The unexpressed life (is not worth living)

I Can't Speak“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” -Franz Kafka

None of us want to be abandoned.

None of us want to feel rejected.

No one wakes up in the morning hoping they will hear someone say, “I don’t love you anymore”, “I don’t like the person you’ve become”, or “I’m no longer interested in being friends.

Nevertheless, we all must, at some point, exercise the courage necessary to let the people in our lives experience the truth of who we are.

Sometimes, they will surprise us with their ability to accept us unconditionally.

Sometimes, they will disappoint us with their disapproval.

Either way, when we are honest in the places that we need to be, we will discover what it is like to experience our relationships as accurate reflections of our real self.

Audre Lorde wrote: “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” 

What’s worse: 1) having an opinion that gets bruised? or 2) having a life that feels bitter and boring because you’re too afraid to have an opinion?

What sounds more scary: 1) Being misunderstood? or 2) being miserable and mundane because you never take the risk of being misunderstood?

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Ditto for the unexpressed life.

When “keeping it real” goes wrong! Pt. 2

In my last post, I began a discussion on anger. If you’d like to check it out, click here. This posts is a continuation of that theme. I hope you enjoy. Cheers 🙂 -T.K. Coleman

What motivates our responses to anger?

 

People who get themselves into trouble, by doing things they later regret because of an angry reaction, often defend themselves by saying things like;

“I’m not Mother Theresa! I don’t have the ability to just flip the switch and be all nice to people when they tick me off!”

Part of the reason why people feel this way lies in the fact that we’re rarely coached on how to deal with anger in a way that’s intrinsically motivated. Guilt and a sense of moral duty head the list of reasons why we’re told we should handle anger responsibly. We’re taught to be the bigger person because it’s the right thing to do.

So, when we lose our cool and blow up at people, we feel guilty and wish we had a nicer, more Mother Theresa like, personality. But in the real world where we must deal with pricks while striving to keep up with an incessant stream of societal demands, the morally superior path just doesn’t seem to offer the same practical advantages as less “enlightened” responses to conflict.

Ideally, it would be great to do as Jesus advised and “love your enemies”, but a nice punch in the face or a few choice words may seem to get the point across more readily. This feeling is understandable, but I believe there’s more to the picture.

Trying to be positive will only drive you mad

My advice to people is this;

Don’t focus on being positive or morally good. Just be selfish. Focus on getting what you want. Go back and reconsider your options. Then choose the one(s) that will actually take you there. Don’t make changes in life because you think it’s evil to be negative. Make changes because you’re no longer interested in self-sabotaging the joy you’ve always wanted to feel.
 

One of the most overlooked qualities of optimists and happy people is the fact that they are among some of the most selfish people in the world. I don’t mean selfish in the sense of being snobbish, but selfish in the sense of being inwardly motivated by their own desire to procure as much personal pleasure as possible. Because of their unwavering focus on their goals and personal health,  they’re often able to overlook and move past the typical disturbances that distract lesser focused people.

We can learn a significant lesson from such people:

Negative energy directed at another person usually results in positive energy being directed away from what you really want.
 
“A battle against anything or anyone is a battle against you!”*

Do you love and respect yourself enough to keep it cool?

Who really loses when you shout obscenities at the person who cut you off on the highway if you carry that anger in your body for half the work day?

Who really loses when you “tear someone a new one” and spend half the day reliving the emotions of your argument even though the actual altercation is long gone?

What’s going on with your health at that time?

What happened to that book, creative project, resume, or business plan you’ve always wanted to work on as you simmer in anger at someone else?  What’s going on with that as you moan and groan over something that happened 5 hours ago?

What price will you have to pay 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years from now for acting out impulsively on anger? Is that price really worth paying? Is that what you really want?

Keeping it cool isn’t about pleasing God, making your mother proud, or impressing your therapist. Keeping it cool is really about keeping it real with your dreams, passions, and desires. It’s about loving yourself enough to not allow your positive creative energy to be wasted and consumed by your prolonged contempt of another person.

I’m not done with this topic. In my next post, I’d like to address the practical side of dealing with  anger just a bit more by painting a broader picture of what it means to keep it real. Then, I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to process these very powerful feelings in a healthy stress-relieving way.

That’s my two cents for the day. I look forward to exploring this topic further with you. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to share.

Create a great day,

T.K. Coleman

* A quote by Esther Hicks

When “keeping it real” goes wrong!

There are moments in life when people successfully get under our skin and “make” us feel angry.

I put the word “make” in quotes because in actuality, no one can make us angry without our consent. We are the ones who choose to take others seriously. We are the ones who decide to assign meaning and value to the words other people say and the actions they perform. At anytime, we can do the work necessary to alter our perceptions and change our beliefs, thereby liberating ourselves from anger.

Regardless of our personal responsibility, however, there are certainly moments when people seem to make us angry. What can we do in moments like this? How do we get through the day when dealing with someone who pushes all the right buttons and makes us feel as if steam is rising up through our heads?

Our own worst enemy

Usually when we find ourselves in the presence of a provocative person, we’re keenly aware of some simple action we could take to alleviate the situation and move on. In some cases, however, we choose to opt for a path that only escalates the tension.

A common example:

When someone cuts us off on the highway, we could just choose to give way, leave them alone, and be thankful that we were alert enough to make a smart driving decision that ensured our safety. But instead, we find ourselves honking the horn relentlessly, while shouting or signaling obscenities to a driver we probably wont change and will likely never encounter again.

Not all of us struggle with road rage, but the theme is common to a variety of scenarios. We’re going through life minding our own business. Someone does something we don’t approve of and, although we praise the idea of being the bigger person in theory, it feels far more gratifying in the moment to protest, insult, have the last word, or give that individual a piece of our minds in some shape or fashion.

When keeping it real goes wrong

The comedian, David Chapelle, once did a segment on his hourly sketch show titled “When keeping it real goes wrong.”

This segment involved someone who was the victim of some minor slight directed at him by an insensitive party. At the precise moment of the offense, the victim would be faced with a dilemma: Do they choose to let things slide and “keep it cool” or do they “keep it real” by retaliating? Of course, with this being a comedy sketch, the victim would always choose to keep it real.

Unfortunately, there was usually some factor at play that the victim could not have anticipated; Perhaps the person they lashed back at was a 3rd degree black belt in martial arts who was out looking for a good fight or something else of that sort. Whatever the particulars, it suffices to say that it always ended in a humiliating manner for the person who kept it real.

This sketch provides a humorous, yet poignant, illustration of how being the bigger person may not only be the noble way of dealing with anger inducing people, but also the practical and safe way as well.

In my next post, I’ll elucidate this point and make a case for why certain socially acceptable and seemingly instinctive responses to anger may not be as harmless as we suppose. I’ll then provide my two cents on how to maintain control and be the bigger person when you feel your buttons are being pushed.

I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman