Your Demons Are Holding You Back

We all have things inside us that cause us to act in ways that we would never accept from someone else. No one likes it when they are treated with contempt or impatience or anger. Our natural response to these kinds of attitudes is to become defensive and to respond in kind. Most of us have learned to not overreact to such behavior, but few of us have learned to control that behavior when it comes from us in the first place.

It is a difficult thing to really look at yourself and see all the things inside you that cause you to do things that push people away. Most of it is selfishness. We all want certain things and society has taught us that we deserve them, regardless of what our situation is or who is in our lives that we feel should be providing them for us. Some of us believe this so strongly that we become angry when we aren’t getting what we want, and many times we don’t even realize the behavior it sparks, even after it has already happened.

Relationships are extremely hard, and have been made more so in our modern world of artificial romance. An upbringing in the movie theater has taught us that love is supposed to be constant passion and closeness and adventure. The reality is that love is sacrifice and hard work. Real relationships aren’t about making each other feel good; it’s about making positive contributions to each other so that you’re both better off than you would be on your own.

It becomes extremely difficult to adopt this mindset if you have issues from your past that weighs down on your ability to accept disappointment. The truth is that relationships are full of disappointment, because you’re dealing with a flawed human being who has their own desires and sometimes they get in the way of providing you with what you want. It is our past that sets the foundation for who we are in the present, and if we haven’t repaired the cracks in that foundation we will constantly be struggling to maintain balance.

Relationships will never be perfect, because they are between two imperfect people. No matter how much we wish we could wave a magic wand and get the other person to act the way we wish they would, the reality is that love is more about accepting a person for who they are than for them to fulfill our personal desires. The alternative is spending our lives moving from person to person hoping to find “the one”, and never really finding happiness or contentment because there is simply no such thing as “the one”. Even the best matches will always have a lot of compromise required to make it work.

Having said all of this, some of us have major demons from our past that are reaching into our present and causing us to fail in our relationships with others. I know my personal issues involve an inability to trust others, and it takes a long time for me to truly accept and feel accepted by others. It stems from an upbringing that wasn’t horrible, but also not conducive to open relationships, as well as a significant portion of my life spent in the extremely controlled lifestyle that is the military, and then finally an entire life spent in the fantasy world of video games. This, combined with my general laziness, causes a lot of problems in all of my relationships.

Of course, my problem is fairly prevalent amongst men my age and younger these days, but it certainly isn’t the only problem that people deal with. For some it’s addiction, and that is an extremely hard cycle to break. Others have emotional needs that aren’t being met, with powerful urges that make them impossible to satiate caused by injuries from the past. Some people simply never had to think about anyone but themselves, and are incapable of seeing things from another person’s point of view. Whatever it is, we all have some demon from our past that is mucking things up for the present and future.

I wish there was some magic phrase I could utter that would banish that demon for all of us, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way. Fighting off this terrible enemy is about as hard as anything we’ll ever have to do in life. It’s nearly impossible to do it alone, and that’s why we need things like faith, therapy and a solid group of friends that can prop us up when we are feeling too weak to fight on. When we try to do it on our own, it only gets worse.

If you are dealing with personal issues and can’t seem to find a way past them, I encourage you to seek therapy in some form or another. Even if it isn’t a professional in an office, simply sharing your problems with another person can be extremely helpful. Most of the time we hold our issues inside and it isn’t until after we finally put them out there with another person that we finally feel better about things. Take the time and find someone you can share you problems with. If you do, you’ll find it starts becoming much easier to fight off the demon, and the people you care about will be just as better off as you.

What do you think about dealing with the past? Have you fought your demons and overcome them, or do you still struggle to live with the things that shaped you? What can you do today to start turning the tide of the battle and become a better person for the people you care about? Life is hard, and relationships are harder. Share the load with someone else and start seeing how your life can be so much better than you ever thought.

