Saturday, March 10, 2012

Heads Hidden. Asses Exposed.

Can you believe it's March already? This year is moving right along! How are things going with your year?  You may remember reading my blog post New Year, Right People and the list I mentioned, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.  Let's talk about the second item on that list:

Stop running from your problems.Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. We’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.

I know far too many people who run away from problems, conflicts and issues in the hopes they will go away, even hoping others will forget about them. Sweeping them under the rug and pretending they are non-issues makes for a very bumpy walk that only leads to stumbling even more in life. Ignoring problems, conflicts, and issues doesn't solve anything, and more often than not makes matters worse.

I use to be someone who ran from problems, especially conflict. I didn't want anyone to dislike me, the result of a very challenged and low self-esteem. I, like many of us, was raised by well-meaning parents who pointed out all my faults, criticized me for one thing or another, and told me how I could be, should be, and to be better than what I was.  In order to be liked and accepted, not only by others, but most importantly, so that I may like and accept myself, I didn't deal with anything when strife and challenge took place. Not dealing with anything means: I didn't stand up for myself when I needed to when I was being wronged, and; admitting when I was in the wrong (because then, I'd prove my parents right that I was less than perfect). I lived thirty-plus years this way, and it was during this time I experienced some rather miserable experiences in my life: struggles with high school and college, depression, financial challenges and failures, a failed marriage and many failed relationships, and unhappy job experiences.

When I began to look at my stuff, that is all my emotional and mental baggage I'd been toting around for over three decades and that had weighed me down, I began to face past and current issues I'd ignored. Some issues were with other people long gone from my life, but I dealt with the issues anyway in their absence so I may resolve and forgive them, and how I showed up in those relationships, friendships, and situations. Some issues were with myself; unproductive and devaluing choices I made over the course of my young adult life that I needed to accept, forgive and free myself of the guilt I felt, and own the blame I'd placed on others.

Today, I face problems head-on, and do whatever I can to address and resolve them. Sometimes, if it involves another person unwilling to participate in the “working things out” process, there's little I can do about that, but know I tried, then come to personal peace and forgiveness with him or her, and for myself. Instead of reacting in an emotional knee-jerk reaction, a common practice of mine from the past, I now take a step back, breathe deeply, and apply a 24-hour rule. During this time, I work through the emotional upset and intensity around it, meditate so I find my center and clarity. As stated above, we're met to “feel” these emotions, so allowing them to express, best done in private (because doing so publicly only creates more drama and a new set of problems, issues and conflicts), helps me purge them. Then, I can see the situation with a clearer mind and open heart. Taking this time and space to “process” facilitates “cooling off” which lends to a maturer, calmer approach towards a positive resolution when addressing the matter. Many fail to use this approach and fly off the handle, especially today on Facebook. Admittedly, taking a step back verses reacting in the upset wasn't easy at first.  But I've found with conscious effort and practice, I've experienced firsthand how much more smoothly and quickly things work out and greater peace it produces in my life.

In facing our problems, we learn about ourselves, and how we sometimes show up in less than stellar ways. Doing so also helps us recognize within us unfinished business from a past hurt or disappointment. Too many times, these unhealed wounds are projected towards another innocent, putting that person in the role of “punching bag”. The more we face our problems, the more empowered we are in having our voice and effectively dealing with them in a meaningful way.

Here's another way of looking at this: If we keep sticking our heads in the sand when problems arise, remember our asses are left sticking up in the air, open and vulnerable for everyone to take a piece of it.  When we pull our heads out of the ground, turn around and face whatever unfinished business is nipping at our hind-end, we will feel less pain, less hurt, less misery, and less stress in our life. 

Life is never without its problems. When we face life head-on, we take part in creating an opportunity to enjoy peace, tranquility, personal empowerment, wisdom and harmony in our own lives.