Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't You, Ever, Get Too, Comfortable

I have no idea what this post should be about. My life is going well for the most part. This is the most optimistic I've been in I don't know how long; it feels great. Things are working out in ways I would have never imagined. It's amazing what a few basic changes can do to one's outlook and what happens to them. I mean, this month isn't even over and I need two hands to count the great things that have happened that will change my life forever! I am so thankful that I came to certain realizations about myself. One of those realizations being how I treat others. I don't mean the difference between being nice or mean to strangers, or acquaintances, or anything like that. I mean how you actually treat the people you claim you care about. You can try to act like you treat people well because you treat them better than those you don't know, but do you treat them better or worse than you used to?

I ask because reflection is so instrumental to growth. It's like in a relationship. You pulled out all the stops in the beginning stages. You communicated well, expressed exactly how you felt about that person, and put in a great deal of effort to "win" that person over. I mean, you wanted that person so you showed them that you actually wanted them! There's nothing wrong with that. The sense of proving your worthiness early on is really essential to show the person how serious you are. The same thought can be used for friendships. They are a little different, of course, because the growth of a friendship does occur in more relaxed terms. However, I think they happen to meet at the end point of getting comfortable. This is a tough thing to notice, internally. It's so easy to get comfortable and sometimes it's a good thing. It's like, at first, you watched what you said. You really made sure that the other person was the focus and you were cautious of their feelings and wants. You really were trying to prove that you were worthy of their time, energy, and attention. Over time, however, it's easy to get really comfortable. One may come to an internal realization that they proved themselves because they got what they sought out for; which is unfair to the other person. When this "realization" occurs, effort does become less consistent. It's often easier to let things just go, let the other person suffer a bit, or just be apathetic to things you once held as a priority.

Granted, over time you end up letting your guard down. It's easy to do so because you may feel that the other person just accepts you for who you are and you probably are right. But, there's a trick! Don't get too comfortable. Like, really. Don't. This is self-sabotage. I strongly implore you to remember the effort put forth early on. If you think about it, the one that the other person fell for didn't give minimal effort. That person wasn't so apathetic to their concerns. They fell for the one who was thoughtful, empathetic, zealous, enjoyable, and whatever other characteristics made them look forward to being in your presence. I know I've had this problem before. Granted, I can say that I, sometimes, was able to see when I got too comfortable with a situation and just wasn't the person I was in the beginning. I'm not saying you can't change or grow, I'm just saying, don't act as if that person is just in your life permanently. Don't think that they forgot how amazing you were in the beginning. We have to remain consistent! You keep a relationship that you put forth consistent effort. You keep a friend by maintaining the friendship. You keep a job not by doing worse than you did when you got hired, but better! You have to grow in whatever situation you're in. The end-goal is to be better than you were when you started. Give them a reason to keep you around, just as they should give you reasons. Think about it. Would you want to stay with a person you just feel is going downhill in terms of how they treat the relationship? Would you stay friends with someone who is acting less and less of a friend as time goes on? That's just unhealthy. There's no need to hold on to things like that-in my opinion. Some relationships work that way and shout out to them. But in my eyes, I think things should be on the up and up. Of course there are downs, but the greatest examples of growth come from some of the lowest points!

I can say that my friendships, and familial relationships, have improved soo much just by my effort going in the right direction! I've reached out to people, complimented people, or just listened to them. I was honest with people because I feel that's what they deserve. I got out-and-about to actually see them. I can see how much they appreciate it and these relationships I thought were dwindling, or even non-existent, have been revived. It's the best feeling in the world having people you care about return the favor. The same goes for family. That bond is unbreakable. That's a bond that should be embraced to the fullest. It isn't something to just look over because "they'll always be there".

That's it! This sense that a person will always be there is such a send off. You have family members that don't talk at all. You have once-best friends now worst enemies. No one is permanent. However, this idea that a person will always be there is a common thought in those getting comfortable. Just because someone is in love with you, doesn't give you the green light to lose steam and not give the necessary effort. Just like they fell in love, they can keep falling through the bottom right out. Yes that' your parent, but it doesn't mean they'll always be a parent to you if you treat them any less than what they deserve. We have to stop getting comfortable because that is self-sabotage. The only thing the other person did is positively respond to our positive efforts. You shouldn't repay a person's love with minimal effort.

