There is a question that has been asked and pondered upon by countless writers, poets and artists alike.
What have I done?
This question poses an honest look at life. And I mean real life. What have I done?
What did I do and why?
The question is simple enough. What have I done?
But understanding the question is not the answer. However, to answer the question we have to understand the “Why” behind the question itself.
There are different moods behind this question too. In fact, I feel it is important to understand this because as a matter of fact, there are words we use that are influenced by emotion an moods. So, from here on, we can break down the question to create a simpler view.
There are different ways we can pose this question to ourselves. What have I done, as if to ask, what I have done with my life? Or what have I done to the people I love or the people in my family? What have I done with my work life? What have I done to my friendships?
We can ask ourselves what have I done, as in why do we say what we don’t mean or mean what we don’t say?
And here we are on the other side of the aftermath. Our previous world is only history now. In the wake of our disputes are the irreversible words that we used or perhaps the low-blows or passive/aggressive insults that left behind an unhealable wound. And now what?
What have I done, right?
Awareness comes late to the game. And that’s the problem, right? There we are with that question again.
What have I done?
What have I done to my family? What have I done to myself? The question alone is simple. The question is almost standard. What have I done?
Why did I react the way I did and where did this come from? Is this my training? Have I created my behaviors on behalf of my biases, which lead me towards habitual and trained responses?
This is the “Why” behind the question.
The meaning and the mood behind the questions we ask ourselves can vary in more ways than we can imagine. However, I find rest in the fact that although I have said things or done something hurtful, of course, I had no idea about the undertones. I didn’t know about the backgrounds nor did I ever know that the outcomes or the aftermaths would be as insurmountable as they are. I am certainly accountable and more so, I am responsible to learn and understand the “Why” behind the question.
What have I done?
I know there is inventory behind the reasons we speak.
I know that anger can be blinding. I know that discomfort is uncomfortable and therefore; there are times when we are not at our best. There are times when I have fired off the missiles of insults and hit below the belt. And I know why too. This was a reaction.
I know this doesn’t make anything right. I know that although there are reasons behind behavior; reasons do not absolve accountability. Instead, awareness means we are obliged to understand our inventory. This allows us an understanding, which allows us the ability to answer the question.
What have I done? Saying, “Well what do you expect? Look where I came from,” is a lazy answer. This does not absolve us from our wrongs nor does this wipe away the violations of our insults.
Not at all.
Why have I done this?
Next comes awareness. Next comes the improvement of our personal levels of consciousness, which allows us the ability to understand who we are and why we’ve behaved the way we have. By the way, this inevitably leads us towards the benefit of personal freedom because once we understand ourselves, then we can learn to navigate away from old and unwanted behaviors.
I have chosen to list the exact nature of my wrongs on different occasions. I know what I did. I know who I did this too. I know about my fears and my reactions to my uncomfortable self.
I understand why I misspoke or why I argued or fought back. I also understand that after the words are the aftermath. I have learned from this.
I have learned that my aftermaths have not always been the desirable outcomes; therefore, I had to learn to change my behavior. I had to learn a different level of understanding and that yes, in fact, my perception has often been misled by my trained and programmed biases.
I found myself caught in a misallocation of priorities.
I was lost to say the least. And yet, I knew exactly where I was
I knew why too.
What have I done?
Why did I do this?
I have heard this question answered several times before. And the lazily so; whether we are being emotional or spiritually lazy, we answer the question with a simple, “I don’t know.”
But we do know.
We always know.
It’s not that we don’t know. Perhaps we might lack the ability to explain ourselves. Perhaps we might not have the word or the language to tell someone. But do not be fooled. We know the answer.
Why did you do that?
Saying “I don’t know.” is a lie.
Unless, of course, we lack the determination to loom within, then I get it. We don’t know because understanding takes patience and learning, in which case, this takes effort on our part. So rather than put in the work, we say the easiest thing. “I don’t know.”
That’s lazy . . .
The answers are simple and come from within.
Our reasoning is perhaps emotionally based. Maybe we looked to honor a need or a thought. Maybe we were honoring the discomfort of an old memory. Maybe we were honoring a painful concern. Either way, everything we do is done to honor something.
When we yell, what does this honor?
Removing the ideas of right or wrong, what does yelling at someone honor?
Well, of course there is the obvious. Perhaps there was an injustice. Maybe there was an insult, which we took to heart and created the end result of emotion, which is a chemical reaction.
Of course, we all have our own specific brands of history. We have our own cultures. We have our backgrounds and personal training, biases, and subconscious programs, which we follow because we have been trained to live this way. Seldom is the problem of what was said and more often; the challenge is our interpretation. We internalize and personalize. We compartmentalize and we assign our opinions and connections to past occurrences, instances and memories.
This is us at the core by the way and perhaps this is a bit deeper than something that can be explained in a few short paragraphs. Nevertheless, we have our reasons behind everything.
We have fears. We have concerns about past regrets and violations. The truth is we live so deeply in the past that we assign our futures to be almost repetitive.
I know who I am. And because this is true, it would be inaccurate to say that I do not know why I’ve done what I’ve done or said what I’ve said. The answer is not always easy to face, which is why it is easier to say, “I don’t know.”
As a matter of fact, sometimes the answer is so painfully immature and juvenile, we say “I don’t know” because we know the answer is silly and embarrassing. We know the truth can be humiliating.
Control is a big thing. We can’t fix it. We can’t control it. We can’t change it. So what do we do?
We yell. We freak out. We react or maybe we overreact.
Point noted and understood.
This is me. This is one of my flaws.
Control. I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. So what have I done? I was afraid and my fears connected with old patterns and opinions. So what did I do?
I have sabotaged myself. I have behaved in self-destructive ways. And why? Because I had an uncontrollable instance, which led me towards the chemical result of emotion, which changed I felt, which was uncomfortable, which is why I reacted in a certain way to honor my discomfort. This is the reasons behind my behavior.
I have learned that more than what I’ve done are the reasons behind what I did.
Learn what you are honoring and then learn new ways to honor these discomforts. This is a great way to find change within us. This is how we can improve. This is how we can overcome insecurity by honestly addressing ourselves and our concerns as well as learning ways to prevent the deception of our perception from leading us into the murky waters of arguments and insults.
My biggest and strongest lesson: Don’t be afraid to stand up and walk away from the table. Do not be afraid to look within. Be honest with yourself. Learn and understand. Once we realize why we behave the way we do, we can learn to change our behaviors and hence, we will never have to look back at our past with an unfortunate contempt and ask ourselves, “What have I done?”
Note to self:
It’s time to look within.
No judgement. Just education.
You are more incredible than you could possibly imagine.