If you've been following my journey to this point, you already know I grew up a fairly troubled kid. Not so much in the sense I was disruptive to others, but more so a disruption to myself (who knows, I probably disrupted plenty of people — just way too in my head to notice). Life was merely something to bear; not to actualize or truly experience to its fringe.
Your life is worth far more than simply a distinction of how much money you make, what type of work you do, or whether or not you have a significant other. These are simply the boxes that all of us use to make basic sense of something we couldn’t possibly understand the depth of: another person’s essence.
Emotions come on like a lightswitch — everything’s fine, until it’s not. Nowadays, the blurring of emotions and real life is the cause of many relationships falling apart, with one or more parties quickly opting to “cut the other person off”. Scroll through Instagram or Facebook for a minute or two and you’re bound to scan over a post related to this behavior, as getting rid of “toxic” people is applauded throughout mainstream society.
Now more than ever, exists an irrepressible level of social pressure to “live your best life”. Standard operating procedure suggests you spend money on experiences and not things, worry less and travel more, hang out with people whose emotional coffee cup is cascading with happiness, be bold as shit, and take lots and lots of pictures.
I lost my humility. After nine months of painstakingly working to strip away every protective layer in which masked my essence, I thought I had reached the pinnacle. I was confident I had surmounted my own ignorance, hellbent on interrupting the negative patterns I became aware of with headstrong discipline. I had finally returned to source, and the river could continue to flow.
The essence of Appreciative Inquiry is focusing on what’s working well generates the enthusiasm and excitement necessary to re-create the positive (and deal with the negatives) in a powerful manner — as opposed to just focusing on the negatives alone. By appreciating and valuing the best of ourselves, others and periods of time, we heighten our security to remain open, curious and detached about what else may be possible.
The personal idiom “open book” is leveraged less and less these days. Desperate to fly under the radar, I would toss the terminology around when describing myself, hoping to throw the scent off the trail. I — like many other people dishing out red herrings — was hiding something, praying that no one would come and seek.
For as smart as human beings are, our self-imposed limitations are omnipresent. The desperate need for certainty, encircling our mind in most predatory fashion, leads us to do whatever it takes to understand why we do what we do — even if we have to make it up. Ambiguity is the enemy, and justification is our temporary antidote for relief.
It goes without saying, it was a fool’s errand to attempt to address outside circumstances whenever my inner waves were most volatile. What I needed to address was how I dealt with them. The discussion I had inside my head. The meaning I extracted from inherently meaningless events. Focus on what I wanted instead of what I had to do.
Constructive criticism always made wince. I was never quite mentally ready and even less emotionally prepared. Each sharp comment or cutting remark was interpreted as an arrow aimed straight at my heart, which I helplessly swatted at like a fleeing mosquito. My automatic tendency to deflect the feedback was primarily due to an overwhelming discomfort with who I actually was — and who I pretended to be as a result.
With more distracting information than ever available today, most people quietly yearn for wisdom. Rather than fabricate a guidance system that may but probably won’t be applicable to your unique situation, I’ve leveraged one of the finest minds in recent historical memory to forge a more universal guidance system.
I’ve tripped the alarm on my personality more times than I can count. One of the benefits of being stricken with self-denigration is you never really get too attached to a particular way of being. You’re willing to give up however you define yourself in lieu of a vogue disposition appearing to generate positive results.
I like to think I’m one of those people. By thinking I am, however, surely I am not. I’m talking about legitimately humble people. The kind of humility that ensues on its own volition and not by deliberate attempt. Those who are truly thankful and appreciative for everything that flows in their direction — even the stuff that’s unwelcome.
Opinions, essentially views based on innate understanding rather than fact, can certainly be helpful at times: we’re typically asked a couple of times a day to share on a given topic, so we might as well produce a strong argument. The majority of the time however, our opinions are extremely limiting and play a role in digging ourselves into holes we struggle to climb out of.
We like to think we’re happy and positive people, but reality often projects the opposite. If you wrote down everything you said for an entire day, the feedback — patron saints aside — would probably be pretty underwhelming. Negativity is everywhere, and it damn sure doesn’t take a genius to locate it. We post our daily inspirational Instagram fodder, jumping right back into bitching about long lines, policy changes, and the car in front of us shortly thereafter.