There are problems we talk about on a daily basis and they have been tackled for decades or even centuries. Yet, still, they remain. We have been searching for ways to overcome sadness and the lamenting tortures of heartache and the brokenhearted moments that are long gone, but for some reason, we hold them closely. And although painful, we keep this in our grips as a reminder of what happened.
How many times have we had faith in the wrong thing or trusted the wrong person? How many times did we have faith that something was going to come along to save us but then we found ourselves flat? How many times did we expect the worst and synonymously believe that our predictions were always true?
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Isn’t that Murphy’s Law?
Or wait, no. I think Murphy’s Law states, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and usually at the worst possible time.”
There are emotions we feel, which are less than favorable, and yet, we keep them safe. We keep our fears in a more pristine condition than say, the ideas of hopefulness or pleasure. There are times when we nurture the things we don’t want more than the things we do — ever determining the path we take will never change and ever proving our own predictions are fact because we led them to be.
Of course, if there were a button, I would push it. If there was a button that stopped fear or rage; if there was a button that wiped away insecurity and shame — I would push it. If there was a button that could rid the mind of our mistakes or, especially, if there was a button that could erase the regrets or the times we spoke out of anger and said things we wished we hadn’t — I would push it.
There are times when I see friendships that I’ve lost or there are family connections that have been severed, and when I look at them, I think about the things that were said before the split. I think about the arguments. I think about the feelings. I think about the way I reacted, which was either my response to the fear of loss or a reaction to my ideas of rejection.
I can see where my triggers are. I can see where my fears were. I understand my insecurity, which, as I think of this is more accurately, “God forbid, anyone in the world sees me as anything less than perfect.” Or, put simply, God forbid someone sees me as undesirable.
Intellectually, I understand that no one is perfect. Intellectually, it is clear that we all make mistakes.
We miss. We fall.
We look the way we look. The sound of our voice is the sound of our voice. Our eyes will always be the same color and our fingerprints will always be the same as they are. yet, people have looked to change this about themselves. We dress the exterior to be more desirable but the interior is always the same. And this is what matters most.
Intellectually, we understand that not everyone will get along. Not everyone has the perfect face or the perfect body, the perfect walk, or the perfect timing. Not everyone has the athletic ability of a champion and not everyone has the intellectual ability of the top minds in the world.
We are not all equal; however, where one excels, another fails, and where someone fails, another will excel. This, of course, is the search for one to find their own greatness, which is not easy.
Although we know this; and although we intellectually understand that most things are never perfect — emotionally, we hurt and we harp. We lament and we weep. We cradle our fears of exposure. We nurture the anxious ideas of being vulnerable and weak, as if there is an imaginary force of people, looking to point out our flaws and laugh.
I can explain it this way.
At first, I was afraid to be the one that didn’t get the joke. Then I was afraid to be the last person to get the joke but ultimately, I was afraid to find out that “I” was the joke.
You will often hear people say, “Oh, now you’re just being paranoid,” which is a delusional projection of a conflict. Or, one could say this is a loop, which plays out like a subconscious program. And again, intellectually speaking, we understand this might not be real but emotionally speaking, the brain doesn’t know the difference if this is real or not. Therefore, we overreact. Our emotions tilt and we see things from an emotional view, which is absent from logic and growing further distant from reality.
If there was a button, we would push it.
And there is a button.
For some, this button comes in a pill form. For some, this button comes in liquid form. For some, this button comes in the form of an action. The determination between good or bad, helpful or not is not applicable because the action speaks for itself.
We have been looking to stop ourselves from the deception of our perception for a long time now. We have been trying to get rid of the false items of our fears and insecurity for as long as we would speak.
And it’s easy to tell someone what to do. It’s easy to give advice. It’s easy enough to suggest that time heals all wounds; especially when the wounds are not yours. But in the fits of our sadness or in the torment of depression and the throes of anxiety, all the mind wants is peace. All we want is to feel better. We want the discomforts to go away. We want the thought machine to stop and the worrying to come to an end.
I always think of a lesson I learned from a very powerful speaker. He talks about a deer in the woods. The deer hears something or senses danger and then runs away. The deer runs until the deer finds safety. And once the deer is safe, the deer goes back to doing whatever it was that a deer will do.
Same as the deer, we are built to survive. We are built to withstand that burst of energy we need to keep us alive — to run away, to find safety, or to protect ourselves. However, we are not built to live on high-alert at all times. The mind cannot take stress like this because we are not built this way. This is draining. This is why we are always looking for something to comfort us. This is why we are always looking for something to placate the mind or alleviate the problem, even if only for a little while.
I have learned the best button for me is to replace my thinking with an action. I have learned that by creating a beneficial action rather than responding to my fears and acting in kind; this has become my button.
I need to push this more and react less (know what I mean?).
And lastly, I am a huge fan of a story once told by a surviving inmate that was sent to Alcatraz. He describes his time in The Hole. He talked about the darkness and the terrible stench of the room. There was a hole in the floor, which is where the prisoners went to the bathroom.
As soon as the inmate was placed in the dark cell, the inmate would drop to his knees and rip one of the shirt buttons from his shirt. Then he would place the button in his thumbnail; as if he were looking to flip a coin. He flipped the button up in the dark air — and then the inmate would search the floor for his button until he found it. After this, the inmate would do this again.
He said, “They took my time. They took my space. They took my light. But I wouldn’t let them take my mind.”
Perhaps I paraphrased a little, but this was his message.
He was right. We are all looking for a button in one way or another. It’s been this way for a long, long time.
Some find it. Others, well, they stay the same. And as I see it, I have to find my button. Otherwise, I’ll just give in to more of the same.