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…

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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!

The Good Doctor

To be able to pen words of wisdom and enlightenment, with an inspirational depth unattainable by another human while being consistent and concise with cadence and and incredible advice… is a dream that one day I wish to realize.

I will never be as eloquent and precise as one of my all all time favorite authors Dr. Seuss…I can certainly aspire to be, however he had a way with words that really can’t be replicated…

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

In my opinion, the book “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, is by far the most inspirational and affirming collection of words I have had the privilege of reading.   When my eldest daughter was born 12 years ago (almost 13…as she continually reminds me), it was the first text I read to her.  With emotional and likely tired tearful eyes I would struggle through the sentences as the truth of its contents spoke to me and my aspiration for her as she would grow and develop into the independent, beautiful and compassionate young lady she is today.

This book was not only read to her, but to my 4 other children when they were all newborns.  It became a father’s tradition.

Somewhere along the years, I let go of the truth of Dr. Seuss’ wisdom and became complacent in my days and struggled with inspiration and motivation.  Each day became a chore and getting myself together in the morning to go to work, put on a friendly face, pretend to care, and just get through, became exhausting.

“When you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

 

I found the book the other day while tidying up after putting my kids to bed.  Giving it a read again brought me to tears (which isn’t hard to do), but it brought a swell of emotions of failure, disappointment and grief.  The situations I currently find myself facing these days have been difficult and challenging, and with the recent events that have unfolded in the hockey community with the devastating bus crash that took the lives of sixteen Humbodlt Broncos, I am holding my own kids a little tighter; yet I have a strong feeling of failure as a father.  My kids are my everything; to feel inadequate as a dad and not ever wanting my children to go through life’s difficulty was incredibly heavy in that moment.

I still struggle to get through most days, and when I’m in a dark place of fear, panic and anxiety, believe it or not, I try to remember the words of this book.  Dr. Seuss seemed to know just what I need!  And I think the reason is simple… he was human too, had his own struggles (I’m not going to go through his complete story as it’s a long one), but it makes me realize that I am not alone, and neither are you.  We all have a story and if you feel you are stuck or in a slump, just remember the words of the Dr.

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

 

Don’t give up friends!  Days are hard and long and that’s for real, but if you focus on you struggle, your mountain you’ll never succeed.   If we work together to lift each other up, our mountains we can climb, up to the top.  Be free of your pain you will not, but learn, lean and hope for tomorrow we can have, because you are strong, not alone and loved.



 

I hope you can be inspired or find some strength to carry on… today is your day!  move you mountain and see the places you’ll go.  feel free to text 7058682616 if you need someone to talk with, share your story with or just say hi!

assumptions and judgements

I feel like I live with this strange dichotomy.  I love to teach, to educate and share my knowledge.  To be in front of others; a group of strangers leading them into a deeper understanding of a particular topic I am passionate about.

Yet at the same time

I hate the feeling of being judged.  The thought of standing in front of a group of students or a group of my peers brings on huge anxiety.  Days leading up to an event or course that I am presenting, I begin to experience a dreaded panic, anxiety, worry and fear.  It seems ridiculous and I’ve had a difficult time trying to put reasoning behind the emotion I feel, especially after I’ve taught the same course and given the same talk several times before.  Yet without fail, I’m struck with an anxious fear that keeps me up at night!

During a recent counseling session, it was revealed that I have a fear of being judged.  Its not a selfish, worried about my ‘appearance’, ‘will I say the wrong things’, ‘is my fly down’, ‘do they hate my tattoo’ kind of judgement but rather a self imposed character judgment that I assume others are projecting.  This goes back to the lack of self confidence and self esteem that is non-existent in my life.  Stepping into any situation or social setting brings a feeling of increased nervousness and assumption that I am being judged.  Even when I am with my closest group of friends, my thoughts will begin to erode the joy of spending time with fantastic gentlemen and I’m left asking myself “why would these guys hang out with me?  why waste time with someone so damaged? they probably think I’m just a complete mess…

then the guilt sets in that I have wasted everyone’s time…

I certainly can’t be the only one to feel this way?!?

I could spend some time writing about the dangers of judging others.  How its imperative that we choose to live with an open-mind, trying to understand life’s various perspectives and not judging others as they are likely fighting a battle we cannot see.  But that would be a long post and you likely wouldn’t make it to the end (see what I did there…judged your attention span and your character a little…sorry).

