I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been writing in a journal (daily), so I could look back and capture “trends” around my thoughts and actions and potentially find ways to look a bit deeper into how I parent, how I act as a husband, brother, son and any of the other roles I have in life. I’ve struggled, like most of us probably do, with healthy living, parenting, friendships and marriage, so I wanted to turn inward and see how interesting it might be to reflect back on a year in my life. As I look back on this year of entries, it was, at a minimum…eye opening.
Reading my journal was more challenging than I expected it to be. This stuff isn’t easy to read because you create unfiltered thoughts while writing in a journal versus throwing something on a site like this one. There is no editing while you journal, no deleting and definitely no “starting over”. The words and thoughts are dumped onto a page and then they are locked away. I write each morning and try and clear all of the thoughts, emotions, and mental states from the previous day; capturing them for future review. The raw nature of the words can be fun to re-read, but the thought of sharing them with other people wasn’t as pleasant. A friend from work popped into my office the other day and noticed I’d been writing and she asked what I was doing, so I shared the concept. She immediately went for the journal and asked if she could read some of the entries and I threw her the “heisman” and pulled the journal out of her hands.
The second she touched the journal, I barked, “Not a chance” and pulled the journal back from her. As I threw the journal into a drawer in my office, I vividly remembered all of the things I’d wrote over the last 9 months; work, marriage, parenting and my successes and failures with each. The thought of someone else reading those thoughts made me incredibly anxious. The articles that are posted on my site have gone through heavy editing and most of the stories are opinions of mine, but not necessarily direct stories, so sharing more of my mental gore is a bit intimidating. I know some of my articles can be repetitive and they might not be offering enough advice or guidance, so when I reconsidered adding more of my journal’s thoughts to these articles, it was exciting because I’m planning on taking what I’ve already lived through and throw it out for the review of others (and maybe some learning & teaching will come along the way).
Overall, this is why I titled this first “chapter”, where it all comes from…
When we talk about living life, most of us aren’t comfortable with sharing all the little details like I am. Who wants to share the things they are scared of, the areas where they feel like they fall short or the behaviours they are no longer proud of? This, for me, is where the core of my writing comes from and I’ve been coached to no longer be afraid of sharing some of this content. As a matter of fact, sharing the good or the bad has been a huge help for me and the honesty around life’s fears and shortcomings have enabled me to do some things differently and learn that lots of other people experience exactly what I’ve lived through. This is where I want people to engage. I want more discussions about the challenges in life, because we can help each other. I believe these fears prohibit us from sharing how we feel or discussing areas we’d like to change. These changes can be used in your professional life, your personal life, with friends or with strangers. The amount of fear I see in people is growing and this fear is still present in my life (I’ve seen it as a trend in my journal entries). In reality, how many of use really “share” the details of what we are feeling or why we are feeling a certain way or how an experience might make us feel? It’s these feelings of fear or anxiety that prevent most people from being truly authentic and I witness all types of people struggle with it.
Take this journal entry fromApril 8, 2011and you’ll see what I mean;
“Reality…I’m not a huge fan of doing what I do for a living, but without work what do we do? I’m not overly excited about how I treat my marriage, I’m concerned about my parenting style- I’m so freaking inconsistent with the kids- and I keep looking ahead in life, you know, “what’s next”… but haven’t ever afforded myself the time to stay focused in the present, which leads me down the path of taking things for granted, wanting what other people have and it disables me from being focused on any specific life area to really tap into the balance and positive energy I’m seeking.”
That is about as honest as I can be as it relates to how I was feeling in April of this year. Yes, it freaks me out a bit to put some of that in writing, but I think the value in this honesty is important. What I do for a living, the way I handle my marriage, my parenting and my daily responsibilities are in my control, aren’t they? I had someone push me a few years ago during a coaching session and it came out that one of my personal concerns was acting and living like everything was “great” when I felt inside like I was falling apart. I call it the “bullshit” factor (what if I’m not as smart as I think I am, what if I’m not as successful in my career as I’ve led people to believe or what if I really am a bad parent or husband?). My internal thoughts conflicted with my external presentation and that created serious personal struggle. Smile on the outside, anger on the inside. As my coach listened, she simply responded with, “well…if you were “less intelligent” or “weak as a professional” or “a bad parent or husband”, wouldn’t you want to know?
As simple the statement was, she was right. Sharing these types of fears will help you face some of those hidden challenges. If you do nothing else in life, please try and be honest with yourself and be willing to address those things that concern you (and include the people involved who you are comfortable with or find a coach or therapist to confide in) and be willing to adjust your behaviours if you do, in fact, want adjusting. If you don’t like the way something is going in life, you have the ability to adjust, modify and change it.
What I don’t recommend is continuing to hide from these fears, which I have done (as you’ll read in future posts), because it will ultimately lead to more anxiety and frustration. And…don’t fall prey to the theory of; doing the same thing every day and expecting different results (this will only lead to insanity). I have found that writing, talking and expressing these fears helps me locate others who have the same challenges and we can share ideas on how to better improve our situations. Whether it’s a new career (or reinvention of the one you have), or the thought of being a more involved parent, or to be a better friend to those around you…each of these facets of life can be altered if you build a plan and focus on the change.
This is where it all comes from…my desire to share failure and challenge is rooted in the hope that others can learn the power of sharing too and maybe all of us will be better off for it.