Everyone struggles from time to time. My current struggle is self-inflicted. Pursing a path of self-improvement creates a widening gap with the people in my current social circle. As I redefine my values, I start notice the strings of certain relationships begin to strain. They long for the person I was, and increasingly feel alienated by the stranger I’m becoming.
Drifting away from relationships is never easy, especially with nostalgia creating a sturdy mental anchor. Strong tides of loneliness hit occasionally. They signal the ushering of a new season. During the worst hurricanes I repeat the following: Focus on the lighthouse and you will escape the fog.
May your ship survive every storm – Barry
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
The wise Master Yoda delivered this advice to young Luke Skywalker over 30 years ago. Since then the quote has been recycled a billion times. As a kid I understood it was good advice, but why was it good advice? Don’t you need to “try” before you can “do” anything?
Now examining this quote further reveals a deeper message. To “try” means to put forth effort. To “do” means to put forth effort until you reach a result. Yoda basically says work until you produce something or don’t work at all. It places all the emphasis on execution. He is telling Luke to commit to training until something comes of it.
Wow. So much great wisdom in a memorable and succinct quote. All of us have areas of our life where we need to stop trying and start doing. Put forth that effort until something happens. Be persistent in your pursuits. Transform your trade with ruthless tenacity.
Most importantly remember:
“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Barry
No one would call me a relationship expert. In fact, no one would call me. Despite this, there is one piece of advice of relationship advice I feel confident giving:
Don’t be a placeholder.
Barry, what in the world do you mean?
A placeholder is an object that is occupies a space until something better can replace it. It is a temporary solution. A relationship placeholder is the same thing, but with a person. The relationship is condemned to fail because there is no emotional investment at stake.
I would never be a placeholder for someone else.
Chronic loneliness can drive people into these types of relationships reluctantly. It is easy to justify being in this arrangement too. The three pseudo relationships I’ve fallen into were filled with thoughts like: Maybe this will actually work out, she’ll see how great I am eventually, we’re so good for each other. Although I reassured myself with these thoughts while never fully believing them.
Okayyy, I still don’t see what the big deal is.
A relationship where you serve as a placeholder will erode your self-esteem and self-respect over time. In the beginning every will thing feel fine. You may even think, being a placeholder is better than being alone! The problems won’t arise until your partner stops fulfilling your needs. In my case, it has always led blatant emotional manipulation. If you decided to stick it out like I did you will accumulate resentment, bitterness, low self-worth, anger and eventually loneliness. The loneliness comes when you refuse to be used any longer. Luckily, loneliness is the better option.
Don’t be a placeholder – Barry
Emotional intelligence grants us access to a hidden layer of the world around us. Humans use logic, but are creatures of great emotion. Understanding the role of emotions allows for better navigation through life. This increased awareness comes with side effects also.
Increased Emotional Stimulus
Greater emotional intelligence leads to high sensitivity to the emotional states of others. You will start noticing things that previously went unnoticed. When meeting new people, I immediately get a sense of what their insecurities are. Without thinking I begin dissecting the true nature of people’s relationships. I can see their stored resentments or unfulfilled needs. My personal experiences with codependency have me wired to avoid anyone who exhibits traits of a manipulator. This additional stimulus can be overwhelming at times.
The temptation to meddle in the lives of others grows once you exposed to the true nature of human relationships. One can drive themselves crazy watching others fumble with their emotional problems. Just remember that unsolicited interference will not help others. People must struggle before they can learn.
The only way to tame these side effects is through acceptance. Accept other people for their strengths and struggles. Do not try to force your opinions or good ideas on them. Avoid falling into that “I know what’s best” mindset. Let them be and educate by example.
I love you – Barry
Alright let’s be real for a sec.
Everyone knows a person that believes we are their best friend. From our perspective, this is an audacious claim. We barely know you and may not like you. A decent person doesn’t say this out loud though. Instead we resort to playing social tango. Our interactions with them feel painfully insincere. We entertain their invitations and tolerate their presence.
Here are my questions:
How do you approach a situation like this in a compassionate way? Is it wrong to misled someone about your feelings toward the relationship? Should we give this person a chance if our dislike comes from superficial reasons?
