Something we seldom realize is the word never is a really long time. So is always and certainly, so is forever. So are the ideas we think, which we assume will last forever, like say, the heartbreak we feel during our first crush. Or think about the moments of humiliation. Think about the times we were hurt or embarrassed to the point we never thought we would get over it and we promised ourselves, “I am never going through that again.”
I am sure there are countless times we have all said, “I’m never going to do that again!” and yet, mysteriously, never only seems to last a few days.
I remember the first time I snuck out with the boys and we drank from a whiskey bottle to prove we were cool. I can say that yes, I swore I was never drinking again. I can say that yes, I swore this to God and all that was holy.
I can say that I was as sick as sick could be. I can say that at the time, I had to hold my hand against the wall to stop the world from spinning. I swore it.
I swore I would never drink again. But never was never too long and the next night out, there I was, back at it again.
I say this as a funny example. But the word never has nothing to do with drinking. More to the point, the word never has more to do with our emotional attachments.
There was a time when I messed up. I tried to save my face but at the time, this is when I learned one of the most unforgettable lessons of all. You can’t save your face and your ass at the same time. I learned this the hard way. I learned this and swore that I will never have the chance to redeem myself. I swore that I would always be underneath the weight of guilt and shame. I swore that this would last forever. And there they are again. There are those words, always, never and forever.
We tend to cling on to things as if this makes up our true identity. We tend to hold on to our mistakes without the realization and understanding that we are the ones that make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make us. Forever is a long time. So is always and so is never. I always thought I would feel the way I did when I made the worst mistakes. I never thought I would get from behind this and I thought these mistakes would haunt me forever. I was wrong.
We hold ourselves in this pattern of thinking. We create biases and assumptions based on our emotional responses to our outcomes, which can be good, bad or otherwise. We adapt them to our feelings and concerns. We have an agenda, which we attach ourselves to and an outcome we look to reach.
It’s not the outcome as much as our emotional attachment to our outcomes. It is our emotions that set the stage. Yet, emotions are neither fact or fiction. Emotions are only the end result of a circumstance, experience or a lesson. Emotions are innate. They do not think logically or strategically. In fact, there is no logic. There is only emotion and our attachment to them. Not all thinking or emotions are problematic. However, when they become problematic, the need to create a new pathway of thinking is key to our emotional recovery.
The logic brain operates very differently. There are only goals, plans and a strategy to achieve them. There is no fear here. There is no intimidation. There is only the work.
Think about a long screw for example. The screw is not intimidated by the wood. The screwdriver is not afraid of turning the screw. Instead, the only emotion is the operator achieving the job. But what if the screw breaks? What if the screwdriver is not the right fit and the job is not optimal, but yet, in a moment of haste and urgency, the operator tried to force the two to fit and meet the challenge? Does the tool or the hardware feel shame? Or is it the operator that suffers from the frustration that the task did not come out properly?
Emotions tend to disrupt our ability to compartmentalize our feelings. This will often disrupt our ability to reach our best potential. This can disrupt our day and then of course, there are the other frustrations that come along. We somehow align our performance with our ability. In this case, our losses become us. We become our mistakes and as a result, we tend to create biases that limit our abilities.
“I do not have to bring my report card home anymore.”
Think about this line. think about what this says.
I do not have to work for outside approval.
My life is not subject to anyone’s judgement anymore.
This is us giving ourselves the permission to realize that we made it through this part of our life. We do not have to sit at the cool table or find a clique or be at the water cooler, talking about others so we can feel better about ourselves.
We store these biases and we create our subconscious programs from the lessons we are taught. And the lessons we are taught have nothing to do with right or wrong or accurate or inaccurate. Oftentimes, we learn lessons from inappropriate teachers. And this goes way back to where we begin.
Here’s a funny thought:
I laugh when thinking about my early lessons on romance. The lessons I learned were and still are, in fact, barbaric to say the least. I am not proud of these lessons but then again, my teachers were inappropriate people. And it’s not like I learned any of these lessons from Romeo or Shakespeare.
I learned from guys named Crazy Victor from Southside and Johnny the Rug who referred to all girls as “Chicks,” and whose height of romantic statements is “Ay-Oh, your girl is hooking up with my boy so that means you gotta hook up with me now!”
By the way, this is much funnier when heard in Johnny the Rug’s voice because A) he meant it and B) he really thought he was being smooth.
I expose my idiocy and the crazy friends of my youth in jest but in fairness, there is something behind this. We learn lessons from our young life up to our adult life. We are always learning and always adding up the lessons we tally to become pertinent to our existence. Sometimes we base our lessons on misunderstandings. Sometimes we learn from our misperceptions. We base our judgements on this. We are given an idea from our youth about what life is supposed to be like.
We are taught about manhood and womanhood and what our plans and path are supposed to look like. We hold ourselves to standards which can be unrealistic or unfitting for us. And, until we allow ourselves to create a new, malleable existence, without the rigidness of our old biased training; until we learn to challenge our assumptions and disconnect from our subconscious programs – we find ourselves repeating a cycle. We find ourselves stuck in the habitual belief system and thought pattern, which leads us to feel similarly and living with the same outcomes.
A long time ago, I was told if you only do what you’ve always done then you’ll only get what you’ve always got.
And I get this now. I suppose it was difficult for me to hear this back then.
Change is an uncomfortable process when we hold ourselves to biased expectations. Besides, it’s not the change that is so uncomfortable to begin with. The discomfort is the change in our routine. The discomfort is the fear of the unknown or fears of failure and that somehow failures, uncertainties and vulnerabilities will show cracks in our façade and imperfections in our identity.
I used to believe that I was always going to live a certain lifestyle. I never thought I would reach a significant level of success. Then again, my definition of success was taught to me by inappropriate teachers that projected their ideas and me, I took this in as if their lessons were law. Meanwhile, I did not like my teachers to begin with.
There is nothing wrong with challenging our assumptions. There is nothing wrong with questioning our path or the life we want to live. There is nothing wrong with change either. There is nothing wrong with us at all. The challenges are our attachments and the connections we keep between our subconscious bias and trained behaviors. Therefore, we often give into distractions and intimidation because we are attached to the fear of unwanted outcomes that somehow depict our identity. What about loss? What about losing someone in our life? What does this mean for our future?
Where do these questions exist? How does this help us achieve our goals?
In answer to this, first, this only exists in the mind and this is only as real as we believe it to be. And secondly, any limitation in our mind will always be a roadblock to interrupt our achievements.
We have to learn how to turn obstacles into opportunity. Challenge the biases we have been trained to believe. There’s a great big world out there with fruit just ripe for the picking. However, the choice to reach for this is up to us.
So reach for it . . .