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Finding Hope in a Hopeless World

I’ve always been told that I’m a pessimist. My reaction to events tend to be very pragmatic, and I think this comes off as being negative because most of the time my assumption is that things just aren’t going to work out if it’s something that is out of the ordinary or outside of what I can reasonably do on my own. I always thought of myself as a “realist”, but apparently this way of thinking is just pessimism in disguise. I suppose so.

Previous articles have looked at how I have this huge blank wall in front of me regarding my work life and the future of my lifestyle in general. The job situation is completely out of my control, as I just have to hope for the right opportunity to come along before my current job runs out in a couple of months. My hope is to find something that is a remote position that I can do over the internet, preferably without a real time component. I would love to find something that allows me to go off and work on something on my own time and just get it in by the deadline. I’m not a fan of the “be on call for me” position.

On another facet of my life, I’ve moved away from my plans to use my travel trailer to see the country and I’m shifting back to my first goal: getting into a sailboat and seeing the world. My first three passions are flying, sailing, and motorcycle riding. I’ve had a good fifteen years of riding and I’ll never lose the bug for that, but I’ve had my fill for now. Flying is way too expensive to do on a regular basis at my income level, and though I was in a professional pilot program a few years ago, I had to give it up for personal reasons. That leaves sailing, and I yearn to get out on the water, see far away places, and enjoy day after day away from the craziness of the world.

The purpose of this article is to point out that I have absolutely no reason to believe that any of this is going to happen for me, yet I hold out hope in my heart that somehow things will work out. Many of you reading this probably don’t believe in God, and that’s fine. I don’t believe in forcing my worldview on others, and the Bible calls us to knock at the door, not bust it down. I bring it up because sailing has been one of the constant things in my life that has always been there, even when I was a child.

I remember the early years of my life and how I loved being on the water. My biological father had a sub-thirty foot sailboat that we took out on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time it was in one of the lakes in South Carolina that was owned by the Navy, as he served on nuclear submarines for most of his career. I loved every minute of it, even the distinct memory I have of feeling terror as I watched a huge shape emerge from the depths and then disappear back into the dark water. I was told it was a catfish, which in that lake could be several feet long and over a hundred pounds! One of the craziest memories I have was when we got caught in a big storm and the boat was pitching over waves; my mom was terrified and we were too, but I remember it for the adventure it was.

I yearn to go back to that and have my own adventures. My personality is very introverted, probably because of the life experiences I’ve had so far. I grew up in a very emotionally stunted household and my teen years were filled with video games and internet browsing. The only real social interaction I had was in the high school band program, as our marching band was one of the best in the state. My year in college was somewhat better, but I still kept my personality close.

One would think that the Marine Corps would have been what got me out of my shell, and to some extent it did. Public speaking is no longer an issue for me, and I’m pretty confident when I take up a challenge that I’ll be able to get it done to some degree. Obviously I’m not all that scared of people hurting me, given the training I’ve received, and I walk with confidence out in public. The Marine Corps gave me quite a lot, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to go through it.

Still, the biggest problem I continue to deal with is my social introversion. I can fake my way through a gathering and do the “extrovert” thing for a while, but it’s exhausting and I’m constantly waiting for it to be over so I can get back to the peace and quiet of solitude. Friends are few and far between for me, usually one good friend at a time, if any. There are a few guys from the Marine Corps years that will always be “pick up where we left off” guys, but making new friends is hard for me.

I bring all this up because I was having a conversation with a relative of mine and she told me that travel is an “extrovert” thing. I can’t help but agree, but for my part it is the solitude in between the “extrovert things” that I most look forward to. Cabin fever actually is a thing for me, despite my introversion, and it seems to me that after several days or weeks on the water without seeing people will get me in the mood for getting into social interactions. I already feel it sometimes in my daily life when I’m home alone for any length of time.

That was quite a long tangent, but I felt it necessary to share a bit about me and my life and my hope for the future, because the point of this article is sharing how to find hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation. You can see that there is a lot of desire in my heart to move into a new phase of my life, and while I have absolutely no reason to believe that it will actually happen, I still hold onto the hope that it is somehow going to happen for me. So many things are changing for me right now, and sometimes it feels like I’m being lined up to finally do something I’ve always wanted to do.

The great thing about hope is that no matter what is happening in your life, you can always look forward to the future and know that there is a chance that the things you’ve always wanted will be there. It may not be money or fame or whatever thing that society pushes on us as what we should want, but it could be something as simple as getting on a boat and living life in a way you never thought possible before. We can’t live without hope, and even in the darkest hours that tiny candle of positivity can get us through to the other side. Sometimes all you can do is have faith.

What do you think about hope? Do you find yourself in a situation you yearn to get free from? What would it take to get you from where you are now into the new life you want to live? We can always find hope in our situations, and life is always ready to make major shifts to change into something completely different. If we keep our eyes on the future and watch for those changes, we can be ready for them and make the most of it.

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Living in a Long Winded World as a Get to the Point Person

As I continue to write on this blog, I have been conducting research on ways to get more traffic to my site with the goal being to pull in a big enough audience to begin monetizing the site. It’s a lot harder than one would think it would be because of the way the search algorithms work, so unless you have an active audience that shares your content, you have to figure out ways of manipulating your content to get your articles to be looked at more than those who just write what they want. This is something I will struggle with for a long time because I don’t want to compromise the way I write to accommodate technology, but you can’t really get anywhere if you don’t.

One of the factors that has consistently come up in my research has been that longer articles tend to do better than shorter ones. Some of the recommendations go as high as 1,500 words per article, and while I can certainly extend my articles out that far, it just seems overly pedantic to do so. I’ve always felt that it was ridiculous to use ten words when five would do, and worrying about word count rather than focusing on the topic takes away from the quality in my opinion.

I previous wrote about writing for shorter attention spans, and the idea for that article came after I read a few paragraphs of an article on a subject I’m actually interested in and gave up on it because they just wouldn’t get to the point. The entire thing felt bloated and unwieldy, and as I sat there mucking my way through the unnecessary filler, all I could think was why am I still reading this? It seemed to me that most people are like this, and we could all benefit from writers who cut their content down to the bare essentials and convey only the words necessary to make their point.

This obvious is in contradiction to the statistics, however. Longer and more wordy posts apparently do significantly better than shorter posts that are more succinct. I try to keep my posts between eight and ten paragraphs, and I try to keep those paragraphs between three and five sentences, and I’ve noticed that hitting 1,500 words within those constraints is very difficult without writing huge, nearly run on sentences. Who wants to read that? I certainly don’t. I can’t even get through the first three paragraphs if the point of the article doesn’t surface by then.

It is one of the biggest frustrations in my life that my personality just doesn’t click with the way that the world works. I am a very direct, get to the point kind of person living in a world where everyone wants to dance around the subject hoping to impress you, or at least not offend you. This unfortunately has the effect of causing me to struggle to make it in situations where others seem to flourish. I am a contradictory person, and I hate conforming to the ways of others. It is difficult to be this kind of person when trying to use a system that thrives on conformity.

All this being said, while sometimes you just have to learn to change your ways to accommodate the things you need to do to make it, I prefer to stick to my short and sweet approach to writing. I could start adding extra superfluous paragraphs and use flowery language trying to catch up to the algorithms, but I just don’t want to do that. It isn’t my style, and my writing will suffer trying to be someone that I’m not. I can only hope that with enough time, enough people will come across this blog and find it valuable enough to share with others. Word of mouth can be almost as good as SEO optimization.

The point of this post is partly to lament my struggles with the internet, but also to tell you that you should always stick to who you are. Adapting yourself to meet the expectations of others, even if it means you might succeed, isn’t being true to yourself. It is better to have smaller success doing what makes you you than to sacrifice what makes you great to appease a wider audience. You might make more money, but you won’t be as happy. Fulfillment is in what we do and how we do it, not how much money it makes us.

