Fear of the (un)known

Its no surprise to you by now that I am a little bit of a coffee addict.  I tend to relate my life story to the process of making the most glorious nectar of the gods from bean to cup and how there is a strange parallel that can be drawn from this highly complicated and creatively ingenious process.  My second office is the local Starbucks that is across the road from my clinic, which is currently where I am composing this post.

However, this isn’t really about coffee… more about conversations I’ve had over said beverage and just how important they are.  Over the past few years I’ve learned a LOT….that might actually be an understatement.  I’ve always had a small interest in the field of psychology, in particular sports psych, simply because of the clientele I see on a daily basis.  It wasn’t until my recent life implosions that truly birthed this new desire to explore more into the way we are wired as humans; why we think the way we do, why we are so different in our personalities, how we interact with others etc…

To be honest, it wasn’t until I was completely vulnerable with a good friend that I really became aware of this new train of thought.

I love watching my kids swim.  The way jumping into a pool or lake can immediately put a perma-smile on their faces.  The laughter, the fun, the opportunity to simply enjoy quality time with them or just observe the beauty of their young innocence is overwhelming!  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of swimming, but that’s my own lack of self confidence that even at thirty-six years old, the slight embarrassment of my rocking ‘Dad-Bod’ seems to still cause a hesitation to go shirtless in public…don’t judge, I’m a work in progress!

In conversation with a client, who is a swimming instructor, we were discussing the difference between teaching kids versus teaching adults how to swim.  In her experience,  instructing her adult clients was much more of a challenge then teaching kids.  The difference comes down to fear.

Fear of the consequences

Fear of the lack of confidence

Fear of the known

I’ve witnessed this with my own kids.  Having five of them, I am acutely aware of the liberties a child with no fear can have around water, when fun is the only thought that their innocent and still developing brain comprehends at the moment.  Only until they begin to experience the consequences of an inability to float or remain head above water  does the fear begin to cause hesitation.

It’s the fear of the known or the possibility that something bad can happen that causes a crippling anxiety and paralysis.

So back to coffee and conversation…

I’ve learned there are three possible reactions to the art of being vulnerable an sharing our story with others.

  1. Our struggles, hurts, anxieties, worries etc, will be too much and push others away
  2. Our vulnerability will strengthen and deepen a relationship
  3. You will learn more about yourself then you might want to!

Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end (a few times) of relationships gone sour thanks to being vulnerable and open with those I thought might understand or be able to help.  There are individuals in our lives that only see skin deep, who can’t get to the heart of our experiences and won’t have the ability to or the desire to jump in the deep end with us for fear that we will pull them under.  This could be because they are not good swimmers themselves and have a fear of drowning or have had their own past experience of jumping in to help save someone and being dragged to the bottom.  Although sometimes not their fault directly, in most cases (in my cases), people were only willing to step in the shallow end and try to encourage from a distance, or felt I was a lost cause or too far gone already.  Based on my experiences in the past few years, this doesn’t help… when in full panic, drowning, hopeless, hurt and unable to catch a breath.

For those reading, who may not be suffering, could I encourage you to not be afraid to get wet?!?  It might be uncomfortable and seem dangerous, however, I can tell you with absolute truth, that those you are supporting (whether it feels that way or not), do appreciate your willingness to jump in.  And if they don’t, that is their own choice and is not on you to bear that responsibility.

For those reading, who may be suffering, could I encourage you to not allow those experiences of lose and despair to discourage you from continuing to call for help?!? Will you be so bold to attempt another conversation? To continue to seek out those who can help, who although may not understand, will be empathetic and lend an ear and the friendship you so desperately need!  There is the very real possibility of finding deep meaningful friendships and relationships with others when we are vulnerable and transparent.  We are truly able to determine true friendship when they are willing to jump in the deep with us and be exactly what is necessary in our time of need.

I will be honest, I have found that the act of vulnerability has become easier with time.  In fact, I just met with a friend tonight over coffee to just be real and open.  And the more I talk to friends about my struggles, the more I write them down, the more people reach back.  We all need each other, we all experience times where life becomes overwhelming and we feel like its impossible to keep our head above the water.

So be open, be real, be vulnerable.  Trust that there are others out there that will come along when you need them.  Reach out, don’t lose hope and trust the journey.  If you feel you have no one, if you’ve lost all hope….please remember you can text 7058682616 – even if we don’t know each other, I’ll be happy to lend an ear.  Coffee and conversation are two of my favorite things.  I may not have all the answers, I may not be a psychologist or life coach, but I can be a friend.  We all struggle, don’t do it alone!

Until next time…be well

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Going for a spin

Driving by the Peterborough Exhibition after work today conjured up memories of a time I would prefer to let go from my vast collection of childhood stories.  The contraption of certain horror that caught my attention was the spiraling death trap with lights that starts horizontal than proceeds to propel itself in a vertical fashion whilst spinning at mock 900.

I was once a young innocent boy who traveled to an amusement park with his family for fun, music and terrible carney food.  Six Flags Darien Lake, had one of those terrifying rides that I was taunted for not wishing to ride.  I believe it was aptly named “UFO”, which if it had become unhinged, would certainly mimic said description!  I eventually succumbed to the pressures of my youth and made my way to the line….which in hindsight was terribly short, and should have instantly thrown the proverbial red flag, however, I did not make that connection.  As I chose my standing post (yes it was a standup ride), I secured my shoulder harness, adjusted my seat, began to recite the Lord’s prayer and observed my surroundings.  Standing in the cage directly across from me, stood a rather hefty women, whom I can only assume was a lovely lady with a beautiful personality, yet after our experience on the UFO, our paths did not cross again, for eye contact may have been difficult and rather awkwardly embarrassing.

With a hellish noise like a pack of a thousand ravenous hyenas on the scent of a limp gazelle on the plains of the Serengeti, the nightmare of a ride began to spin.  Slow at first, to accommodate it’s occupants and tease the weakest of riders, the speed, volume and my seat began to elevate….yes, my seat began to elevate, the locking mechanism was somehow faulty, causing the seat to steadily rise and encroach on my most sensitive of man parts, eventually causing such pressure that my heels involuntarily began to lift.  As you can imagine, this was only complicated by the eventual progression to a vertical state, to which each rotation summons the immovable, hard plastic seat ever so tightly against my loins.  If this experience was not bad enough, remember the lovely lady across from me?!?  As the rotation of the UFO crept towards an unimaginable and unthinkable pace, I caught the eye of the above mentioned women…the eye is singular as her other was sealed shut by the contents of the stomach of the individual beside her.  Her calm, sensible and feminine demeanor changed to a grotesque, nauseous Ursula the Sea Witch from Little Mermaid.  At this point it seemed that although our velocity was that of the Apollo shuttles, time suddenly came to a halt, and all my fears were realized in one moment.  Pain, suffering, fear, doubt…questioning all my current life choices in that moment.

However, as quick as it started, the UFO began to slow… The cycle of certain tragedy and sadness had begun its decent back to a horizontal state, with speeds steadily decreasing, nauseous green faces returning to a lighter shade of normal, and the volume decreasing to a soft hum of breaks gripping tighter to halt the spinning beast of the apocalypse.     At this point my lower torso and legs were completely numb, I can only imagine similar to the effects of a spinal epidural.  As I gingerly and awkwardly made my way toward the exit like a newborn giraffe taking its first steps, I realized this experience will forever be etched in the deep parts of my psyche and will cause anxiety whenever I encounter a ride of such demonic manifestation.  The physical, emotional and mental discomfort of that ride clearly has lasting effects to this day!

So what is my point with this story?  other than the entertaining value of my unfortunate circumstances I have found myself in?  Well as you are now well aware at this point (if you have been reading my previous blogs), I tend to be able to pull analogies out of ridiculous scenarios.  It may be the product of being the son of a preacher man (thanks Dad)…I think I might start a side business selling sermon ideas to preachers who are stuck for their Sunday sermon (idea patent pending)?!?

Life seems to flow in cycles.  I have found myself stuck in some vicious circles of poor choices, of negative thought patterns, and unhealthy habits of poor nutrition, terrible sleep patterns and poor self talk.  But what is worse, is being stuck in situations, relationships or big life cycles that cause perpetual pain and suffering.  Save You, a song by one of my favorite artists (yes I have a few), Matthew Perryman Jones, has the line

“Something’s gotta Break, you gotta swing the bat  Too many years of dying, Why is that?” – Save You – video https://youtu.be/PnGNWFV6Rak

The song is called “Save You”, about broken relationships and what should be done to save someone from hurt and pain.  It hits pretty hard, as with most relationships (friends, family, business, etc), sometimes difficult choices have to be made to break cycles of destruction.  How long do we stay in destructive, painful, exhausting, negative relationships before something has to give?!?   There does come a time that these negative cycles need to be broken.  We may try for years to mend a relationship, to keep a job because we feel its needed, to hold on tight to someone who just wants to hurt us.  There may be times that we have caused someone pain by our choices, whether intentional or not, and sometimes reasoning, debating and trying to explain may simply fall on deaf ears.  So as much as it hurts, we might have to swing a bat and destroy something that has meant so much to us with the intent of putting an eventual end to the immediate pain.

Obviously this will not bring ultimate relief, as there is terrible sadness, grief, and loss for a long time.   We always bear the emotional and mental scars of past hurts and past negative cycles, but I truly believe there is hope to move past the hurt; learning, growing and eventually becoming better versions of what we are.  So maybe to save someone, or to save yourself, the cycle has to be broken for the future to be better, brighter, slower, and to eventually get off the ride that has been so painful for what seems so long.

 

 

Finding Joy in the Mediocre

I’m not sure if I’m the only one on the Lacrosse bench that takes some of the coaches words as deep life lessons that make for great blog posts?!?  In the midst of a few expletives (that shouldn’t be repeated), were scattered the words “focus on what is in front of you”.  In the context of the game, it was referring to the quick ball movement the opposing team was using to distract our defense from the pics and slides that were taking place inside.  Now I’m not a lacrosse player, I have actually never played the game, but I have been the Head Athletic Trainer for the Peterborough Lakers for the past seven seasons.  I have been a part of  two Mann Cup Canadian Championships and have the rings to prove it!  So even though my eight year old son can cradle me under the table, I’ve picked up a couple of things along the way!

Focusing on what is in front of you allows you to see the plays develop, gives confidence to your teammates around you that you will pick up your assignment and can also provide clear direction when communicating with your defensive team.  When players buy into that mentality, they are unstoppable.  It is quite amazing to watch from the bench when things come together and a team begins to listen to the wise words of the coach.  Sure there will be the occasional time when a player looses focus and the defense falls apart, goals are scored, players are ticked…but with a simple regroup and reminder, one can refocus for the next shift.

I have this cycle that I go through that is incredibly hard to break.  Lately I have struggled finding any joy in my world. When I think I’ve found it, something happens and I loose it, blame myself and cycle into my depression and panic.  I have a massive amount of guilt that I feel about this lack of joy as I have five beautiful kids, a great job and amazing coworkers and great friends.

I just can’t seem to focus long enough on those things that should bring me joy and am distracted by the negative, destructive and hurtful things that happen or that I feel daily.  Or I get myself entangled in my past mistakes, become discouraged and feel like I should be kicked out of the game because I’m just not good enough to compete with what this life is throwing my way.  The guilt I feel is the hardest emotion to deal with.

My kids mean the world to me, when I am with them I feel so much contentment, then I begin my negative cycle because I realize that I have let myself loose focus and distracted away from them, and this is a crushing feeling that I’ve let my kids down somehow and am not a good dad, so on, and so on…  I do this with my job, friends, relationships…. and much like the defense on the team, need to take time to settle, regroup, refocus and try again.   Just like at the end of a game, I know how exhausting it can be…blood, sweat and many tears later, either we’ve won the game or we’ve lost it.  If you win, celebrate and try and do it again the next day….but if you loose (and this is where I find myself now), we still have a chance the next time to do it again.  To regroup, refocus, maybe watch some game tape, learn from the mistakes the game before, talk to a coach and focus on what is in front of you.

