Thursday, December 24, 2009
This year is rapidly coming to a close. Looking back, I can definitely say that that I learned a lot about the people in my life. More importantly, I learned a lot about myself. Like many of you, I am reflecting on everything that has happened, but with gratitude. I am grateful for all it-- the good, bad, and especially the ugly. The "good" has given me hope and affirmation. The "bad" has pushed me to work harder at "getting it right." The "ugly", however, has been the most valuable of the three. You see, the ups and downs of life are just a part of the journey. When I am focused and driven, I can take it all in stride. Struggling for balance is what life is all about. The really bad stuff, however, has forced me to see myself and others very clearly. There is no better time to find out who is with you than when you are up and when you are down.
If you will bear with me, I'd like to offer some of my insights.
1) Change is as difficult for others as it is for you.
For any number of reasons, you may not get the support that you would expect from family and "friends" when you attempt to make big changes. Marriage, divorce, having children (or not), new job/business venture, returning to school/graduating, moving, weight loss, and matters of faith will all change who you are, how you look at the world, and how others look at you. Don't lose sight of why you made your decision. Stick to your guns. Those who love you will come around eventually. Some will stand with you every step of the way. Just give it time, please God, and please yourself.
2) Inputs Equal Outputs
I am learning to slow down a bit, and for me that is huge! I am admittedly the queen of burnout. I figure that if I am going to do something, I have to do it right and all the way. You know, "go hard or go home." At some point, it is critical to stop and REST. On the flip side of things though, whatever you put into something will determine what you get out of it. Set clear, measurable goals, prioritize them, and assign deadlines. That way, you will be less likely to get sidetracked. More importantly, you will focus your energies on what adds to your life rather than what takes away from it.
3) Give yourself permission to love.
Sometimes we get hurt by the people we love. Self-preservation is the first law of nature, so the natural thing to do is to cut off the source of the pain. Ironically, whatever the source of the pain, many of us choose to punish and blame ourselves. But, there is another way to look at it. Our actions can trigger a variety of emotional responses in people, however, we have no control over what they choose to do with their feelings. We can only control how we react. I don't know any perfect people. I have my flaws and weaknesses like everybody else. And while it is difficult to separate what people do from who they really are, it is possible to love them all the same. Just be wise about the role they play in your life. Love self first, then others.
4) Listen to your own voice and you'll never go wrong.
(Now if you are hearing voices in your head and they each have a name, then skip this piece of advice!) Whether or not you realize it, each of us has the ability to figure many things out for ourselves. A lot of drama would be avoided if we stopped sharing our business with everybody. When you tell others about your personal struggles, many will assume that they now have a license to advise you and everybody else on what you need to do. I am bowled over by the number of divorced people who try to give advice to couples who are trying to stay together. Or how about people who have no children that transform into the Super Nanny every time they show up at your door? If you don't want outside advice, don't ask for it or at least consult with someone who is in the place you are trying to get to. Better yet, consider what advice you would give someone you love--then, take your own advice.
5) Be yourself.
You are a uniquely created individual. You were given a special combination of skills and talents that must be cultivated and used in this lifetime. You will inspire somebody, hurt somebody, succeed, fail, stand strong, fall down, get up, soar to great heights, sink to new lows, love yourself, hate yourself, be proud, and even disappoint yourself and others. I have. But, through it all, accept who you are with all of your imperfections and live your life your way. No one can do you better than you. Nor can you be a better version of anybody else. If you are reading this today, it's because someone believes that you deserve another opportunity to get it right. Don't squander it. That might be a tall order, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Be good to yourself! More next time...