What do you think about being who you are? Do you like this tendency to drone on in today’s articles, or do you value someone who just get’s to the point? Would you support that person if you knew that they wouldn’t make it otherwise? We tend to think that quality is everything, but sometimes you can be really good at what you do and still never get noticed. Let’s not leave it up to the system to decide what is valuable. With a little bit of effort, we can lift up those whose work we respect and encourage them to do their best work regardless of algorithms.

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Debt: Learning to Wait for What You Want

This has been by far the biggest struggle of my life. Growing up in a society that pushes the idea that you deserve everything and you should have it all right now, it has been nearly impossible for me to simply wait until I can afford things to acquire them. The call of awesome things is so strong and so easy to get the wrong way that nearly all of us succumb to one of the most nefarious financial tools ever created: credit.

How much money have we wasted in interest charges over the course of our lives? I know that I have spent far more than market value for many of the things I’ve owned due to interest charges. At the time it always seems like a fair trade: pay a little more to get what I want right now. This emotional decision has cost me so much money over the years, and when I think back on it I wonder how much more I could have right now if I had been able to just wait to pay cash for things.

Another thing we don’t think about, in addition to paying more, is the fact that we are locking ourselves into a payment agreement for several years, if not decades. Even something as simple as a car loan typically takes five or more years to pay off these days, and once we sign that piece of paper we are obligated to hundreds of payments regardless of how our life circumstances or preferences may change. After the agreement has been made, the bank usually has no further interest in your feelings and are solely concerned with collecting their payments from you.

This is a problem if you have a change of heart at some point during this process. Once you lock yourself into an agreement, you options immediately become more limited because you have this obligated monthly payment. I have had many times where I regretted purchasing something large because I wanted to make a change, but I simply couldn’t afford to because I owed more for something than it was worth and couldn’t trade or sell it.

I find myself in this position right now with my travel trailer. My primary dream has always been to live on a sailboat and cruise the world, and I’m at the point now where I would love to buy a very cheap one with cash and then live on it while fix it up over time, but I owe far more my RV than I could reasonably sell it for, so instead of being able to shift gears into a boat I’m forced to stay in my current situation until I can figure a way out of it.

The advantage of experience is that we learn lessons that we aren’t equipped to understand when we’re young. What isn’t so good is that it takes us making these mistakes over and over again before we finally get over ourselves enough to learn from them. After many years of working and spending, I have finally reached the place where just the thought of borrowing money makes me shudder. My goal is to become debt free and remain that way. I just don’t need these things so badly anymore that I’m willing to lock myself into a situation to get them.

Now for the political part: our country suffers from exactly the same problem. We feel an urgent need to spend more than we make. In our desire to push this grand social agenda that many in our government espouse, we have borrowed trillions of dollars against our future to secure things that we are too impatient to wait for today. We justify this by telling ourselves that we are “saving lives”, but the truth is that we are simply trading lives today for our children’s lives tomorrow. There will be a reckoning when we finally borrow so much that it becomes clear we’ll never be able to pay it back, and it will be they who suffer for it.

There is a lot of talk about “reducing the deficit” in our budget, but this is an example of our unwillingness to do what is necessary. A reduction of our deficit simply reduces the rate at which we borrow money. It means we’re still spending more than we make and increasing how much we owe. The goal should be getting to a budgetary surplus so we can start paying back the money we owe, not reducing how much we borrow, but that would require we give up our pet projects and no one seems willing to do that.

Our national debt crisis will end at some point in the future, but the question is how will it happen? My gut tells me that we are too selfish and inconsiderate to set aside our pride and start making smart financial decisions to turn back the tide. Instead, we will continue borrowing and borrowing until our financial system totally collapses and we no longer have any credibility in the world. I shudder to think what things will be like then.

How do you feel about debt? Have you mastered your control of it, or do you live like most of us do? What about our government? How much longer do you think we can last this way? Credit always feels like this amazing solution to get what we want, but we never see the other side of this incredibly sharp double-edged sword. If we want to have any chance of a brighter future, we must learn to avoid this insidious tool whenever possible.