So why the title of this blog…

I think we sometimes get lost in the excitement of the destruction.  If you’ve ever watched the collapse of a team when the opposition begins to exploit the weaknesses and goes on a goal scoring run that deflates even a powerhouse team…you’ll know what I’m talking about.  But that doesn’t mean positives can’t be drawn from the horrendous defeats.  Joy can be found in the mediocre, in our daily seemingly mundane or difficult situations.  The difficult part is being able to focus on what could bring us joy in the midst of these struggles.   A good coach will always be able to point out where things went right, even in the midst of a blowout lose.  They won’t focus all the attention on the mistakes of the previous game, but will take the opportunity to educate on what went wrong, what can be learned, and move forward focusing on what went right, fixing the small or large details.  And when things start to turn around, that’s where we can focus on the joy of the win, even the small mediocre victories of each day.  Maybe its as simple as a good night sleep, waking up in the morning, the cup of coffee crafted and beginning the day.  Remind yourself of the little things that can bring joy in the midst of collapse, it doesn’t make a lose easier but it might not hurt as much….its a long season, there is a lot of game left, so take some time to regroup, remind yourself of what should bring you joy, focus and get back to the game…Your next shift is about to begin!


I’ll be the first one to admit this is easier said then done….I spend a lot of time at Starbucks…..not only because I am highly addicted to coffee, but it is my place to come, write, refocus, regroup and try to find the joy again.  I am here today because I feel like I lost it this week…. and I know I’m not alone!

if you need someone, don’t forget to text 7058682616….I’m no life coach, but maybe an ear or an outside view can help!

Also, I’m almost ready to release a snippet of the book I’m working on…hopefully soon!  keep an eye out for “The 30,000ft View” or ” What is Next”….still working on titles!

Willing to be Misunderstood

My last post dove into the complexity of understanding and that with true understanding comes true wisdom.  And speaking of personal experience, realizing the importance of the messages we send to others with our words, actions and behaviors.   I want to take some time to explore the other side of the subject; when our message is misunderstood.

I’ve written before about the trouble I have with not accepting the perceptions of others and the pain that comes from holding tight to the opinions of those individuals and how they can negatively effect the very narrative that speaks in our cognitive thoughts around our self confidence and sense of self worth.  In my story, the consequences and damage of constantly accepting that I am not good enough has led to some extremely difficult situations and has had detrimental effects on my mental health.  I am aware daily of my struggle with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and panic; all the while trying to maintain a persona at work that I’ve got it all together.  Even those that may know a little of my story, receive a vague “I’m fine, all is good”, when inside there is a hopelessness and void that feasts on my mind and heart.  The end of each day is exhausting, a physical collapse, yet with a negative mental voice that has just consumed an undesirable amount of Red Bull and is ready to run all night!

In recent weeks, I have been trying to focus my thoughts on the how we understand others, or what we perceive others are saying and what their actions show us, when words and actions don’t seem to line up.  I am speaking from personal experience, as I have been on both ends of this question.  I have made choices in my business and personal life that sent the very people I love the wrong message.  That although  my reasoning and  intentions were pure and selfless in thought, the very decision to either disagree or pursue ventures that may or may not have been very lucrative and wise displayed the opposite of my intention.  This happens in life all the time; with friendships, coworkers, family, or even your local barista…  obviously when it happens with those we deeply care about, the need to feel understood and be accepted as truth becomes an even deeper scalding pot of searing angry, raw and heavy emotion…much like that fresh sizzling cast iron plate of fajita innards from most Mexican-esque restaurants.

I recently came across a quote from one of my favorite authors and podcasters, Mike Foster (Instagram @Mikefoster2000) who said that it is important to accept that you will not always be understood.  There needs to be a willingness to be misunderstood.  As an Enneagram Nine (take the test….it’s pretty eye opening), my title is that of a peace maker.  Abandoning self to keep peace, retreating into my own mind constantly at war with how to keep said peace and how to be understood for my choices, not defending, but succumbing to negative or conflict driven speech.  Clearly one can see just how tortuous, maddening and self destructive it can be to be in relational conflict and feel completely misunderstood!

