Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and went like, “Rosemary, that was impressive!” Have you ever gotten to the parking lot or car smiled and wanted to scream at the top of your voice, Yeah I did it! Have you ever thought of stopping in the middle of the road just to check, was that me? Have you ever reviewed your day in the evening and just smiled before hitting the pillow? If you haven’t done any of these, I think we need to check your level of self-love…
If you have done any of the above or more I want us to take a journey back to that moment. What triggered it? Chances are it is not when you bought a new car or made another investment. These obviously made you smile but they did not give you a warm instant heart jump. They probably left you with a loan to worry about. I bet it’s something smaller but more personal. It is something you had wanted to do to prove your worth in a good way either as a person, as a parent or as a professional. Our biggest triumphs are in the battles that no one knows about. The small but impactful things that we rarely talk about. They define us to the core, they genuinely raise our confidence and self-esteem; they raise our self-worth. Our confidence is defined by how we handle the areas that we don’t dominate.
Currently for me, this happens when I successfully deliver a training outside what I considered my area of interest/expertise or when I write for four hours nonstop. The thrill of great content flowing continuously without distraction or experiencing writer’s block is exhilarating. These are the moments I want to give myself a pat on the back, a hug, order pizza, take a road trip to nature with nice loud music and a good camera to savor the moments. These are my small things that count.
I have an innate interest in human behavior with a natural inclination to the ‘story behind the story.’ Every time I have coffee with people I am disturbed by how similar their stories are. If the conversation happens with a man he will tell you about his job, business, land, house, car and any other thing that he considers an investment. If I am having a conversation with a lady she will talk about the children, the husband, church and a bit about work. What I find interesting is how monotonous their tone and facial expression is as they take you through that conversation. The society has conditioned us on what we consider important and what we should show case to the world.
However, something changes as people get more relaxed in their conversation and start to talk about the small things. The man talking about the day he spent with the kids at the swimming pool or the day he managed a tough situation in the office. The lady talks about having the courage to step up and get selected for a new role or follow her passion. They will describe this with lots of emotions and illustrations. The men will even go out of their way to show you the photos. This tells me a lot about the things that we genuinely care about. Unfortunately, they are the things people rarely talk about but also the things people worry most about. In the midst of talking about the big things people have a deep desire to talk about the small things that worry them each day.
Every day we worry about our life choices; did we marry right, are we parenting right, are we in the right career path, will we regret the life we are living now, will we regret not following our dream, did our friends make better choices by marrying or not marrying, was leaving him/her a mistake, Is she/he here to stay or will he/she walk out on me at some point, what if I lose my job, would I be important to him/her again, are they even my biological children, am I good enough for her? These are the small things that matter. They give us immense worry and immense joy in equal measures. When we are younger we feel we have everything in place. We went to the right schools, got the right degrees, got the right jobs, got the right partners and probably got perfect kids.
As we grow older something starts to trigger our fears. We start getting a reality check. We do not enjoy our jobs as much we thought, families are not as glorious as they look on photos, the single people admire your family, you resent your family and admire the single people, your friend seems to be parenting better than you, earning more than you or living larger than you, your other friend seems to be flourishing as a stay at home mum while your neighbor is travelling all over the world. The question is, who has it right? My answer; they could be right or they could be wrong. Some are right because they followed their heart and conviction others are wrong because they are living by society standards and expectations or they are being ruled by fear.
The most important thing is that your heart is at peace with where you are and who you are? Every time someone says they want a change my question is, what triggered the change? Is it a genuine need to be a better version of you or is it an external push? Some push may be positive but most of it gives you unnecessary pressure to a direction you have no interest in. However, the most encouraging thing about such a person is that they have the courage to address their worries or doubts about where they are in life. They are convinced that they can be become a better version of themselves. If we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the little things that worry us we will pay for them dearly later in life.
If we allow the big things to hide the small things that matter, then we will always live in the shadows of our real selves. We will impress the society but feel deeply empty on the inside. I am a champion of genuine happiness even when the world around you does not understand it. Your choices do not require the world’s approval. Stop justifying your life choices, you are not obligated to meet anyone’s standards. Set your own standards and evaluate yourself against them. In the words of Olivia Pope in the Scandal series, “We know who we are, who we will always be and we have a choice; we can hide in the shadows or we can stand in the light.” “Every man dies but not every man really lives.” Chase your dream, take risks, love life!
The beauty of life is that we have choices. In the words of Buddha “Choice is the most powerful tool that we have. Everything boils down to choice. We exist in a field of infinite possibilities. Every choice that we make shuts an infinite number of doors and opens an infinite number of doors. At any point we can change the direction of our lives by a simple choice. It is all in our hands, our hearts and our minds.” Follow your heart’s conviction and keep going as long as your heart is at peace. Be open to learn and change as the world around you unfolds. Your pride and ego will not serve you for long.
The sad part is, as human beings we feel these gaps, you can tell that you are not doing enough to connect with your children or partner, you can tell you are hanging on to a job that you do not like, you can tell you are hanging in a relationship that is not adding value, you can tell that you are living below your potential, you can tell that you want better! You however avoid being vulnerable. You avoid taking some time to ask yourself those deep questions. Some people would rather spend a day with an enemy or stranger than spend it with themselves. Solitude scares them; they cannot face their own reality.
They avoid talking to someone who is objective, they would rather join a team of complainers holding a pity party. I have actually realized that some people will avoid a coaching session when you guide them towards the reality of their struggle. They realize they have been blaming everyone else apart from themselves. They blame their spouse, their ex partners, they use kids as a scape goat, they blame the employer, they blame the season or the economy. They point fingers at everyone and everything else apart from themselves. In the words of Carolyne Myss “Never blame another person for your personal choices – you are still the one who must live out the consequences of your choices.” Your partner, your job, children, relationships are all your choices!
Life is a personal responsibility; whatever life you chose you owe yourself the best version of it. Stop playing busy with the big things. You can blind the society by looking like you have it all together but you cannot lie to yourself about that thing that worries you deep down. Bring it on the table and have a discussion with yourself or an objective wise person who can walk with you. However, the most important thing is that you eventually make the choice that you are at peace with.
You want to live knowing that you did not tiptoe through life expecting the bare minimum from yourself. You want to know that you gave every aspect of the life that you chose the very best in your own terms. You also want to fight in strength and honor without stepping on someone else toes on the way to your dreams. Inspire someone else by being the best father, best mother, best friend, best professional, best partner and best human being that ever lived. Embrace your life and choices and make them the epitome of admiration. You don’t want to look back and wonder if you pulled your weight. In the words of Maximus, in the Gladiator movie, “What we do in life echoes in eternity”
The average 60-year-old does not go into depression because of the house he did not build/buy or the marriage she did not nurture. It is the dreams and passions she did not have the courage to chase, the important relationships that he did not nurture and the holiday he/she did not take. What you don’t address now will haunt you later. As put again in the gladiator movie, “When a man sees his end he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. Ultimately we are all dead men. Sadly we cannot chose how or when but we can decide how we meet that end in order that we are remembered as men”… or women. The real goals are the ones that make us smile when everyone one else is gone.
“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we are proud of. Some will haunt us forever but the message is; We are What We Chose To Be.” Graham Brown