My dad and I had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays together for the first time in many years. Twelve days late for me and two days late for him but, nonetheless, totally worth the wait. When we get together, I can feel the power and purpose of generational learning (our ability to tell our stories and pass them down to the generations that come after us) in such a strong way. He has the ability to set such a strong example of strength and selflessness at the same time…excellent qualities in a leader and a dad.
When we take the time to tell our stories, they have the chance to impart to younger generations what we have learned through life’s ups and downs. This is only part of the benefit of storytelling though because there is no guarantee that the knowledge sinks in, as so much in life is learned through our own experiences. However, one of my greater realizations about telling our stories is the ability it gives us to work through our own feelings from our life circumstances and sort through the effect they have on us.
It can be difficult to process our perceived negative emotions such as anger, sadness or rejection but, when we push these experiences away, they end up causing us even greater pain that manifests in addictions and insecurities. We almost always end up passing that pain on to other people. You’ve heard the quote:
“Hurt people hurt people.”
That experience has been proven to be true in so many circumstances in my life.
I watched this TED Talk
on “bad emotions” and it made me think deeper about what it means to be real about the difficult situations that life presents and yet keep an optimists lens on life.
As an optimist and growth mindset believer, I believe in our ability to reframe occurrences in our lives that seem negative or bad, into opportunities to learn and grow. As we move though our lives, we encounter heartbreak, loss and other pain that comes with the experience of a full life. When this happens, we can choose to dig deep and wrestle with the discomfort, or let those lessons become blows to our ego and security and give them the power to take over the best parts of us. When we choose the route of avoidance, we become cynical, negative, or even look to criticize or belittle others, in an attempt to put out the flame of our own insecurity. We become easily threatened by other peoples points of view and our world begins to shrink..a sad fact being that we all have so much to learn from each others perspectives. Little by little, comments sneak out and soon we are scratching away at the people we love the most, often because they are loyal and will take it from us. In fact though, these are the very people we should be honoring with our words and deeds because of their unwavering loyalty.
It takes courage to process feelings instead of stonewalling, which only causes us to become more calloused and less vulnerable (which means less of the connection that we as humans are wired for) every time we decide to sweep something under the proverbial rug. These days my ability to be transparent about my emotions is something I consider very important, whether in the form of tears, words or any other respectful communication. When we fail to deal with our feelings and emotions honestly, we create a situation in our own life where mediocrity is accepted and our ability to be transparent and know ourselves declines. Since self awareness is a top trait for a meaningful life, we leave ourselves in quite a bind.
I know that the only way I can teach my kids to handle their lives with honesty and connection is to tackle my own insecurities head on and stand strongly on my own two feet. Better out than in I tell them…we certainly aren’t there yet, but this is a topic that won’t fade for me, and I hope that future generations of my family will be able to thank me for it. Clarity, courage and respectful confrontation…good goals to have for 2019.