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Learning to Be Content with What You Have

We live in a society that teaches us that we need to be constantly striving for the next level. Social media convinces us that there are so many people who have it better than we do, and as we watch these fake lives play out before us we start to jealously crave what other people have. This unhealthy desire forces us out of a mental state where we can find peace and contentment and casts us down into a pit of despair and self loathing.

It is incredibly hard to ignore the success of others. Part of our biological make up is designed to compare and contrast our status with that of the people who surround us. This is mostly a primal urge to not only pass our genetic information on to the next generation, but also to wipe out the competition. It’s in the very building blocks of who we are to want to have a leg up on the people around us.

Aside from biology, our social structure is predicated on status. We have a natural adulation for people who have found a way to become successful at the things we find meaningful. While this usually generates genuine admiration, there will always be a small part of us that resents such people because we wonder why they were able to do it and not us. Why should they be so successful while we toil at the bottom of the food chain?

The most interesting part to me about all of this is not the jealousy of those who haven’t made it, however, but the attitude of dissatisfaction that even very successful people can impose upon themselves. There is a part of us that has a certain end goal in mind, and as long as we haven’t reached that point we feel as if we simply haven’t made it. We look at what we have and it just isn’t good enough, no matter how much money we might make or how well other people might see us.

The world today is filled with angst. Most of it is probably justified, but a lot of it is simply an inability to be content with what we already have. All we can see is our dreams for the future and that our lives today don’t match that yet. Rather than be grateful for what we have accomplished so far, we struggle to find happiness in the present because of our yearning for the future.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue pushing toward the next step in our lives. Being content with what we have doesn’t have to mean that we stop trying to move forward. It simply means that we don’t allow what we haven’t earned yet to become a weight we carry on our shoulders. We look at what we have and allow ourselves to be proud of it, and make a rational decision to continue down the path.

Our lives have many facets that we have to manage all at once, and one of them is learning to be happy. It isn’t a feeling that we have and try to hold onto, but a state of mind that we have to cultivate and incorporate into who we are. Searching for a feeling will usually result in disappointment, but a disciplined system of choosing to be happy about your life can make all the difference in the world. You’ll never feel happy all the time, but your life can be happy if you choose it.

Perhaps the trick is simply learning to be happy with what you have before you try to move on to the next level. If we create a process where we don’t allow ourselves to move on until we find peace and contentment with where we are, it becomes much more likely that we will experience that feeling of happiness far more often because we are removing that feeling of failure that always seems to hang around. By fully completing one step before moving onto the next, we can be even more proud of what we accomplished because there is no baggage from the past weighing us down.

In the end, though, happiness is simply a choice. You can’t always help how you feel, but you can control how you think. When you sit down and decide that you’re not going to allow dissatisfaction to become a major influence in your life, you stand a much better chance of staving off the kind of depression that so many of us struggle with every day. Take a hard look at what you have accomplished and decide if it’s really as bad as your feelings are telling you it is. The likelihood is that you’ll be very surprised at how you really feel.

What do you think about being content? Is it a way of giving up, or can it help you to find a better life? What things in your life do you need to just be happy about? If we can learn to accept our accomplishments for what they are, we stand a much better chance of avoiding so many of the unnecessary problems we deal with. All we have to do is learn to change our frame of reference, and things can be so much better.

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You Can Learn to Live With Your Humiliations

It is probably the most uncomfortable feeling we can ever experience. We dread any situation in which it might occur. There are many times that we avoid something entirely because we so afraid it might happen that we become physically sick at the thought of it. It comes in many forms, and we deal with it on a regular basis, even if if we have the option not to. When it comes to myriad emotions we experience in our lives, few things are worse than being humiliated.

For many, the fear of public speaking stems from this very emotion. The idea of getting up in front of a large group of people and saying or doing something that makes us look stupid is a terrifying prospect. This is a normal fear that is not unwarranted because the danger is very real. Even if you are highly prepared, a single mistake can ruin the entire deal. Anything that is very public that goes wrong is a visible and quantifiable blow to our self image.

