The past few months I’ve been a bit more silent when it comes to my blog. I’ve been a bit more introspective in my writing. Today instead of getting caught up with the daily ebb and flow of life, I decided to put the remote down, and open my laptop. Like many of you I doubt myself a lot, have I done the right things? Have I taken the right steps to accomplish my future? While I do write about positive things, I too struggle with many of those same topics, and this past few months have’t been any different.
How is fear controlling me?
I listen to quite a few TEDtalks and similar programs, my newest obsession is Invisibilia on NPR. On a recent episode Fearless they explore various ways in which fear influences us. They talked about the way our brains and our physiology reacts to fear, and how our brains can’t distinguish between real or perceived fear. What does any of this mean? A simple way to put it is that if your fear is perceived, you don’t feel any differently about it. That leads me to ask the question, “Is fear stopping me from achieving the kind of future I’d like?” What messages am I telling myself, is my attitude a bigger contributor to my success or failure? A part of me definitely believes that with a better attitude I’ll be happier. Many people believe that with happiness comes gratefulness, but I learnt in another TEDtalk; it’s more gratefulness that leads to a happier life. So now my mission is to be more grateful for everyday experiences, like the ability to get out and walk around in this beautiful place I live in. In the conclusion of the Invisibilia episode on Fear, one of the hosts Lulu Miller gives her formula on overcoming fear, and I’m willing to share that with you. Fear = Thinking + Time, if you take away either thinking or time you don’t have fear.
Haunted by Past Relationships!
My last relationship was over 2 years ago, so fell free to think “hey this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I should discredit EVERYTHING he says.” Before you completely write me off, I ask that you at least consider some of the points I’m making about my own journey, and ask if there’s any similarities with yours? Yes I know 2 years is a long time, and at the expense of sounding like some people in my life, yes I understand that’s a LONG time to be single; lol that’s a discussion for another post. I find that I’ve been thinking a lot about my last relationship, and whether it was the right decision to end it. But that’s the fallacy isn’t it, at the time it’s not like I said ‘hey I can make a stupid decision, or I can carefully consider things, I’m going to go with the stupid decision.’ Things we’ve done in our past, for the most part we’ve carefully considered them. Knowing what we know now, we can see that things could have played out quite differently. While I do still deal with the consequences of my decisions, I can’t think of it in terms of what I know now. I think it’s interesting that sometimes when we think of the past we seem to remember mostly either the bad or the good. My latest thought is that while I’m remembering the good aspects of that relationship, for other reasons it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean that I can’t look for those qualities from someone new. Isn’t that the point of life, to learn from our past mistakes, and to not repeat our bad behaviors. Instead of focusing on the past, I could devote my energy to the present, and being intentional about the future I want.
How has my Faith helped or hindered me?
Being Christian isn’t easy, there’s many aspect that some might consider “fun” that I don’t indulge in. Without specifics, I’ve chosen to embrace a certain life, because when it comes down to it, it’s part of my nature, my upbringing. I had a conversation with my mom a few months back about some of the aspects that are central to my life, and I realized now why I’m the way I am. I was raised christian so many of those values have been en-grained into me. When I was younger I had a lot of misconceptions about what I could and couldn’t do as a christian. Without getting into any specific debates, I’d say that there were certain thing that never appealed to me. While it was fun to indulge myself for a time, that indulgence didn’t make me any happier about myself. In many cases I turned to destructive ways both mentally and physically, that weren’t any more fulfilling in the end. Especially here in my blog, I don’t specifically talk about my Christian Faith. I’m finding it hard to spread a message of Peace, Love, and Acceptance. Especially when others who share my faith, especially the most vocal ones are especially hateful to others. They preach a message of hate, ignorance, and otherness. I find it interesting that Jesus our greatest example as a Christian, when asked what’s the greatest commandment said:
… A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39 NLT
To us the term neighbor is simple, but to the people of that time, a neighbor wasn’t just the person in close proximity. A neighbor also meant people who don’t share your religion, ethnicity, or even a mortal enemy. For me that means that even though you may not share my faith, showing you love isn’t conditional, showing you love doesn’t mean that you have to share my beliefs. My central question still remains “how do I spread a message of love and understanding” when others are saying that if we don’t share the same faith, I should hate you?
My life today is different from my dreams!
Why is it that what most of us imagined our lives being, isn’t the way it is today! Remember when you were a kid and wanted to be a Doctor, a Nurse, Lawyer, Celebrity? Why is it that many of our lives are vastly different? I was talking to a friend a last week, and she shared the same sentiment. The truth though is that while some of us aren’t the things we aspired to be, we’re happy with who we’ve become. I would say that the past few years have been more about appreciating who I’ve become, and to stop obsessing about what I’ve not accomplished. Life has a way of throwing you those curve balls doesn’t it? My view today has changed, on most days I believe that “I’m exactly where I need to be” I believe that each of our lives plays out in a way that helps to orient us towards our most beneficial self. Of course we also have choices, each day we make a choice to go one direction over another. Living my life believing that I’m where I’m needed frees me up to see opportunities that my presence can help fulfill. Not in a selfish grandiose way, but I believe that there are things each of us are uniquely qualified to handle. A changing view of life means that I also no longer hold on to the idea of a Perfect Relationship. I imagined that there’s a person out there that you won’t have to face certain issues with. Imagine a continuum if you will, where there’s a certain threshold that you don’t go below, but the truth is the person isn’t a determining factor whether certain relationships will have to deal with certain issues. In some ways conflict is a necessary part of all relationships, no relationship is devoid of conflict. As Gary Thomas recently put it in a recent article “Singles: Your feelings don’t matter half as much as this” he said:
Your future partner’s ability to handle conflict will have far more impact on your satisfaction in marriage that your current level of feelings.
Realizing that there is not really a Perfect Relationship, and that it matters more how much work you put in, my views continue to evolve. I believe that this fits with other aspects of life too. Sometimes challenges or conflict highlights our deficiencies. When faced with those deficiencies do we run or give up, or do we stick around and try to overcome them. For me I believe the latter is what leads to a successful relationship, it’s not that you’re not going to have conflict, or tumultuous times. It’s learning to work through them, it’s being committed to working with the other person. This should be one of the most important tenants of any relationship..