There will always be someone to tell you what to do or how to do it. And I swear, life has funny moments which are not so funny.
There are times when we overreact and drive ourselves crazy, like when a person can misplace something and they’ll swear that they left it in the same place as always. Meanwhile, someone must have moved it. Right? Or, maybe someone stole it. That could be it too.
Until they find it in a place where they left it and realized they placed the item, which is usually a cell phone in an unusual spot and lo and behold; there it is. Now they are faced with the consequences of their silly overreactions.
I use this as a funny, yet simple, example because I have seen this and yes, I have misplaced items in my life. And yes. I’ve suspected that someone came along and moved or took my things. And yes, I experienced that moment of awareness when I noticed my immaturity came along for the ride.
However, in our mad race to find a misplaced item or to navigate through a troubled time, there will always be someone who comes along with something to say.
I’ve lost things and at the same time, I’ve had someone ask me, “Well, where’d you leave it?”
I’ve been in car accidents and while standing at the side of my car to inspect the damage, I’ve had a person approach and ask, “Did you hit something?”
(By the way, comedian Bill Engvall has a brilliantly lighthearted take on experiences like this.)
There’s always going to be someone around to offer advice at the wrong time. I am sure that by now, we have all heard unsolicited advice at the worst of times.
By now, we’ve all met someone who comes along to point out the obvious. It wouldn’t be real life without this.
I have never been a fan of catchy slogans that are intended to keep things simplified. The truth is simplicity can often be complicated. The solution itself is not the complicated part. However, understanding something from an intellectual nature is not the same to our emotional nature.
This means that intellectually, we understand why or how something happened. But emotionally, we still feel and so long as we feel, we want to know why or we look to assign blame or fault.
There is a popular prayer that has been around the 12-Step communities and self-help worlds for a very long time. The prayer asks for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.
For the record, it is often the last part of the prayer that is where we struggle – it’s the wisdom to know the difference. And there we are, trying to control or fix something that is beyond our ability or beyond our scope of work.
There are countless speakers and gurus and wellness experts. There are videos and webinars and retreats where the curriculum is based on the ideas of what to do when you don’t know what to do.
I have seen people spend unthinkable amounts of money, just to feel better yet in the end, something was amiss.
The science of recovery can be packaged in different ways. This can be set up with different modalities.
There are different facilities around the world whose goal is to offer the best way to recover or feel better. However, there is no “One Way” to recovery. There is no set pattern that works for everyone.
Or say we find ourselves at a retreat to lose weight. Let’s say this retreat advertises that they guarantee success and that by following their program they guarantee a significant weight loss. They’ll say this works for everyone and they’ll mean it too.
Let’s put two people in this atmosphere. One is a believer of their religion and the other is an atheist. Let’s say the curriculum is heavily based on prayer and religious principles.
Safe to say the religious one might have an easier time with this process; whereas, the atheist would move away from this experience because the information wouldn’t be relatable.
I go back to our personal pathology or science. This is where the process begins. Understanding language and the details of a program or an action plan is crucial to our success. If we want to change or if we want to improve, we have to find a process that is understandable to us as an individual.
Or, let’s look at this from another angle. Let’s take someone who has hit their bottom. Let’s look at someone who is far from their best potential. Or, say we find someone in the midst of heartache. They’re in the middle of a great loss and they’re at their worst.
They want to quit. They want to give up. And at the same time, they know that they can’t quit or walk away. But dammit all! Life is tough.
What do people say at times like this?
You can’t quit!
Don’t give up!
And whatever you do, don’t stop!
All of the above are great and none of the above are intended to be hurtful. However, there are times when the pain hurts too much. There are times when all you want to do is take a breath. You need a break. You want everything around you to just pause. Just for a minute.
You want the world to stop but nothing stops. The clock keeps turning and meanwhile, you’re in the center of your pain – or you can’t see the forest from the tree and what happens? Someone comes along with a caring sentiment and unsolicited advice.
There are times when we are going to want to scream and yell. There are times when our frustration is like a runaway train that doesn’t stop – it just keeps chugging along. No mercy.
The pistons keep pumping and the thoughts keep churning. You scream and you shout. Or you spit and you curse.
And people will ask you, “Hey, are you okay?”
