard with such fortitude and faith, if anyone deserved to beat cancer didn’t he?” I thought about his ESPN ESPY Award acceptance speech and the two beautiful daughters that he leaves behind. It would have made the ultimate fairytale story – father beats cancer three times to live to hear his grandchildren say “Boo-yah” (one of this infamous commentating expressions). For me, it called human mortality into question: What’s the rhyme and reason to all of this anyway? How and whom decides who lives and who dies? In the first minute after hearing of the passing of someone that appears so full of faith, so full of life, so full of legacy, promise, and love, all of these thoughts went through my mind.

Then, in the next minute I started reflecting on the graceful way that Stuart lived after his cancer diagnosis. I thought about how he kept exercising, working, loving, traveling in a time in which I probably would have been on my knees begging for life, mercy, and healing from God. Or, I would have been in total denial about death and probably became some radical zealot that spent my entire waking time believing that God had already healed me. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have handled it like that, but I am not sure I would have been as strong as Stuart; I want to believe I am that strong, but I really don’t know how I would handle being faced with death in that manner.

Then in the third minute, it suddenly all made sense. The feeling of defeat went away and I started to feel a sense of victory and honor. It was exactly what Stuart said: “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell.” Yes Stuart! You freaking lived man. You WON. Period. End of story. Guys, he won! Despite the trials of life (in his case, cancer), his outlook remained one in which he used every last moment to live, love, laugh, learn, and leave a legacy! What an honor. How many people can say that they made a positive difference in this world? How many people can say that their legacy is meaningful? I don’t know about you, but that’s something I think about sometimes – what will my legacy be when I die? Will I have touched people’s lives in a meaningful way? Will I have accomplished what I was created to do? I am not God, so I cannot judge how Stuart lived or if he fulfilled his purpose, but goodness gracious he sure set the bar high!

In my mind he died too young (age 49). I still have that underlying belief that people are supposed to live to see old age. However within that I ask, what is life if we live to be old and still accomplish nothing or very little? I am not sure but I still desire to live to be very old. Despite it all, death never seemed fair to me, yet the more I live and grow is the more I see that death is actually one of the only fair parts about life. Everyone dies. Everyone. The rich, poor, kind, mean, healthy and diseased, we all have a moment waiting when we will pass on. Yes, “pass on” because “death” seems too harsh, too finite. Since we probably live a life after earth (my hope), then death is just passing to another world where our loved ones are waiting to say “what the heck took you so long? It’s freaking awesome over here.”

I am not happy that Stuart’s journey on earth has ended, but I am happy that he lived such an amazing life. As of this point in my life, I cannot say that I understand the concept of life and death. If lacking the full comprehension of such a simple matter is not confusing enough, losing three students within the last year to tragic accidents (as recent as four days ago) has left me even more stunned about death. I am quite certain that if I were to ask each of those students how long they thought they might live, they would have said pass the age of 18 or 30 years old. After these losses, I have pondered a new question — for which I do not have the complete answer — what is more important, the quality of life or the quantity of life? I do not know, however, I believe that the two ideas are not completely separable.

In it all, there is one thing I know: how we live seems to be central to the concept of a fulfilled life. If we can make each moment matter and find meaning in each moment — even the good and the bad are lessons that lead us toward mastering and conquering life — maybe we too can win. Still alive? Then there is still time to live the life you were created to live. Haven’t been living? Then there’s no better time than the present, right?  In the words of Stuart Scott, “have a great rest of your night and have a great rest of your life.” In my words, Stuart Scott, I think you might have just beat the game of life without a game guide or a cheat code. This is what I call “Life Me.”