Even something as physically removed as this blog imparts a certain fair of humiliation. I have chosen to use an alias for this forum because I prefer to maintain a certain level of anonymity, but there is still a fear of someone pointing out some flaw in my posts that would lead to an uncomfortable feeling. My desire to create a reputable brand is under constant pressure from a desire to avoid public embarrassment, even if it’s just for my blog and not me personally.

But what about the other forms of humiliation that are more private? There are many things in our lives that are just as humiliating that we deal with in a much less dramatic way. These are the things in our lives that we are forced to live with because our situations demand it. We usually have a choice to suffer through the humiliation, but because of our circumstances we elect to live through it because the other choice would be far worse.

For myself, the biggest example of this is my work life. For most of my time in the work force, I have been required to do things that I find degrading because they either weren’t part of my original employment agreement, or were tasks of personal servitude that I had to put up with because I needed my job. These sorts of things continue to this day and are one of the primary reasons I started this blog. In my desire to escape from traditional employment relationships, I hope to turn this into my own self-employment opportunity. Until that happens, however, I will be forced to live with the daily humiliation of being at the beck and call of an employer who sees me as nothing more than a servant.

I am certainly not the only person who deals with this issue. We all have situations in our lives that are privately humiliating. People in our lives impose upon us for something they want or need, and to keep our situation from getting worse we choose to submit to those things. Though we understand that the cost of that humiliation is typically less than the cost of the alternative, we can’t help but be upset by the fact that we had to feel that way in the first place.

How do we deal with the effects of this private hell we sometimes have to live with? Part of is is recognizing it for what it is. Our natural reaction is to become angry, and it’s ok to feel that way at first, but at some point we have to look at what is happening to us and recognize the objective facts about the situation. When we look at the cost of each option and realize that we chose the least of all evils by accepting that feeling, it becomes easier to live with.

Another part of it is finding ways to be hopeful for the future. If you can start positioning yourself to get out of the situation, it become a bit easier to live with it because you know there is a definite end to it at some point in the near future. Rather than just living with it and risking your attitude degrading to the point that things just blow up, start looking for other opportunities. Even the search itself can make you feel better, even if you aren’t finding success in it.

Lastly, get support from friends and family. They may not be able to fix the situation for you, but just sharing your issues can be very helpful. I tend to be a loner and hold my issues inside, but when I’m able to share my problems with my partner I usually feel much better. A burden shared makes the weight feel so much lighter. It takes little to hear someone else’s problems, but it makes all the difference to them.

How do you deal with humiliation? What areas of your life do you regularly experience this emotion? Are there things you can do to make your situation better today? If we can learn to understand this feeling better and integrate it into our makeup, we can have a much happier life, even if our circumstances aren’t getting any better. Share your story with others and let us share the burdens together.

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How Do You Control Your Anger?

Like many of my posts, the impetus for writing today comes from something that happened this morning. A task was dropped in my lap that is not only not part of my job, but also requires a great deal of physical labor that is not part of my job description. This has happened several times in the past, and I implemented a system to mitigate most of the physical labor part, but still the people I work with didn’t care enough to bother with it and just did what was convenient for them.

I tend to be a very angry person when I get frustrated. My initial reaction to any situation I don’t like is to have that surge of blood in my veins and a desire to shout at whoever or whatever is making me upset. In my younger days, this feeling resulted in things like broken keyboards and even a hole in the wall once. But now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve learned to control this rage even though I still feel it just as strongly inside.

This is one of the hallmarks of wisdom. When you are young, you aren’t able to see more than just what is happening in front of you. The consequences of life haven’t set in on you yet and you don’t truly understand how your actions might have lasting consequences. Luckily for us, our time of youth has a lot more room for error and those mistakes we make early on tend to be forgiven a lot easier than later in life.

So, like I’ve learned to do over the years, I will complete this task assigned to me, not because I have no choice, but because refusing to do it would make me much worse off than I am right now. Sometimes we have to just accept the things we can’t change and just push through it. We would like to think that the right thing should always happen, but as we age and gain more experience we start to understand that life just happens.

