Grow Through It

It’s past bedtime for most working men. It’s not unbearably late and I have no appointments tomorrow morning so I sit here and contemplate. Contemplate what? Well, what do I always contemplate? Life, the concept of God, the meaning of life, what’s happening in society, and my next step in my own journey; there really is a lot to consider or, more aptly put, more that one can consider. I speak of being in the moment, staying present and not worrying. You are more effective in that place. Yet, there are times for reflection.

Reflecting gives me the opportunity to check-in with the events of the past week. The conversations and people I’ve met. Along with that there is the recollection of the impact I made or they made during our exchange. This includes what may come from the relationship. Sadly, there are those people whose impact may have been negative. During the exchange there are attempts at honest communication and I’m saddened by the lack of insight they may possess; I am thinking of a particular incident. Friendship is a fickle thing.

I’m astonished by the mistakes we make as adults: Mistakes about our own beliefs and how that impacts others; Mistakes about relationship choices just because we feel ourselves getting older and perceive that to mean we’re running out of time; Mistakes of judging others before we’ve even had the opportunity to give a friendship or relationship a chance. One encounter with someone rarely scratches the surface and most issues people have in an exchange are their own issues. Chances are you’re seeing a reflection of yourself.

I’ve had to learn that a long time ago now. Many beliefs and attitudes I encountered that butted heads with me were typically a fairly representative reality of my own making, not theirs. What I would see is what I expected to see based upon previous encounters with other people. Little triggers would set me off, thinking about a past event, letting it taint the current potential for a new relationship. After shutting so many people out, I finally took stock and began to challenge myself to see past those initial encounters.

Most often, when we present ourselves to a new person, our strategy is to adopt a mask of conduct that we have become comfortable and safe with when dealing with people we don’t know or want to keep at a safe distance. Too often in the past we presented our most authentic self while growing up and had our trust betrayed. Or, we’ve been schooled by parents, teachers, friends that we should always be on our guard. I’ve found little reason to continue the charade.

While I will speak more freely about certain topics initially, I bring my truest nature into the relationship immediately. I speak openly about matters of the heart, matters of the spirit based upon my own experiences, and many other unusual topics of life and relationships. It troubles me to be in conversations with people who are guarded and anxious, as though they had something to hide, to protect, or suggest that I’m untrustworthy. To give trust is to be trustworthy.

In opening myself up to be vulnerable, I demonstrate trust and that I am trustworthy. This was affirmed on Saturday morning over coffee with a woman that I had only just met. We met to discuss aspects of her life that she would like improved. For two hours nothing was spoken about her situation. I discussed many aspects of my life, trials and tribulations, relationships, work, and beliefs. Towards the end of our time together, she said she trusted me completely. It was about who I was being with her that gave her this security and permission to be authentic. Others won’t go there.

Another woman with whom I spent even more time, continuing to be the same man I always am, has failed to find me trustworthy. Yet I behaved the same and was my authentic self and opened up about much of my life and such as I did on Saturday. She opened up herself, usually about one or two topics, and yet she was caught up in a belief system that didn’t allow her to trust herself with certain people. Based upon an initial impression, not of the person but of a stereotype she holds, I am lumped into a category of the type of person that can cause her to give up her power. That is such a revealing statement.

After communicating this to me, understanding why she has this issue, I am unable to respond in a way that will allow her to hear the truth. The filter is already in place and everything said will be heard from that perspective. Not from a place of impartial judgment, instead it is heard from a biased judgment. We did speak about that issue but rather than challenge her, I had to talk about me from that context. I don’t know if she will see what I see. If she gives up her power in context with certain people, then how is her relationship with herself? Does she trust herself?

We are complex and we are wise to be careful with whom we trust. I agree with that but at the same time, can you be so overly cautious that you no longer learn anything about yourself, your power, and how you can improve your circumstances when dealing with other people? Challenges are given to us to rise up and grow. When a problem shows up, you go through it. Or, like my grandfather would have said, “You grow through it.”

Not all powerful personalities are interested in controlling other people. I’d say the majority of us are happy with who we are and are just enthused by the exchange with other human beings. We don’t want your power, we want you to engage in a relationship that challenges and empowers. The questions I’m left with:

  • “Why are you afraid?
  • “Who are you really afraid of?
  • “So what is it that you really want?