And as per most of my posts…I don’t know how to solve this.  This for years has been a silent struggle.  One of which I never realized until the past few months of searching for the answer to the literal burn inside that consumed every waking thought.  Not only is this a mental and emotional nightmare, it also takes a very physical form.  For me, the recent experience of high blood pressure, insomnia, crippling headaches, nausea and back pain have begun to also affect my every day.  It’s a cycle that perpetually continues to bury deeper into an insurmountable depth and I can’t find breath.  To be honest, if it were not for my children, I know I would not still be here today.  The thought of taking my own life a year ago seemed to be a much more peaceful option than the continuation of being misunderstood, and the overwhelming depression, anxiety and pain that it caused.

I’m realizing that I will not be understood.  The world is full of many opinions and many stories that effect the ways in which each individual responds to any given situation.  Past experiences, personality types, and everyone’s story plays a role in how we communicate and how we understand the intention and reasoning of others.  Therefor when we are placed in a situation where we are forced to be misunderstood, remember that there is a story behind the confrontation.  The willingness to be misunderstood is difficult, but I believe can be powerful when we are able to come to a place of contentment within our disagreements. To walk away from confrontation with the strength to be ok… to truly be ok.  I am a very long way off, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but as most things, I’m learning, growing and trying.

Thanks for reading…

Wisdom to Understand

Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.

Other translations: Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment. (TLB)

Understanding seems to be somewhat hard to attain.  Wisdom and knowledge can be quite elusive and without it, we can’t seem to completely understand.  I’ve been on a bit of a journey in recent years and there is still so much I don’t understand.

Why am I the way I am?  Why do I react the way I do? Was there a specific event that molded my mind to work a certain way?  Some deep questions I never really expected I would be on an Indiana Jones type adventure to find!

I was challenged this week by a friend when our conversation took a deeper turn into the topic of confidence.  We were talking primarily about our kids, and the ways in which we as parents should be strong advocates for the strengths of our children, to develop a sense of confidence in them that will allow them to flourish in their growth into adults.   My friend made a comment about my strong musical / drumming ability and how I seem very confident when I play.  This made me think (as most deep conversations tend to do)…I have never really felt confident about my ability to play music.  Every time I sit behind a drum kit, my stomach turns and I get extremely nervous. I suppose I have developed a habit of eating my feelings to hide how I’m truly feeling.  (Maybe that is why I chose to play drums… I get to hide behind a kit, behind the rest of the band!)   I have an incredible fear of failure…I mean, I’m the drummer, if I screw up, there goes the song!  Not many people will notice a missed note from the guitar or bass, but miss a beat and all eyes send immediate laser glances in your direction that can cause soul crushing combustion that wreaks havoc for your entire musical career!  I can still remember shows where I dropped a stick or skipped a beat…haunting!!

This is when I began to question the sense of my confidence in my abilities, but mainly my unspoken level of unattainable perfection.   I know I have made comments in previous posts about my lack of self confidence, but this just seems a little different.  I feel as though I have lived most of life with a false sense of outward confidence trying to reach this level of perfection in my craft or ability (or in life), that seems impossible to attain.   This incredible pressure I have placed on myself could likely be part of the influences that have driven some decisions I have made through some challenging times in my career that unfortunately were not the right choices to make.  Please know that by no means do I use my personality flaws or mental influences as an excuse for some poor choices.  We all make choices in life, and ultimately those choices are our responsibility.  Yes there can be external or internal pressures, influences or reasons beyond our control that will all factor into those decisions and I will not negate that, as I feel those pressures daily.  I also know the weight of the destructive turmoil that can be created when we allow those internal dialogues to ultimately cloud our judgment and understanding of the decision we are making.  This is the lack of wisdom that so often prevails.

So how has this affected my confidence? I will never attain the level of perfection I seem to have placed upon myself.

