Watch the video of this chapter:
Getting My Act Together
“A warm breeze drifted across the dark porch as pungent cigar smoke curled up into the early evening.”
My oldest son and I were enjoying “guy time,” after dinner drinks and leisurely chit chat when he asked,
“Do you wish I’d get my act together, get married, have kids?”
I mumbled something in reply, “I think you’re doing just fine,” not having had time to process what appeared to be pressure from outside forces trying to squeeze him into a jello mold of preconceived ideals that mandated marriage and kids.
Within a couple days, I text him a quick message, ” You DO have your act together. It just may not be how OTHERS want it.”
When I was struggling with the outcomes of my life, my observations were; I feel guilty for not living how others want me to live, I have zero semblance of what is described as inner peace, my relationships are like wrestling with a circus bear, people who are suppose to be on my side are not happy with me, and on and on.
My survival evolved into finding value from the approval of others. I lacked personal integrity, public or private authenticity, all because I didn’t believe I had value in myself, I hid any real feelings, secretively sliding through my daily existence, not making real connections with real people, without the benefits of false perfection through airbrushing and photoshop.
I had LOTS of acquaintances, very few that could stand the test of time and trial as they, too, disappeared when I didn’t conform to how they saw my life should be. I seemed to be taking flack from everyone I knew . . . Flack created from their own low self-esteem and inner demons.
The amazing part is . . . I thought I had to put up with it! I thought I was suppose to because I was the one who had the problem!
I was the one wired differently than others!
I learned to live the life of a chameleon; changing hues and outward patterns to blend and conform to the views of those around me, all to achieve approval, to survive.
Reading this, some at this precise moment would say, “STOP! I have the answer. You must believe and have faith in . . . That is your problem, lack of belief in the right ways.”
Yes, I have had those conversations and my reply is, “Been there – done that. While it may be true for you, that doesn’t make it a truth for the universe.”
For me, my integrity and authenticity, I discovered the following actions – actual physical thoughts and behaviors – to begin a path less rocky, healthier, with outcomes far more positive than the maps and directions given to me before.
To begin, be authentic – which means, be yourself even if others disapprove. I truly empathize with how extremely difficult this is as a person in the midst of figuring all this out, yet, its critical to know who you are and what you need to be authentically healthy.
To survive, you cover up, acting one way in public but feeling very different in private. Your life becomes making others happy, or worse, you too dodge and dart to avoid any displeasure seemingly directed toward you. Acquaintance – type relationships, including arms length intimacy, are convenient because they are easier, non of the messiness of truth.
Those who lack authenticity cannot manage, nor accept, the integration of good and bad in a world where both exist. As a result, when they cannot tolerate what they don’t like in others, they become deeply opinionated, rejecting all views not their own. They cannot be happy when others are happy, root for someone else’s success. They are never happy with themselves, always more concerned with image and outward appearances, continuos complaining, perfectionism, nit-picking, disparaging the choices of others.
I believe having your act together is an ongoing struggle to remain within a true and authentic experience. The defense mechanism for a lack of this authenticity and integration is a false self. . . which no one can sustain forever! It can lead to destruction, evidence by anger or withdrawal, with a possible lashing out, against yourself (suicidal thoughts?) or others (haven’t we all wished someone dead at one time or another?).
If I had had the skill to summarized these thoughts on the porch that night I was asked, “do you wish I would get my act together?” I would have said the path for a healthy, personal life is learning a new way to think:
Do not accept the judgements and plans of others for your life.
To do so creates a lack of separation between you as an adult and the former you as a child (you’ve seen adults who always need the approval of others or always criticize or find fault with others? Thats really a child who has not grown up!) Place their judgement for your life aside, allowing grace to accept them for who they are in their own struggles, without allowing it to affect yours.
Learn to integrate your authentic life with the world around you.
That means acting as yourself with all people, whether in public or private . . . not changing who you are or what you like or plans you wish to make just because doing so would make someone else upset with you. If they truly love and accept YOU, they would encourage your feelings and desires and want to make them come true. You’ll also learn who your real friends and relationships are. You’ll see them clearly for their own agenda and personal gain (or cry for approval) vs wanting what is best for you.
Authenticity and integration leads to a power
The power to accept yourself with all your strengths and faults, your own personal wiring, knowing you have value and worth. You might call this; the power of – I AM.
The power to know your capabilities, skills, and abilities, with a desire to make a positive difference in the lives around you. You might call this; the power of – I CAN.
The power to take action when you see a need to fulfill, a person to help, a purpose to accomplish, a goal to attain. You might call this; the power of – I WILL.