How do we do this? The reality is that you have to incorporate discipline as part of your cognitive makeup. There is no easy out when it comes to dealing with your anger. You learn it slowly over time, with each occurrence of anger taking less and less time to get over until you finally get to the point where it still might bother you, but you don’t allow your emotions to control your behavior. This is one of those things where hard work is required. There is no other way.

One of the things that I’ve learned along the way that I want to pass on to those of you who read this blog is that unless you get extremely lucky and win the lottery or something, everything good in your life is going to require effort on your part. We wish it could just be handed to us, but that isn’t the way it works. The reality is that anything we’re given isn’t nearly as appreciated as something that we’ve earned, and emotional development is the same way.

The good thing is that as you work on yourself in one area, that disciplines branches out into the other areas of your life that you struggle with. Simply working on yourself provides compounding results. As you work on discipline, you are not only learning to control your anger, but you are also working on perseverance, patience, and several other aspects of yourself that probably need attention. Of the many things you can put your effort into, self improvement provides the highest return on investment.

How do you feel about anger? Do you just blow up at people, or have you learned to control it? Have you changed over the years, or do you still react like you did when you were younger? Learning to control our emotions is a critical part of being an adult, and once we can learn to do that we stand a much better chance of reaching the other goals in our lives. Anger can be a huge roadblock, but with a little practice and discipline we can overcome it.

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Life Altering Changes Can Be a Good Thing

As I’ve intimated in the past, I have a couple of huge life changes happening this year. For privacy, I won’t lay those out specifically, but one regards my family and the other regards my career. Both are objectively negative occurrences that I haven’t been looking forward to, and now that they’re starting to happen, I am struggling to cope with the uncertainty that is now my future. My world is changing in a huge way, and the challenge for this year is learning to cope with the new normal.

One of the things I’m trying to learn from all of this is that there is usually some sort of good thing that comes out of changes like these. We will never like when something happens that forces us to change direction in an unwanted way, but many times these alterations to our lives come with some unexpected benefits. The amazing thing about life is that even if you know what is going to happen, you never really know what is going to happen.

The career aspect of this year is terrifying to me, not because I’m afraid of not being able to find work, but because I am afraid of being forced to take yet another job that doesn’t advance my personal agenda. I stated before that I’m hoping to find a way to make mobile income so I can live the alternative lifestyle I’ve been dreaming of for some time now, and this forced end to my current employment could shove me right back into another job that holds me back from my plans. My fear is less about making money and more about the existential problem of living my best life.

The other big part of my life that is changing will likely have many things I don’t like, but also some things that will likely be better. Because it is family related I won’t go into them here, but I can see how some things will be better for everyone involved because of the changes that are being mad today. I still don’t like it, and a part of me hopes for something to come along to stop it, but since I know there isn’t anything I can do about it, I’m trying to find the positives.

These are the sorts of things that people deal with every day. They are life altering events for us, but events of this magnitude are happening all the time. When they happen to us, they seem like impossible hurdles to overcome, but when we think about it in the bigger picture, it becomes clear that no matter how difficult it seems to be, the fact that so many people deal with these things the same as we do can help us to realize that we’re going to make it through to the other side just fine. If they can do it, we can too.

Knowing this doesn’t mean that it will be any easier, however. Our emotions are intensely personal and no situation is exactly the same. There are many people going through things that are far worse than what my issues are, and they have a harder path ahead of them. Whatever our situation is, it won’t be something that we can think our way into making it less painful to live through. All we can do is find ways to strengthen our armor against the challenges we face.

This blog has been divided between various different topics ranging from politics to philosophy to self help, and I find that by far the ones that mean the most to me are these articles where I reflect on ideas that are meant to help not only you, the reader, but also myself. I don’t believe that any of the articles I’ve posted so far contain anything that you didn’t already know before you read them, but sometimes hearing it in a different way can help us to understand it more fully, or in a way we didn’t consider before. I certainly feel that writing it all down has helped me to solidify my perspective on topics such as this.