I will never be good enough.

I will never be enough.

This is my consistent internal dialogue that I allow to influence everything in my life.    Something as simple as playing drums in my Sunday morning church service or teaching a workshop I have taught for years brings me an anxiety and nervousness that is unwarranted and yet, unrelenting.

Where did this come from?

This is what I’ve been trying to unpack since my conversation with my friend this past week.  And to be honest, I can’t seem to figure that out yet.  Maybe it will be the topic of my next therapy session.  But for now, I seem to go back to my childhood and the heavy influence my parents had on me.  My parents are incredible human beings, who have displayed a love and devotion to family and to each other that is to be honored and respected.  Their outward expression of unconditional love and support for me, my sister and all those they come in contact with is beyond anything I deserve… and when I dive into my development as a child and young boy, I can’t help but wonder if I misinterpreted the messages I received from them, or if I didn’t receive what they were trying to send…. Maybe because my childhood was void of negative or challenging times to where I might consider myself to have had a sheltered life, that once I began to experience failure or rejection, I didn’t know how to accept it and would therefor challenge myself to constantly aim for perfection so I wouldn’t need to experience that pain….

Now I am faced with the painful and very real thought of the messages I have and am sending my kids as they grow and develop into the beautiful people they will become.  I will continue to express my unconditional love to them as all parents should, but am struck with panic lately that my current situation, my past decisions or my words may be sending them the wrong message.  They are influenced by all the things that I have done and said…

It is like dropping a stick or missing a beat, yet the eyes that are focused on me are the ones of my own children, and those eyes mean everything to me.  To feel like a disappointment as a father is one that I can never let go of.  As my journey continues and I begin to unpack this in my own life, I will search for wisdom to understand and to make sure they know that even though they too may someday miss a beat or drop a stick, they have the choice to let that define them, or they can pick up, dust off and play their heart out without the expectation of an unattainable perfection.


putting your heart out there isn’t easy and I get it… don’t forget, although I’m not a councilor, I have two ears and my own story and love to listen and talk.  feel free to text 7058682616

 

 

 

Raging Water

Today was a tough day… the reality of a broken relationship, questioning all my past and current choices, the hurt of misunderstanding, the feeling of shame, the weight of my family’s future and the constant barrage of self sabotaging negative dialogue is raging a war inside my head.  My heart aches, and my body hurts.  My anxiety and depression are becoming difficult to manage…

so I got in the car and took a drive

I took a drive to clear my head and drown my thoughts with music and podcasts, and soon found myself next to the water just north of the city.  Being next to water, in nature, observing creation at it’s finest has always been a calming place for me.  Growing up, I was incredibly fortunate to be exposed to the great outdoors at a young age, when my dad would take me camping each summer from the age of eight.  Although it seemed like injuries were a common, consistent and inevitable right of passage for the Martin boys camping weekend, I looked forward to it each year.  These weekends above most other childhood memories are vivid and are cherished.  They have helped shape me, have affirmed a love of the outdoors, a deep appreciation for back woods first aid skills, and encourage a peace that can only come from being in that environment.

I needed to find that calm today

As I sat trying to admire the beauty, trying desperately to ease the storm inside, I was mesmerized and drawn to the rushing water as it cascaded down the river.  It was loud, reckless, uncontrolled and dangerous.   Yet sitting on the shore, I knew I was safe from the unpredictable current of turmoil raging just a few feet in front of me.

The trajectory of my life has followed a similar path.  What seems to start as a calm, flowing river, quiet and serene, quickly turns into a raging, roaring, and unpredictable series of waves and rapids.   There is a term used in WhiteWater circles called “Reversal”.  This is a place where the current swings upwards and revolves back on itself, causing a treacherous meeting of currents that can drown swimmer and rafters (sourced from https://www.pinnacle-travel.org/whitewater-rafting-glossary/).  This seems to be the place I currently find myself, in an inescapable, treacherous current; almost drowning.

