Just know that if you grow frustrated while the spotlight remains on you, there is a way out. The second you step out from focusing on your own comfort and benefit — taking your honorable place looking in the same direction of another — the closer you are to feeling more unrestricted than you have in your entire life.
Developing yourself as a person is total paradox, man — and by the way, you don’t have to. If you do, circumstances may be a little easier to bear, but who am I to judge? Either way, I don’t have any answers for you. I’m not a guru. I’m not an expert. I’m not a “master practitioner” like the online certification I completed says I am. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’ve only been chipping away at my psyche from a lateral perspective for (almost) a year now — hardly long enough to develop a solid, fortified foundation to extract bona fide wisdom from.
The backbiting comments and scathing criticisms slowly debilitated my confidence, enthusiasm, and eventually, willpower. These attributes were especially easy to part with when I succumbed to the belief that no matter what I tried, I couldn’t turn the volume down on this dreadful oration — the dialogue would continue no matter what.
Which is why people that tie a rope to a stake and fuse the other end onto their soul are so inspiring. Regardless of the fact she’s my parent, I did notmake it easy on my mother. She could’ve supplanted emotional distance on top of the physical distance I created and kept herself free from disappointment, pain and helplessness. Despite what your life rules may say about how a parent is supposed to treat their child, I was well into adulthood at the apex of my selfishness and she never once took her foot off the gas. Her love never surrendered to fear. This, my friends, is real resilience.
Lucky for me, my conscious awareness was nowhere near capable of assimilating the sources of what drove my behavior. Instead, it locked its targets on warding off awkward moments in public and quieting the expressive scorn that circumvented my psyche. It became a sociological game of capture the flag where the strategy was fly low enough beneath the radar to hide the fact that despite the hard exterior and macho posturing, I brought nothing compelling to the table. I hadn't a clue who the fuck I was.
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.