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Your Walkabout

Dear Grandchild,

The Aboriginal people of Australia practice a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood called a Walkabout.  In past generations, it entailed a journey of up to 1000 miles where the young boy travels alone, proving he can physically and mentally survive the harrowing dangers of the Outback to prove his bravery and value to society.  He must also use his time alone to reflect upon his relationship to those who have been through the same rite of passage, honor and connect with his ancestors and in doing so, will lose his sense of helplessness, discover his personal power, who he is as an individual, and find his place in society.  

One of life’s great adventures for you will be this same “walkabout” discovery of one’s self.  Everyone must enter the desert alone and in that journey you will uncover thoughts and emotions that will confuse and frustrate you, hearing voices that will conjure uncomfortable memories.  The darkness of night will be daunting and at times painful.  Everyone must travel this path if they wish to find their true self, some with greater or lesser success, along with those who refuse the challenge of this journey as too frightening, choosing instead the comfort of delusional superiority, false control, and demanding will power.

Ancient philosophers, theologians, and great thinkers throughout time have debated and struggled with the idea and source of our emotions and individual identity, providing theories, salvation messages, and solutions to try and explain it all.  To actively struggle with dark shadows and blinding shafts of self-discovery is the path one walks into a life of peace, contentment and well-being, the signs of which are a healthy and accurate view of one’s self and in relation to others.  Some have termed this successful journey as attaining emotional intelligence. 

Conversely, the refusal to answer the call of self-discovery results in a lack of emotional intelligence creating a life of discord, dissatisfaction, and disconnection with others.  Disruption and purposeful destruction of relationships is one of the key signs that one is out of balance with their emotional intelligence.

There is nothing clearer to observe than when relationships with family, coworkers, and friends are one of discord, fear and anxiety.  It’s easy to blame others outside yourself, pointing fingers and saying, “YOU are the reason for my troubles.  If I just get rid of YOU then all my problems will go away and I will be at peace.”  A temporary peace is indeed experienced for a short time but very soon the unresolved and unaddressed inner conflicts again disrupt one’s life, triggering emotions that erupt and create more and deeper disruptions and disconnections.

Emotional Intelligence is about balance and acceptance, the appropriate emotion in the appropriate expression, toward the appropriate target.  As you walk through the hostile territory of your unconscious drivers, you will need to accept both the pleasant and not-so- pleasant you, your personal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a classic worth your reading).  It will be the unearthing of deep conflicts for examination and testing for validly and eventual placement in your life that will be your transition from adolescent dependency to healthy adult freedom.

My encouragement, grandchild, is to seek outside voices that get you outside your own head, give you a healthy interpretation of the life you are living.  You’ll know the right voices to listen to if they guide you to repair, restore, and strengthen relationships.  Voices that disrupt, discourage and destroy relationships are acting in opposition to your healthy self-esteem and engagement with the world at large. 

The true Walkabout will be a discovery of your own values, giving you the courage to walk your own path in harmony with yourself and others.  It will be difficult and painful and it will be well worth your effort for the peace it will bring your soul.  You will feel and at times be physically alone.  But always remember, there are those who have gone before you to ensure your safe return, giving you the security you’ll need to press on, knowing you are never, truly alone.

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