Memories From the Balcony – It All Begins With Belief

I don’t know if I ever thought that any of this would work out for me. Most of all, I never expected life to turn into this, with me being here, right now.
I’m not sure if I believed in myself as a person or the ideas that I could take myself to the next level.
I know what people say when someone doubts themselves all the time.
I know all about the word potential. I used to hear this all the time.
People would tell me about my potential yet none of this ever made sense to me.
Then again, how could it?
To me, this was all a lie or a made up hoax just to get me to walk the line or quit living like I was going to die anyway.

Maybe I was too far gone or unreachable.
At least for the time being, this was absolutely true.

I can remember walking in rooms with chairs that lined up and people sitting in them with their defiant faces, just waiting for their name to be called. Then suddenly, a parole or probation officer came out from behind a door, My memory goes back to this, a person calling out a name while holding a manilla folder in their hand, waving for their person to come and “follow me.”
I’ve been here before.
I’ve had to wait for my name to be called too.

I can remember sitting in mandated classes. I remember having to go to “interview” classes on how to sit and interview for jobs. I knew I was smarter than I was credited for, especially here. But my life was opposite of my talents.

I remember sitting in high school equivalency classes. I hated this.
I recall listening to a teacher who believed she could inspire with positive affirmations.
She was wrong.

I can remember shying away from anything hopeful because, to me, all of this sounded like bleeding-heart bullshit. I didn’t believe you. I didn’t believe me. I didn’t believe in anything.
I certainly didn’t believe that hope was an option or that in spite of my luck which, to be fair, I was absolutely lucky to be alive. I was lucky to be free.
I was lucky to be away from a life that had otherwise left me lifeless. Yet still, there was an absence. There was something missing. There were details in my thinking that always brought me back to the same outcomes. No matter what was in front of me or what I was told (or no matter what people were trying to teach me), I always went back to the same levels of emotion. 

I couldn’t get away from this, from you, from me or from anything. I was trapped in this wheel-like cycle and each time I’d try to redeem myself, I found myself back down at the bottom without understanding why or how.

Sure, I was depressed. How could I not be?
How could I think or feel better when all I thought about was the anticipatory challenges which comes with high-anxiety.
This comes with bouts of shame, worry and the constant fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is going to reveal me and ta-da, just like that, I’ll be naked and afraid again. I’ll be alone, exposed and humiliated once more – just like when I was small and picked on – or just like how I was humiliated in school and wishing I could just disappear or be invisible for a while. Or, once more, just like the time when I learned the meaning of betrayal or felt the hands of trauma.

I know what trauma is.
We used to have lunch together all the time.
Sometimes dinner or maybe we’d catch a matinee.

There is no question anymore, at least not to me.
I know the why’s and the how’s and the reasons for my reactions.
This is what I teach people all the time.
More than just the drinking and more than the drugs or the fascination for things that act like quick little fixes; and more than the habitual demons that boost a rush in our veins to placate the savagery of life or the travesty of justice and more than the urges for instant gratification (so we can forget ourselves for a while), I teach that I live with something that acts as a self-destructive response disorder. In fact, this is what I call it – A Self-Destructive Response Disorder.

I had this mindset that was always reactive to a fault. I was reacting to fears. I was reacting to ideas of blame, shame, fault, guilt and regret. Regret is a big one. I still struggle with this too, by the way. Only, I can say that beyond anything – I have improved beyond measure and more than anything, I am not who I used to be. But ahh, my old friend regret.
We used to play chicken with each other.
And guess who flinched first . . .

I think regret is the biggest bitch of them all. 

I am not shocked when people who see no future go against themselves. I am not surprised when they burn the bridges behind them to light their way.
I am not surprised when people who see no possible outcome resort to self-sabotage or when they believe that there is no life ahead of them. I am not surprised when people smoke their lives down to the filter – they move at a pace of a thousand miles an hour, ready for death like a suicidal soldier.
I understand why it’s the case that no matter what, live fast and bury a pretty corpse. But more, I am not surprised when people who think they’re bound to die anyway, find themselves hooked into a downward spiral and living as if the firing squad will face them the very next day.

What’s the difference right?
We’re going to die anyway . . .
This is why the typical age of gang members dies so young.
It’s predictable, right?
It’s part of the life and culture too.
Unless, of course, we find a way to update thinking and culture, change is neither on the menu nor possible.
Otherwise, death to them is inevitable.

I have always been interested in the convicted. I have always noticed the recidivist, which are those who find themselves in and out of jail or caught in the revolving door, both in and out of prison as if somehow this is another addiction. Yet, it is an addiction. Make no mistake. This is a habit.
This too is a self-destructive response disorder.
This is part of a thought process with an incentivized loop that repeats itself.

I agree with the motto that everything we do is done to regard a thought, a want, a need or a feeling.
We honor our assumptions and predictions as well as our perception – or the deception thereof.

I understand that our emotions are innate, which means this is part of our chemistry. This means that our thinking is set out across common and habitual patterns and pathways and that our chemistry results from the energy of our thinking.
Think well/live well.
Think poorly/live poorly.

I understand that we have biases. We have memories which are not always kind or fair to us.
We have personal prejudice.
We have predictions and both biased and trained expectations.
We have our subjective selves and our historic training that leads our thinking towards a pattern of expectedness.

We project and we assume. We feel and, sometimes, our feelings do not match our surroundings.
Do you know what I mean by this?
For example, the depressed mind or think about depressive thinking that comes when all is well or things are “supposed” to be happy. Things are good. Life is fine yet something’s amiss.
Everyone else seems happy so we mirror this because we don’t want to appear “off” or be wrong because we don’t match the world around us.
Think about the loneliness that comes when people are in the company of others.
Think about the contradiction of terms and how this makes no sense at all.
We can be in the best, most loving company that belongs here on this earth and still, as close as we are, we can literally feel a million miles away. 

