As someone who spent most of my life trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be, understanding my motivations for change is vital.
You’re unlikely to question a need for change until new information brings awareness.
Your current core philosophies may initially prevent you from examining the very things you might address.
We receive input constantly: consciously / unconsciously, solicited / unsolicited, and internally / externally. This can come in many forms like disease, a recommended book, or from another person.
Feedback from another person may be the hardest to decipher.
A person’s feedback is subject to the law of small numbers; yet this one person may be the only person willing to tell you the truth. Be mindful their truth is based on their experiences, preferences and state of mind which influences how they’ve experienced you.
Just think back to the number of times you’ve asked advice from several people you trust. It is likely they all gave different suggestions.
You may experience a person giving you feedback being contradictory or even hypocritical, that doesn’t mean their feedback is wrong. It simply means they are human. Any examined life is full of contradictions.
It’s valid to ask, “who are they to give me feedback anyway? Why does their opinion about my life matter?” I can say the times I have surrendered the guidance of a trusted teacher, I experienced change I didn’t know was possible.
Determining if you “need to change” should be a unilateral decision rooted in a sense of who YOU want to be.. And change might not be necessary at all. The situations you are in might not be a fit for the life you want to live. Maybe you are just unwilling to admit it.
Here some things I’ve learned so far:
Be open to change.
Love yourself and others how they are. We will all change over time anyway.
Be selective in the information you “listen to”. Realize all, even “positive” change, has tradeoffs.
Understand that something not being a fit for you is not the same as something is wrong with you.
Question if your behaviors are harming or hindering yourself or others.
“Joy for human beings lies in proper human work. And proper human work consists in: acts of kindness to other human beings, disdain for the stirrings of the senses , identifying trustworthy impressions, and contemplating the natural order and all that happens in keeping with it.” – Marcus Aurelius
I’m pretty sure the it isn’t supposed to be this way. Another 10 days passed by. I hardly remember being in California last week.
If I knew God, I’d as ask if this was the direction they intended; all this human work to what end.
I feel I’m on the right path, but I find myself exhausted.
I will count myself lucky to live 10,000 more days. Have I even stopped consider what I want to do with them?
I want to be a good partner and friend.
I want to set a good example for my niece and nephew so they don’t make the same mistakes I do.
I want to be a good leader to those who look to me for leadership.
I want to be a kind person.
Maybe I’ll write a book or three.
Maybe I’ll find a way to make recovery, therapy and yoga accessible to all.
But here I lay unsure. I’ve emptied the tank once again, but to what end?
This feels a lot like the next day when the hangover really hurts and you say, “I’m done drinking,” and after awhile you forget the low, and you are right back going through the motions.
Maybe I writing this so I won’t forget.
Marcus writes, “You must build up your life action by action…” I just pray I take right action more often than wrong and form patterns they are healthy and sustainable for the long run.
Thanks for letting me share.
I am a Southerner.
I was raised in Harrison, Georgia, a rural town of about 500 people; median income $18,125 in today’s dollars. I was bused 1.5 hours up and down dirt roads, every day, to go to school in the county seat, Sandersville. The dream of most families was for their kids to work in the kaolin (chalk) mines.
I never felt like I fit in. I didn’t want to hunt. I didn’t want to play football on Thanksgiving. I wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons, ride my skateboard, and play on the computer.
I have two degrees in chemistry from southern universities, Georgia College and the University of Florida. I received amazing educations at both. But I also taught myself how to drink myself to oblivion. Whiskey and college football parties became a way for me to leave behind who I used to be and become who I thought everyone wanted me to be. My need to fit in and please others led me down a path of addiction and sickness over the next 20 years of my life.
I came to Atlanta in my 30s to pursue a career in tech. My alcoholism was very public, my drug addiction hidden in the shadows. I worked night and day improving my coding skills and networking while teaching high school. I was recruited by a startup to be a software developer.
In August 2013, I co-founded The Bitter Southerner with Chuck Reece, Kyle Tibbs-Jones, and Dave Whitling. I had just entered recovery for my drug addiction yet my identity was still bound to drinking whiskey. Seems I still needed to reconcile my own definition of what it meant to be a Southerner.
In March of 2016, I joined Atlanta-based SalesLoft and my life would change forever. Today I am 820 days completely sober and surrounded by the love of friends and coworkers. No booze, no drugs required.
Most Southerners are not as lucky as me. Addiction and substance abuse are tearing this region apart. There are no resources to help or educate. People don’t even know things can be different from what they have always known.
I don’t think it’s just a Southern thing. I think it’s a human thing. But this is where I am from, and this is where I live, and this is where I can make an impact.
I think it has to start with changing hearts and minds.
I will not let the pattern continue.
I believe in a Better South for my niece and nephew.
I hope you’ll consider supporting us at the Bitter Southerner: https://bsgeneralstore.com/pages/membership
Intending on taking a weekend off from drinking, I’d find myself sitting at the bar around 4pm on a Friday. And as much as I’d like to say others convinced me, it was more likely the other way around. The saddest part is that I convinced them because I thought they’d think it was cool I wanted to go start drinking immediately.
Well now my plan to not drink over the weekend was totally shot. So why take Saturday off. I’ll start Monday.
I’ll start reading Monday.
I’ll start eating healthier…Monday.
Monday I’ll take 5 days off from doing drugs.
What’s so special about Mondays? Nothing. It was just my excuse to allow whatever behavior to continue.
If you have a behavior you want to change, the answer isn’t Monday, it’s now. And it doesn’t have to be an extreme outcome.
If you want to start reading more, pick up a book and read two paragraphs — today.
If you think you want to stop drinking, ask a friend to go on a walk with you after work today and tell them.
Action towards a desired outcome will make your brain feel good. It will make your feel more in control of yourself. It will start a new pattern.
I imagine we can all identify with that last statement “feel more in control of yourself.”
But if you aren’t in control of yourself, who or what is? And in that question lies the answers you seek.
For me for my actions were driven by a lack of self worth and physical patterns of addiction etched in my brain.
It took years of professional help and a disciplined yoga practice to unravel and then rebuild the man I am today; to begin to tame my mind and be ok with myself.
My growth didn’t happen in an instance, I had to do the work daily and for a long time.
There are at least 20 years of my life I wish I could reclaim, and that’s why now not Monday is so important for me to remember.