I'm thankful for the people I have in my life and I really have been trying my best to show them the love and effort they deserve. They deserve my best because they love me and keep me in their lives. And sometimes I have to be okay with making the first large effort. It's okay to make the first step.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Humble, Young Man, Humble

It's crazy. This journey of mine happened to fall in line with the new year starting, which makes this look like a New Year's Resolution. This would be my first resolution set and I've been able to keep at it so far; granted it's only been a couple of weeks. What I can say from starting this blog & journey of mine is that I've put forth much effort to humble myself. When I say humble, I don't mean becoming a pushover or a "yes-man", but just being a better person. The results from this change are astounding. I mean, I've reached out to some good people and they've reached back. I've hung out with friends, had people over for New Year's, had meaningful conversations that came effortlessly; I love this.

Pride was my problem; well, one of them. I was too proud for too many things. I didn't want to lose an argument, give in, speak first, get criticized, learn from someone else, listen to learn (instead I just listened to react), and many other things. What was I doing? I was ruining my situations. Instead of fixing a problem right there in the moment, it lasted hours. Instead of salvaging an afternoon out, I incited more anger. This unhealthy practice is the reason my relationships just did not go well for me. I'm very fortunate to have had good, quality people placed in my life. It's like God was doing me favor after favor, sending me great, loving people that loved me more than anything. And by people, I mean friends, family, girlfriends, even teachers. As I look back, I've been so blessed. As I look closer, I see how I squandered some of those blessings.

The worst thing to do is to get in your own way. It's like I was the king of this. With some family members, I would literally find reasons not to reach out to them. It could be something they did to someone else, that has little to nothing to do with me; but it worked in my mind. I find my justification and I run all the way to the bank with it. I saw it was a problem when I was able to start saying that I had gone years without seeing some family members. The same thing with some friends. Now, I know that everyone won't be my best friend, but every person has a purpose in our lives. I was brushing off people right and left for no reason at all. Granted, everyone isn't meant to stick around, but I made my circle so small because my "pride" told me I didn't need them. My "pride" told me that they were friends with this person and I don't really mess with this person so I'll just cut them all off. What? It doesn't even make sense. I took grammar school thought processes to adulthood and it did nothing positive for me.

My intimate relationships got hit the hardest. I had girls who showed me so much love and appreciation. I can't even do it justice by attempting to explain how much they felt for me. I'm not saying it wasn't mutual, but my pride even got in the way of that! There would be times where I would turn off, emotionally, because my pride made me think that apologizing was a sign of weakness. I would do something wrong, find a way to make the cause of the issue be to the fault of the girlfriend, and then place blame and show apathy to the situation. This manipulative process was my safe zone. I know there lies a deeper issue and that's what my journey is about. Why do I cause pain, then place blame on the one that received the initial pain? It's like, I'm punishing you for being the one in pain. That wasn't right. I know that now. You don't do things like that to people you love. That isn't love. That isn't compassion. That isn't friendship on any level. When it comes to times like these, I need to take a step back and look at the situation. Am I the one in the wrong? Why does she feel like this? What part did I play in this? Has this happened before? How would I feel if this were done to me? In situations like this, exercising love breeds more love. Show compassion which leads to empathy which leads to care which leads to actions which leads right back to love. LOVE is the best thing out I promise! Love can mend the toughest of situations. Love can strengthen even the most fragile foundations. My pride was hurting the love I gave, which ended up hurting the love I received.