But what I will say is that if we allow ourselves to impose our own judgment on others and how they perceive us, we will do them a complete disservice.  When I question the motives and intent of my good friends, I rob them of the joy of being a blessing to me and sharing their love with me.  When I push my insecurities onto those I’m teaching or speaking to, I limit the potential for them to truly experience and engage in what I can offer, because I hesitate to give the best of me…out of fear of an assumption, nothing legitimate.

The big question is how to change that mindset… how does one escape the fear of the assumption of being judged?  I wish I had the answer!  for now, managing the stress and anxiety is the only thing I seem to be able to do (even though I still don’t do that very well).   Being present in the moment, focusing on the here and now, may offer some distraction to the thoughts of what others are thinking…. but today I will start by apologizing to those I have projected a false assumption that you are judging me…  to my friends, thank you for being true to your geniuine love and friendship, and sorry for not being fully present to receive your gift.


Thank you for continuing to read this blog… I truly do hope you find some encouragement in the words and thoughts of a rambling, broken, imperfect human!! as always, feel free to to text 7058682616 if there is anything I can do to help.

Social Loneliness

According to my social media reach, my popularity and friendships are extensive…I couldn’t begin to tell you just how many “friends” or “followers” I have on all the various platforms I visit daily. This is rather unfortunate and somewhat meaningless to my actual social reality. Running a business has prompted the unfortunate necessity for an online presence to some degree. It seems that in order to build a business or attract new clients, your SEO has to be on point, you need daily or hourly updates on every platform, updated Google listings, Linked-In profile rocking, crushing the InstaStory, MySpace and GeoCities page and tweeting like a boss…

Yet as ‘connected’ as I am (and as we all are), the less it seems we understand how to work as humans. Speaking for myself, I can’t shake the feeling of loneliness that I feel when I’ve sat in Starbucks, updating every profile, creating new promo for the clinic, posting pictures, blogs, ads, and when I lift my head from my screen…I’m alone. Apparently after nine at night is not a popular time for coffee?!? Yet even on a busy weekend with a line up out the door at the local caffeinated establishment, I will still feel that same loneliness. In a crowded place, I feel alone, vulnerable and intimidated.

I’ve reached out to hundreds of online people who visit me on Instagram or Facebook, but I’m sitting alone…and the juxtaposition is sometimes a little depressing.

I’ll be the first to admit that there is a small sense of excitement, or relief when there is some sort of acknowledgement with something that I post. Whether it’s just one person who “likes” a picture or blog post… and the more I think about it, the more I realize that this attitude can’t be healthy. I understand the difficulty that results from putting any of our worth in the hands of those on the other side of a screen, especially when we likely don’t have an actual relationship of any sort with 3/4 of our friend list on the ol Facebook. The danger is to become a false representation of ourselves; an unrealistic version of who we truly are. When we reveal the true side of our daily grind and struggle, we face the reality that we have placed so much worth in the thoughts and response of others on social media that our identity and self worth become compromised.

I’m an individual who thrives on connection with others. Coffee and Conversation is extremely fulfilling…and not necessarily a deep, theological, philosophical or spiritual conversation…just the chance to be in relationship and take time. Time to be genuine, attentive and engaged in someone else. Time to put the screen away and connect with a person. This, to me, is beautiful, powerful and meaningful. I’m never going to solve the worlds problems, but just to share time with someone is priceless.

I was extremely fortunate tonight to meet up with an old friend from High School, who I haven’t seen in almost twenty (yes twenty) years. And I’ll admit that it was all thanks to social media that we connected again. We live and work in the same city that we grew up in, and yet we haven’t connected until now. So there certainly is a place for the social media machine. However, it was all due to the desire to truly connect with someone, and this I appreciate. I have been guilty on too many occasions of not following through on the actual human connection of an invitation to meet up for coffee or drinks with someone. And although the intention is genuine, the action is missing. So to my friend I met with tonight…Thank You for your intention and your willingness to sit and talk. It truly meant a lot and I do hope we do it again soon!

We have become a society that is so connected, yet so incredibly disconnected from one another. I hope to be able to bring back the human element of connectivity to my life. To not allow the surface connection of social media to effect my self worth. I do believe that the social media connection is a part of our society now and should certainly be embraced and used to connect, however, for me, it will truly never replace the human interaction.


Much like last week, I think I’ll challenge us all to do this… meet with someone, put the phone away, and have a coffee (or tea) and genuine conversation. It’s a beautiful thing! Break the loneliness we feel in the crowded places. If you feel alone in the crowd, please know you are not the only one… 7058682616 text if you need someone to share some time with over a coffee.