This year has taught me some tough lessons. Writer and philosopher, Aldous Huxley said it this way, “The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.” I will be the first to admit I entered 2019 with an almost youthful optimism that was met seemingly immediately with tests and cringeworthy object lessons.
With less than 500 hours left in the decade, social media has already begun the buzz of New Year affirmations, resolutions and the likes. Before you roll your eyes and relegate this to the junk pile of useless motivational talk, allow me to be transparent and share not from the well of my public successes but from the cistern of my most intimate failures.
As I do every year, I dedicate the final few weeks of December for reflection. Amid the hustle and business of Christmas, I am intentional about slowing down to assess my year in regards to the goals I set forth. It is no easy task to get real with yourself apart from the perception of others, especially on social media.
As I write this, I am navigating mixed emotions. From family challenges, unrealized business expectations and some internal contemplation, I am at peace with acknowledging this has not been my best showing. I believe lasting transformation and true healing occurs when we are brutally honest with ourselves. I most assuredly could have done better!
I have narrowed down my assessment of this year to five simple, yet potent lessons. I am hopeful they will serve as guideposts and empower you in 2020:
What you don’t heal…you will repeat: No one appreciates repeat visits to the doctor’s office. While chatting with someone last week, they were lamenting a lingering cough. When I asked if they had been given a prescription they admitted they never completed the full round of antibiotics. Baffled, I asked, “How do you expect to get rid of the cough?” And you could see the light bulb appear! Folks, you cannot expect anything better until you’re willing to deal with the illness…not just the symptoms.
I wasn’t always the best person I thought I was: Don’t be surprised if you are not the hero in another person’s narrative. Often you are the opposite of what you think you are. We hold ourselves in the best possible light. We excuse ourselves often and have an internal bias to what and how we really are. For years I viewed my early days of fatherhood as an attentive, diligent father. After some introspection, I have accepted that I was often edgy and impatient. I have since learned much better, coping methods and am working to rebuild those relationships. But truth be told, I had some growing to do.
All my problems have one thing in common…me: My mother had some of the funniest sayings when I was growing up. One that stands out is “no matter where you go, YOU are still there.” Often after hearing me complain about a teacher, coach or supervisor at my after school job, she would remind me that the only thing that was constant in all scenarios was me! It is far too easy for this generation to put off the blame. It’s always someone else. They were wrong. What we have to learn to do is take inventory of our gripes and get honest. What did I contribute to the situation? How could my actions have been better? Where is the room for my improvement? If you’re not asking yourself these questions, you are still not serious about personal development.
You are usually the last to see your own vices: Years ago I would have told you I was the most docile, gentle and accommodating employee anyone could find. After a few years of therapy, I can now affirm that is a lie! I get cranky as hell. I don’t like being interrupted. If things don’t go my way, I will sometimes freak out. That’s the truth folks! In your assessment of yourself, admit that you are often the villain. This is not debasing yourself or being overly critical. It is the process of real, vulnerable conversations with yourself. Brene Brown once said, “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside and constantly hustle for worthiness.” I have chosen to own that there is still room for growth. And here is the real deal, others around you have seen this for years. Some didn’t want to hurt your feelings. Others didn’t care enough to.
My mental health does matter: This year opened making it immediately apparent that my family was in need of a tune-up. Just as a car will gradually let you know it needs attention, so does life. If you are stupid enough to ignore the signs, you will reap a harvest of catastrophe. And usually, it will be far more expensive and inconvenient than if you had done the maintenance. Early detection is key. I learned by submitting myself to those professionally trained to help that it is not the load that kills me. It is how I choose to carry it. I have to learn to ask for assistance. I have to take a step back. I have to stay in my lane. And for God’s sake, I have to communicate my feelings better. Gone are the days of retreating into a cave of despair and silence. Mental health has come front and center on the national stage. More than ever people are open to admitting they could use a hand.
With the help of my wife, I am leaping into the coming year with renewed buoyancy. Armed with tough self-love and an arsenal of tools I already know there will be major changes. I refuse to repeat those tough lessons of this 2019. Like a student bouncing back from a horrific mid-term to ace their final exam, I fully expect the next chapter and year to be a success. Nothing is going to be easy. But I have learned that you don’t need easy if you are committed to getting better.
Opinion by Early Jackson
(Edited by Cherese Jackson)
Top Image Courtesy of New Direction Coaching Associates – Used With Permission
Featured Image Courtesy of Gerd Altmann’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License