I’m sure there are plenty others who feel stuck in this rotating spiral of vicious waves, trapped with no visible way out, unsure of which way is actually up!  But what actually calmed my own head (and eventually inspired this post), was that although I was fixated on the raging water and the noise it created, turning to look further down stream to see the water become calm, the noise died, the current slowed and peace being found.   The chaos that was so unpredictable, soon made sense.  It became tame, controlled and quiet.  It brought back those soul reassuring and refreshing feelings of being a young boy standing feet from the water, breathing the beauty of the outdoors, weightless and free.  It certainly doesn’t mean that the problems, anxieties, fears and burdens are not still present…they are very much still there… but there is hope that someday soon it will make sense.  The turmoil and chaos of our lives is only there for a time;  it may toss and turn again, swell up, force us back down….

but eventually it becomes quiet, becomes meaningful, and rest and peace will come.


 

Open Hands

one of the most obvious life lessons I have had the (unfortunate) pleasure of learning over the past few years, is the life is not in my control.  As much as I can try and take control of things and try to steer situations, outcomes, even people in a direction that I feel they should go…I am reminded constantly that it is a futile waste of effort.

Please understand me, I completely agree that there are elements of our days that we do and can control.  We make decisions and choices constantly throughout the day, from the decision to wake up, what to eat, what to wear, to what email to read and send, to bigger life altering and financial decisions etc.  So I certainly agree that parts of this life is choices and control…. it reminds me of one of my favorite prayers.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

I’ve struggled with the futility of trying to change situations.  As you know (if you’ve read my other posts), I am a fixer, I want to be able to help anyone with anything…except myself.  It has been ingrained in me that others take priority over my own health and well-being, and I’ve recently been forced to realize that looking after myself is imperative to my successes in helping others (still the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do).  It is also a hard lesson to learn that situations involving others are simply out of my control.  That I can only be responsible for my actions, words, thoughts and choices.  The reaction, response and actions of others are their responsibility and shouldn’t fall on my shoulders.  Again, I understand that choices we make that influence and affect others, that may not have been wise or responsible, may bring consequences that challenge those relationships and those need to be dealt with, however, for the purpose of this post, I am trying to keep it in the shallow end, and not dive into the depth of an endless debate over consequences and ramifications of choices…

so getting back on track…

I’ve began to notice how worn my hands are.  If I hang on to something for too long or grip tight for an extended period, my hands begin to hurt.  Working in my field for as many years as I have has caused some physical changes to the musculature in my hands that elicit this unfortunate reaction.  When I am able to open my hands and relax, pain goes away, circulation and feeling returns.

This has been a reminder of living life holding too tight.  Trying to grip and hold tight to aspects, situations or people that I can’t control. I want to, and the thought of letting go is frightening.  It is full of worry, doubt, fear and anxiety.  And when these things are pulled and ripped out of my hands, it hurts because of how tightly clenched my hands are.

But slowly (very, incredibly slowly), I have begun to let go, to open my hands.  To allow those situations that I know I cannot control to just ‘be’.  To be free, to not let them cause me so much discomfort and pain.  I have been told several times by a couple of counselors and therapists over the years that pain and suffering are different.   That I don’t need to suffer from the pain in my hands if I just open them and allow the life to flow through them again.  There is still pain there, and the memories and past experiences will always be etched in my mind, but I don’t need to let those things hold so much weight that they consume everything.  Holding so tight also limits our ability to be given anything else, as our hands are now full.

Living life with open hands not only eases the suffering, but it allows for opportunities, gifts and situations to be given to us.  Nothing can be given, if we are not ready and open to receive it.  So just as letting go of control can relieve so much stress, suffering and pain, the opposite is true.  It can allow for more to be freely given.

So friends, how are you living?  with open hands or holding too tight to the things you can’t control?!?  Trust me, I know how hard this is.  It is so much easier to write the words, then to put them into practice.  But if there is anything I have learned, it is that the eventual ability to begin to let go and open your hands will begin to bring feeling back and ease the suffering.  It is a work in progress, when we know nothing else but holding tight, the letting go is hard.  I hope and pray that you will be able to begin to open your hands.


as always, my cell is 7058682616, send a text if you need to!