I get this.
I say that I get this yet this makes no sense and perfect sense at the same time.

I never thought I would be anywhere other than locked up someplace.
I never thought I would sit in boardrooms nor did I ever expect that people who sat in boardrooms would ever listen to someone like me.
Why would they?
Why would anyone believe in me?
Why would anyone believe in me especially if I never believed in myself?

Hence, if I saw no future then there would be no future.
If I saw nothing to live for then I would have nothing to live for.
I believe; therefore, I was.
I think; therefore, I am.

I don’t know if I thought any of this would ever work out.
I don’t know that I ever believed in anything further than where I was (or who I was). Therefore, just like the recidivist who finds themselves in and out of jail or the person who is locked in the revolving door, I only believed in more of the same.
Or. no different from the habitual eater who claims, “I don’t even eat that much” yet their obesity would suggest otherwise, I found myself in a habitual pattern of life that would never improve because, to the best of my understanding, I could never be anything better than who I was – that is, if I was anything at all.

It takes a lot to shake one’s self from this.
It takes a lot to remove one’s self from the drain of their own degradation and be free from their internal persecution.

But the thoughts . . .
This is the tricker.
Here’s the problem. It’s all in the mind.
It’s all a habit loop or it’s a case of “if this, then that” which equals a biased estimated and predictable outcome; hence, this is why people get caught in the rut that comes out to “more of the same.”

The trick is to break this.
We have to fool the reward system, which is a strange thing to say. Reward,as in a gift, a treat, a personal treasure to appease a moment or solve and quench the right to be valid (or validated).
I say reward which is equally a contradiction because one would ask: How is self-destruction rewarding?
Remember something: Inspiration and motivation are neither positive nor negative. This is only a burst of energy which is in need of direction. This is an answer to a thirst or a scratch to an itch. The reward is food for the validation system and depending upon the thought or the need (or want) our rewards can be something unfortunate because the reward is feeding an unfortunate system.

If everything we do is in honor or in regards to a thought or a want, or a need, then everything we do is neither positive nor negative. This is not about good or bad, right or wrong. Instead, this is about our thinking and honoring our thoughts to achieve an understandable outcome.

Understandable – now that’s a good word.
I can understand why a cut makes me bleed or a bruise makes me hurt because I can see a physical representation of this. But broken hearts, depression, letdowns and anxiety do not always come with physical representation; so therefore, we facilitate actions that match our assumptions and feelings. We hurt ourselves. We drink. We eat. We act out. We pick a fight. We do things that help make sense of our discomfort.

Self-harm makes sense because the pain and the result of our self-harm is enough to explain the depths of our feelings. This is why people paint themselves in a corner. This is why we self-sabotage.
This is why we react or we respond in ways to honor or regard our thinking, needs, feelings and emotions. 

All we want is for our life to make sense.
But life doesn’t make sense.
So, we try to find an explanation; therefore, so long as we have a feeling or discomfort, we want to find out why. We need to find accountability. We just want to understand to keep this from ever happening again but in our haste to let go, we hold on too long. In turn, we take on more damage and believe this was deserved.

Sure, I’ve been lost. Sure, I’ve been hopeless.
I believed that I was out of place.
I believed that I was unworthy.
I believed in my own sad degradations so this became who I was. 

I have always been interested in working out a plan to help people redirect their thinking and find a new incentive – but without belief and without the faith that there is another way of life, it is impossible to teach someone to believe especially if they do not believe in anything other than what they know. 

I was told about this word called truth.
I know this now but for a long time my truth wasn’t true at all.
This was all a lie.

I lived according to assumptions and biases that were based on issues with shame and humiliation.
In fairness, all we want is to be free.
All we want is to be happy and comfortable.
All we want is to be at peace and feel good –
But our beliefs teach us that this is out of reach; therefore, in fear that old patterns will absolutely repeat themselves, we live in the patterns of our past which dooms us to repeat.

We try so hard to escape our past that we literally create thoughts that keep us in our emotional history – this is why we doom ourselves to more of the same

Change your thinking/change your behavior/change your outcomes/change your life!

Sure, I wanted to be happy.
But what’s the difference if I could never believe otherwise?
This goes beyond the typical labels or rejection-sensitive disorders or imposter syndrome.
This goes deeper into the hardwired mind which does nothing else but calculates and assumes, divides and conquers one’s self on a daily basis.  

I am the square root to my own equation.
So are you.

We are either our own best friend and hero or –
We are our worst enemy and critic.
The choice to succeed and achieve beyond this is literally ours.
But first, we have to trick our belief system to prove that this can happen.

Um, Mr. Kimmel?”
Over here.

“Come with me, please.”
Door closed behind me as I walked down a hall.
The little man in front of me wore brown orthopedic shoes.
He had bad breath which reeked from coffee.
His clothes were outdated at best and he had a bad comb-over hairstyle

“So, Mr. Kimmel. You have one more year of this. Have you given much thought to what you want to do with your life?”

I was about 19 then. I was three years in to a four year probation after completion of long-term treatment.
I had a new charge on my jacket. The charge was Assault II, a felony.

It took me a while to learn how to get away from myself.
In a million years though . . .
I never thought that people in the same position as this man who was my probation officer would ever refer to someone like me for advice or guidance.

Life changes the moment we believe that change is possible.
Because if we don’t believe, anything else is just bullshit.
It’s all a lie. 

And do you know what?
I believe that . . .

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