I have a situation.
A big one.
One that triggers me so deeply it is easy for me to become the worst of myself.
And my worst is pretty intense.
I’m an intense woman, I feel big. I think big. I act big.
It took time, and discipline to move past those immature ways of thinking, acting, being. It was an on-purpose decision. Because I didn’t want to be sad, bitter, and resentful as I aged. See when I would read I actually believed in the wisdom of others. And I read things that talked about emotional maturity. Books and articles that spoke about anger, bitterness. I learned what others experienced and how they found peace by CHOOSING another way to act from whatever they were dealing with. And I believed them. And it was the right choice. Looking back on the ways I’ve decided to grow and learning has made my life so much better. I have more joy, more energy, more life.
And yet I have this thing.
This huge situation that, without getting into the details, I have almost no outer control of. I’m a bystander in a lot of ways. I’m a witness to this situation that, at times, makes me want to pull my hair out because of how little control I have over what is going on. This thing can bring me to my knees and everything I have learned about forgiveness, love, compassion, and understanding goes right out the fucking window.
Now everyone gets angry. And anger is a very helpful, adaptive, emotion when it is managed correctly. But I’m not talking about anger. I’m talking about burn it all down rage, not anger.
I get angry at work. I breathe in, I breathe out. I find understanding and I move on. It is what it is - all is well.
But when this situation shows itself I can breathe for 30 minutes and still want to burn it all to the ground. I am seemingly incapable of finding understanding and I don’t give a shit about compassion. I just want to destroy the situation.
But it is what it is right? All is well?
I have said that before to others at times in an attempt to be helpful and shift focus on what is more in that person’s control. But telling that to myself really pisses me off. It sometimes feels like the most unhelpful thing to say (another lesson I am learning about myself). I am, however, very fortunate to have a few things that I have built for myself that keep me from acting like the lunatic I want to when this situation shows up.
Amazing relationships with emotionally mature people.
Tremendous self-awareness and the learned ability to see my faults
A concrete never doubted decision that I WILL create my best fucking life and I KNOW that means not acting out from my emotions like a child.
The decision that feelings are not facts. And they never will be.
Let’s look at each.
You are the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Have you heard this before? It is #truth. Who you decide to engage with makes a tremendous impact on who you show up to be. You internalize the attitudes and habits and most importantly - the MINDSET of the people you are closest to.
I have surrounded myself with amazing people. All the close people in my life are self-aware. They believe a person can grow and change. They trust and work towards understanding, emotional maturity, and personal responsibility.
This means when I’m being a crazy bitch, they tell me. Because they love me. Because they know that isn’t who I want to be either and that for a moment I’ve just lost my way.
Sometimes they tell me by giving me the space to vent so I can be aware, on my own, of my crazy-assedness. Sometimes it’s by flat out saying, I don’t think that’s helpful Jennie. I’ve even gotten a “calm the hell down” before. :)
Sometimes it comes from their silence. They just don’t engage when they feel I’ve flown off the rails and they know (just as I will when I calm down) that continuing to talk about it is no longer helpful.
Most importantly they forgive me for losing my way. They know that isn’t who I want to show up as and know that I will right myself and that I will get back to balance. And they let me do that without judgment. Without ridicule. I’m sure they are thinking I’ve walked off the deep end, but they let me swim back to the surface and help me out of the water. And they remember what they love about me.
If you don’t have at least one person like this in your life your I encourage you to search to find one. It is the single greatest thing you can give yourself. I’m very grateful that I have them with me.
Second, I’m self-aware. I have walked through what some call, the dark night of the soul, and have stared “nakedly at my inadequacies” as Tom Bilyeu would say.
This is hard stuff guys, I know where I am weak. I understand when I’m at my worst. I know what my worst is. I have swallowed the humility pill and it was a massive pill to swallow. It was a long, painful process of no longer blaming other people and things for the issues in my life. It was owning the fact that I don’t do everything right. It’s knowing about myself that I can sound, think, and act; arrogant, self-righteous, and sarcastic. It was learning about myself how competitive I was and how that can help me - and hurt me if I don’t keep that shit in check.