Any advice is greatly appreciated – Barry
It is my belief that respect should always override political ideology. Staring at the political spectrum is blinding. What does it mean to be a Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc.? Our concurrent caricatures of these labels are not our own. We have simply inherited someone else’s assessment without question. Taking a step backward reveals that the divide appears smaller from a distance.
It is my belief that discourse and disagreement are necessary for mutual understanding. Acknowledging a conflicting viewpoint will not discredit your own. Dogmatic ideals only narrow the path to an effective solution. Learning to raise an ear instead of raising a voice is one of the most powerful things a person can do.
It is my belief that fairness applies universally. Ignoring a tiny spill of injustice for one opens the floodgates of tyranny to all. Kindness should be our mantra, while contempt is kept at bay. We escape the pains of the past so that we may live better today.
I know what they did.
I know they hurt you. I watched as they belittled and berated you into nothing.
I know they beat you. I cried as they slammed their knuckles into your fragile ribs.
I know they doubt you. I despaired as they imposed dangerous obstacles to defeat you.
Here’s how you strike back.
Remove the “why” and focus on “I”.
Why did they hurt me?
How can I stop the hurt?
Why did they beat me?
Where do I find the power to stop it?
Why did they doubt me?
Why did I doubt me?
Learn to transform external pain into internal gain and begin to Manifest your Joy – Barry
What do you want to do most? To be an actor, programmer, dancer, writer, teacher, parent, doctor, etc..?
Figured it out? Awesome! The next question typically is:
When do I know I’m really an actor?
Uncertainty claims a lot of lives with this question. Then people quit. Instead of searching for outside validation use this simple tool. Harness the power of ing. Continue reading
It’s 5:45am. Swiping back the shower curtain I release a mass of steam into my tiny bathroom. Before drying off I move to the sink to brush my teeth. Something in the mirror above the sink catches my eye.
Damn I look good! Did you lose some weight?
I make a few bicep flexing motions in the bathroom mirror and pose for the audience of one (myself). Indulging in this vanity for longer than I care to admit another thought pops up.
The bathroom mirror also doubles as a photo studio for Instagram pics
Wow, I would date me. I would totally date me. I feel bad for people that will never get to date me. Oh well.
For the rest of the day my mind generated an extensive list of all my date worthy qualities. This list could encompass another whole blog post so I’ll just name a few. Besides being irresistible, charming, I am young, ambitious, smart, funny, etc. Creating this mental list gave me a better appreciation for myself. What started out as ego stroking turned into an acknowledgement of my self-worth. Now I wake up nearly every day thinking I would date me.
My question to you is this: Would you date you? Single or otherwise, most of your time with is spent with yourself. Acknowledge those great personality traits and work on the not so great ones.
Now if you don’t mind I have a hot date (with myself) – Barry
Love. Arguably the most ambiguous of all abstractions. For centuries human beings have suffered, pondered, and declared their unique perspectives on love. Despite these efforts no universally accepted definition of love exists. I don’t have any idea what love is either. Instead I offer a backwards solution: define with unshakeable certainty what love is not. Continue reading
Over the course of our lives we will become familiar with a variety of zones. They can range from AutoZone, The Phantom Zone, The Chalk Zone, and my personal favorite, Frozone.
The focus for today is the comfort zone. Continue reading
Self-improvement is not about perfection. I have witnessed too many people obsessed with perfection unknowingly inhibit their own growth. Many times they end up self-destructing. According to Merriam-Webster perfection is defined as
“…freedom from fault or defect: flawlessness”
Human beings learn from trial and error. Observing our mistakes and correcting them moving forward. Children fall over and over before learning how to walk independently. Failure is our default and progress is the natural order.
Perfection refuses to acknowledge our flaws, cutting off the possibly of improving upon them. For best results: Try, Fail, Learn, Rinse, Repeat.
I love you – Barry
The worst thing we can do to others is suppress their autonomy. To inhibit someone’s free will is to suppress their potential.
The same goes for ourselves. Many times we change our identity to conform, not to defy. Hesitating to pursue a dream because eyes are on us, preaching that it is impossible.
Your flavor of uniqueness contains that extra “umpf!” that makes life so wonderfully delicious. Water it down at your own risk.
I love you – Barry
Along this journey of self-improvement, I developed a different perspective on knowledge. Like many, I adamantly believed in the phrase “knowledge is power.” Continue reading