And you’ll think to yourself, “No, I’m not okay!”
“Do I look like I’m okay?”
But this is life, right?
So, rather than say what we think or feel, we put on our brave face and stiffen our upper lip.
We say, “Yeah, I’m fine.” Meanwhile, we are anything but fine.
Being strong can be tiresome. Of course, times like this are when someone comes along and says “God only gives us what we can handle,” to which I’ve said, “Well, he needs to stop having so much faith in me!”
There are countless people who I’ve met that would be fine to be a little weaker and just happy. In fact, there are times in life where I would sign up for this too.
I am not a religious person and, therefore, this is not intended to be a religious text. However, my aim is to outline the language we use and how at times, the language we use is not as helpful as we intend it to be.
I will be honest and explain that there are moments in our life when the rollercoaster has too many ups and downs. There’s too many dips and turns and the speed is too fast.
There will be times when we scream “STOP THE RIDE” because we want to get off. But this is life. There is no getting off. The wheels on the bus go round and round.
Nothing stops and there is no “Wait a minute.”
There’s only the next turn.
They say that to find peace we have to make peace within ourselves.
To stop the ride, we have to stop perpetuating the ride – or, we have to stop volunteering ourselves from getting back on line and thinking, “Maybe it’ll be different this time.”
I am a firm believer that, oftentimes, we don’t know what to do. I believe there are times when our emotions hit a breaking point.
We break down. We hit the wall or we’ve tripped over the same problems or banged our heads in the same spots.
And we get pissed too. But who are we pissed at?
The world? Or are we pissed at ourselves?
Are we pissed at ourselves because we keep tripping over the same things and we keep hitting our head in the same places?
You might ask yourself, “When am I going to learn?”
There will always be someone who comes along to point out the obvious. There will always be someone who has their opinion. There will always be someone who tells you what to do or how to handle something.
But . . .
Maybe you already know what to do.
Maybe you just don’t want to do it.
Maybe you’re hurting.
Or, maybe you want to quit. You want to stop the ride. Or you want to get off.
Maybe you want to stop the game and you want to take your toys and go home. Or, maybe you’re tired. And that’s just it. You had a bad day.
Nothing worked. Nothing seems hopeful and you climb back into this pattern in your head – and you try and you try. You think and you think until you hit your wit’s end and then someone comes along to tell you what to do.
It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to want to jump and yell or scream.
And it’s okay if you want to shout. But understand something, every action has a reaction or a consequence. If we yell or if we overreact, some of these reactions and consequences will not be favorable.
It’s okay not to be okay.
There was a call I received while volunteering for a hotline. This person was looking to kill themselves. They were told what to do and how to feel. They were told to keep moving and to keep their chin up.
Don’t quit, and blah, blah, blah.
Meanwhile, this person was not comfortable anymore. They were too distant from the people around them, including their family.
This person told me, “I just don’t think I can do this anymore!”
I never said what to think or how to feel. I did not pressure this person to think or feel differently. Instead, this person was allowed to say, think, or feel what they wanted.
If life to them was a trap then I did not want to entrap them or trick them into listening. Instead, I wanted them to have the freedom to talk openly.
We came to an agreement.
They talked. I listened.
They vented to me and as agreed, I absorbed their information. There was no fixing. There were no helpful suggestions or catchy slogans like, “Hang in there, buddy!”
No. This was a case of a person who was too frustrated to think clearly.
We talked for quite a while. We set up a plan and an emergency outlet. I remember hearing from this person’s mother because it was her who suggested using me as a specialist.
This person is alive and well and doing fine.
Together, we found that the pressure to think and feel as other people say is often an unfitting dialogue.
Together, we learned that the most valuable conclusions we come to are those that we come to on our own.
We can listen and we can be told what to do or how. But unless we come to a point where we internally understand, the information on how to feel better can be too foreign to comprehend.
Sometimes in life, there are no right words to say.
Sometimes, listening is the best remedy.
Sometimes the hardest thing to find is the right person to talk to.
And . . .
sometimes we fight.
We know this doesn’t help.
But yet, we argue anyway.
The truth is we’re just frustrated.
We’re tired of being “strong” or so they say.
Maybe we don’t want to trip over the same things or hit our head anymore.
Maybe it’s just that simple . . .