It was about looking at the problems I have had in my life and asking myself how I helped contribute to them. Which is a really hard thing to do. It is so easy to point the finger and blame something, someone, for what you are dealing with. And the worst part is you might be right to a point. But it doesn’t matter - nothing happens in a vacuum and you are still a participant in your life. You bring something to every table you sit at.
I don’t say this lightly guys, I get it. There are things in our lives that happen that we have zero control of. But to take this kind of self-inquiry isn’t about victim shaming, it’s to learn. It’s to look at your past and pull out of it everything of value that you can. So you can create awesomeness going into the future.
The important thing to know with this is that it is learned. I didn’t come into the world with the ability to just be self-aware. It was a deliberately decided on learned skill. I decided to become more aware. I learned enough to recognize the value of being more aware and then set about on the task of making it happen. So that means you can do this too. And you will benefit from it.
Our society is swimming with references to NOT be aware. If you watch television, you are watching non-aware relationships explode at their best. Our movies and dramas show this and if you aren’t paying attention you can get tricked into thinking that you are the victim in your life.
Self-awareness reminds you that you are not. You are the victor of your life - if you chose to be.
Like everything it is a deliberate choice. You decide to work on self-awareness and then you work on getting better at it. It’s really that simple.
I can’t overstate how important this is. Like your closest relationships, having this relationship with yourself creates a new way of living for your future. If you are interested in learning more about how to get started with this check out my post about meditation. It’s a great place to start.
The next two points feed into each other but I need both to pull myself out of dark places sometimes. The most important thing about each of these points though is that they are both full-on decisions. It’s not something I feel guys. It is something I have just decide is true and so I act based on that.
The first decision was that I was going to live my best life. Like for reals, come hell or high water, I will OWN my life. I will LIVE MY life.
What does that mean?
For a long while it meant I wanted to be “happy”. I have since decided that I want to be fulfilled. When I focused on “happy” I was still laying in bed at night with this empty hollow feeling in my chest and that was what I was trying to get rid of.
When it was happiness I was trying to create I felt like I needed to enjoy everything, and that’s just not possible. Fulfillment takes more than just joy. It takes sacrifice. And sacrifice includes things you DON’T like. One night, I decided I was going to do whatever I needed to do to feel fulfilled. And doing whatever it takes means learning how to not be emotionally immature and act like a child.
I can’t stress this enough - it was a decision. I decided.
And I could make that decision because of point number four. I KNOW that feelings are not facts.
If you are aware of cognitive behavior then you may have heard this phrase before. It’s a very common cognitive distortion. It’s when we believe what we are feeling is real even when it is not.
Some quick examples:
You said something to someone that you feel offended them when in fact they didn’t even really notice it was said.
Someone said something to you that YOU feel offended by and actually they were coming from a completely different intention.
You are running late for an appointment and your anxiety makes you believe that the other person will be upset that you are tardy when in fact they were enjoying the time waiting for you.
All these little things that our feelings make us believe are true and they are NOT. Feelings are NOT facts.
You should trust your instincts, you should listen to your intuition. But feelings are NOT facts. They will never be facts. They will always be just feelings. Sometimes your feelings will be accurate. Often, they are not.
When you have these four things you are set up for amazing things in your life.
And these are the four things I use when my situation comes up. And each one of these points helps me right my ship and get control over what I’m thinking. And then I can change how I’m feeling.
And then I CAN find compassion, understanding, and love. I can look at the situation and find the ways it can help me grow more - even though I absolutely don’t FEEL like it. Because feelings aren’t facts, and despite how I feel what I want is to be my best. To show up as my best self because I know in doing that I’m creating the path that will lead me to the greatest fulfillment. Which is my goal.
I’m sharing this today because it helps me feel more authentic with y’all.
Guys, I’m not perfect.
I struggle on big issues still. I don’t always say the “right” things or even “do” the right things.
Sometimes the petty, child-like responses still sneak out. And then I have to eat it and apologize and look at myself in the mirror and take that “mistake” and learn more about myself and my life through it.
And that helps me get better for next time.
The best part?
I feel fulfilled when I’m in bed at night. I fall asleep, not always “happy” with my day, but always feeling like I did my best, that I had meaning and that I can keep going down my path. That’s what makes it worth it.
And these are decisions. Choices.
So take the time to make your decisions y’all. Make your choices.