Why Bother Investigating our Past?

Why Bother Investigating Our Past?

In early November of this year, my book, A Heart’s Journey to Forgiveness, will be released. Like delivering my first child, I am nervous and excited at the same time. 

With the book release, I have opportunities to give interviews, something I’ve never done before. But as of last Friday, I now have one under my belt. 

Thankfully, because the questions were sent to me ahead of time, I did not have to answer any one of them off the cuff. Instead, I had the time to ruminate on them. One of the questions was, “As the sixth child among seven, your sister said “you were born into chaos.” Why did you want to write about your chaotic family life and upbringing?”

The short answer was, I had to. 

  The Power of the Past

The long answer to that particular question was that my body and my brain had ingested the trauma of my father’s suicide and the story replayed itself over and over and over. Without listening to that voice from the past, I never would have been able to unhook myself from the powerful effects of my past. The experience of my father’s suicide, along with my earlier attempts to  ignore its ramifications in my life, shaped my emotions, perspectives and behaviors. Frankly, I did not like who I’d become.  Anger and discontentment dominated me. I was very unhappy with who I’d turned out to be. 

The past can be a difficult thing for any of us to unearth, yet without investigating our  inward turmoil, the negative force of that turmoil holds us hostage. We’ve all lived through tragic circumstances. Inevitably,  the event leaves a mark on us. As kids, we don’t have the tools to unpack and analyze what happened. Instead, we only have the resolve to survive.  

For most of us, it’s not until we reach adulthood that we get the chance to look back at those sad, defining moments and consider their impact on our present lives. While the past is impossible to eliminate, it is not impossible to evaluate. 

Why bother to investigate our past? Exploring the past sheds light on the present, and empowers us to shape better moments. 

 

Why Bother With Integrity?

Why Bother With Integrity?

Living honestly, sincerely, and conscientiously with myself and others is a lifelong endeavor. Along the pathway of life we oftentimes adopt attitudes and actions that are contrary to our basic moral principles. When we do, then it takes time and effort to reflect on how to realign ourselves once again with our core values. 

                  Staying True

Sometimes we may need to schedule a chunk of time to get away by ourselves for a day or two and ruminate on the choices we’ve made and where they have taken us. Other times, when we’ve lost clarity and seem to be moving through a dense fog in the wrong direction, making an appointment with a counselor can be helpful. 

But, what if we were to examine our moral fiber on a daily basis? What if we reflected daily on our attitudes and actions? Is it possible to make a regular and daily practice of considering our words and actions toward others? I think so. Much like the benefits of eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s rest, we could make a habit of considering our thoughts and actions and reap the benefits of such a practice.

Knowing ourselves is key to knowing when we are thinking or acting off kilter. Recognizing the warning signs and giving them our attention is paramount to staying true to our morals. How do I know when I am saying something contrary to my beliefs? Do I feel uncomfortable? And if so, do I press forward and move on anyway? Do I deny the little niggle in my brain or do I actually acknowledge it? 

When I’ve said something inappropriate, overstepped a boundary, ignored a need or just plain cared less when I should have cared more, I know it. I get a sense of discomfort, a feeling of embarrassment or remorse. Though I can’t take back my words, I can be grateful that awareness is the first step to changing my ways. 

Becoming aware of our patterns—when I am stressed I feel anger, when I am tired I feel hopeless, or when I am afraid I lose my ability to speak—is helpful. Being mindful makes us more aware and being aware keeps us aligned to living morally. 

Like other healthy habits, living in sync with our values pays off. We are more competent, less wishy-washy and happier with ourselves. We are more coherent and can consider others by offering them a hand up or an encouraging word. Our perspective is broader and we can see farther than just the end of our own nose. 

 Why bother with integrity? Keeping ourselves aligned to our core values is part of living well. And everyone benefits from living well.

Why Bother With Authenticity?

Why Bother With Authenticity?

Back in the 1960s there was a game show called, “To Tell The Truth.” Three contestants, all claiming to be the same person, attempted fooling a panel of four celebrities into believing they were the real McCoy and not the impostor.  The panel of four, peppered the panel of three, with questions attempting to sift out the impostor and identify the bona fide individual. Then the celebrities cast their vote, stating which contestant they believed held the authentic identity of the person claiming to possess the unusual or distinguishing talent.  Not until the very end, when the host said, “Will the real _____________please stand up,” did anyone know for sure which individual was the official inventor, professor, or person possessing the extraordinary ability. Oftentimes, the panel of celebrities were surprised they could be duped so easily. 

To Dupe or Not To Dupe

Being honest with others begins with being honest with ourselves and being truthful with ourselves takes not only time and wherewithal, but also a motive. What incentive moves me from being an impostor to being authentic with myself and with others? What is the payoff for being the true to life person that I am? Is it more profitable to be genuine or disingenuous? 

While growing up, I naturally noticed others around me. My brother Bruce was the most carefree and adventurous of my siblings. I wanted to be him. Then there was Cynthia who was groovy and organic. I wanted to be her. Diane was creative while Beth personified sophistication. I wanted to be them. In short, I wanted to be someone other than me.  

During my high school days, Twiggy was a featured model in a magazine that I read called Seventeen. I tried hard to look like her. Then while raising and homeschooling my three sons, I aspired to emulate other mothers whose pictures and stories appeared in homeschooling magazines. They appeared intelligent and confident. Again, I wanted to be them, not me. But, I wasn’t any of the above mentioned individuals and attempting to match my stride to someone else’s only proved to be a strenuous and clumsy walk for me. 

One of the incentives that moved me away from  bamboozling myself and others was the amount of energy it took for me to be someone other than I was. Somewhere along the line I had an epiphany: why push myself into being something other than I was? Why not stop and shed the falsehoods? The questions I asked myself put me on a track of truthfulness where I found an acceptable stride for myself.

Why bother with authenticity? It is worth shedding falsehoods. Authentic people are reliable, dependable, credible and realistic. The real McCoys won’t try to dupe you.