Humility speaks louder than Pride. Pride is just a large distraction, but it's really easy to drown out by even the smallest example of humility. This is what I want to be known for. This is how I want to be loved. This is how I want to love. This is how I WILL love. This is how I need to love. I need to give without expecting anything in return. This is listening without even looking like I'm judging. This is responding rather than reacting. As a man, it's easy to get caught up in pride. Men are supposed to do this and do that and take care of it all. Men are supposed to drive to the store when it's cold outside. Men are supposed to get out the car to go in to get the food. Men are supposed to be the shoulder to cry on. Men are supposed to carry the world on his shoulders and the groceries in his hand. There are many factors, both cultural and systematic, that enable this idea of being a "man" from childhood. I'm not saying men aren't supposed to be men, I'm just saying that pride comes from more than one source. I suppose I'm learning that it also takes a man to know how to take his responsibilities and expectations and find a balance for them. A man should be able to keep himself in check and not take all of these external factors for granted. It's amazing how much faith are put into men. It's up to a man to take the responsibilities with humility as Jesus did. I don't want to get religious or anything, but that's just the model I look to when I think of compassion and humility.

I really am thankful for the people in my life right now. Those who have left are gone for a reason, and those to come will arrive when necessary. I'll be patient.

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Am I As Strong As I Think I Am?

The journey is underway. This is tougher than I thought, but I am learning so much so quickly. I am becoming more and more confident with myself and those around me, my decisions and my outcomes. I am grateful to be making these life changes because they are helping me live my life as a better person to those around me. I have already seen changes in my life at work, with friends, and especially my family. Who would have thought that being caring and loving, genuinely, would yield such positive results? I didn't. I often battled with the idea of being "strong-minded". I really thought I was an overall strong person because I was the way that I was. I implore everyone to think about themselves in regards to their decisions, actions, and mindsets. Ask yourselves this: Am I Strong or Stubborn?

This line is sometimes clear, but often very blurry. Both of these characteristics  have to do with conviction, confidence, and self-understanding; along with other traits. I thought about this because I used to think I was such a strong person. I'm not saying that I'm just weak or anything, but I'm not as strong as I thought I was. With the way I used to treat people, I thought I was exhibiting strength that a man should. I used to pride myself on not regretting anything, never going back on my word, never even crying! I thought that a man, let alone a person, shouldn't exhibit these things. There were times where I would talk with such disgust to people, for a reason I convinced myself that they deserved it, but in actuality they didn't. When it comes to people, especially women, they should never be talked down to. I used to pride myself on doing this. I took the whole "a women's place" mentality too far. I thought I was such a man playing mind games, being condescending, diverting attention away from my own issues and involvement; there was something wrong with me.

One thing I am learning, however, is that it takes a strong person to humble themselves.
I'd learned all of my life that Jesus was this humble being and this, in turn, made him a model to follow. I understood it in the realm of Catholicism, but not real life. I found a way, internally, to separate the two. It wasn't until recently that I realized how prideful I was. I also discovered how humble women actually are. It was completely eye-opening! I mean, they have the confidence to carry themselves like a woman should, yet they can humble themselves to follow a man's lead, while still holding things together. They sometimes admit their faults, admit their shortcomings, and even forgive people who are often undeserving. I absolutely love women. I can't live without them. I was raised around women and saw this trait in them, but for some reason, I didn't grasp that women should be treated with the same respect that they gave out. A man should humble himself, when necessary, for his woman, sister, mother, etc... This was an area where I was lacking. My stubborn ways got in the way of my potential strength. The least I could do is humble myself to let things go, or not complain, or even show more affection. The true measure of a man is how he treats the women in his life. It all starts with a woman.

If I can offer advice to the men reading: HUMBLE yourselves. Men, it's easy to get caught up in the "image" of being a man, instead of being the man your women need. Be strong. I don't mean work-out every day. I mean Emotionally strong. Mentally strong. Spiritually strong. This strength is something that will positively impact everything around you. If I can offer something else: Be mindful of who you share your gifts with. It's up to you to be a good judge of character to see how you are received. Some people aren't ready for the strength that we have to offer; it's up to you to keep your eyes open.
I'm working on my strength right now with the women in my life. My mother, my sisters, my grandmother, and my female friends. I have to be strong in practice in order for it to become a part of me. So far, it is being received well.

The Backseat Driver