As I look to these major changes in my life, I’m trying to see the good things that could come out of them. My hope is that my upcoming unemployment situation will lead to something that allows me to move into a career that gives me the freedom that I so desperately desire. The family changes might lead to a better life for those involved, and maybe even a better relationship as we are forced to figure things out. Perhaps the good will simply be the emotional growth that comes from dealing with such a big challenge. Whatever it is, I hope I recognize it when I see it.

How do you feel about change? Are you excited when it happens, or do you feel anxiety? What kinds of changes have you experienced that you thought were going to be negative, but turned out to have unexpected benefits? Learning to look at the future with a positive lens can help us make the transition from one phase of life to the next in a much easier way, and might be the difference between the change being bad or good. It is up to us to make it happen.

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Figuring Out What You’re Good At

For one reason or another, I’ve continually been hired for jobs that are outside of my talents for the last eight years or so. My time in the military has provided me with the ability to adapt myself to positions that are not necessarily natural to me, and that has allowed me to be somewhat successful in these roles, but one of the biggest demands from my employers is something I have always struggled with: attention to detail. Thus far I have been able to make things work, but I have personally reached the limit of where my ability to adapt to something I’m not good at can progress.

There are many reasons that I struggle with this, but mostly it is my impatience that causes me to have a hard time with detail oriented jobs. As one of the first in the millennial “instant gratification” generation, I straddle the line between the old way of doing things and the new. I was brought up with traditional work values, but my attention deficit makes it difficult to function effectively in that sphere. It is only because the discipline I learned as a Marine that I’m able to push through it.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I am currently staring at this massive blank wall of uncertainty regarding my career. The end of the road of my current path appears to be approaching and I am uncertain of what to do next. I don’t particularly wish to continue trying to push that wall further down the path, adding more and more of the things I’m not good at to my day. My hope is to find another path that branches off of the road I’m on now that takes me toward something that I’m not only talented at, but also provides me with a sense of meaning.

So what does all of this have to do with you, dear reader? Partly it is to share something that most of us either don’t think about or are afraid to admit. No one wants to think that they aren’t good at their job. I would imagine that most people come into work every day doing jobs they don’t like and convince themselves that they do it because they can’t do anything else. We don’t realize that we’re not any good at what we do; we just barely scrape by. There is no satisfaction in that sort of work.

The other part is to help us to start to recognize this toxic thought process and to start really looking at ourselves from a different angle. Every one of us has something that we’re predisposed toward doing. The hard part is figuring out what that is. It requires trying different things until we find something that just clicks for us. After that it’s as easy as looking for opportunities to turn that into a career.

The hard part is that the longer you take to figure that out, the harder it is to get into the career you want. As you age, it becomes harder and harder to shift gears into something else. It might be the salary requirement that you’ve built up over the years after buying a house and a car and establishing a lifestyle you want. It could be children that require your support and you just can’t afford to start over. For many, a big hurdle could be your age, because most employers aren’t looking to hire people in their mid life to come into entry level positions.

All of these are reasons that I have that make it difficult for me to get into something new. I can’t really afford to take a pay cut, my kids need my help, and I’m old enough now that employers will view me as more of a liability in a new career than an asset. This means then that if I’m to have any real chance of moving into something more suited to my individual talents, I’m going to have to find a way to do it on my own. It will likely mean starting my own business. But what kind of business? What am I good at that people will buy?

Unfortunately for me, figuring that out will be a full time job all on its own, in addition to whatever day job I’m doing. I’ve never been good at doing more work than what I have to, but it’s finally reached the point where I don’t have much of a choice anymore. I’m going to have to start trying different things until I find that thing which makes me feel like I can make a life out of it. As I’ve stated before, I really hope it’s writing.

What are you good at? Do you know, or are you still figuring it out? What steps can you take today to start down the path of learning what your talents are? It’s one of the hardest things to do, but if you can learn to take your natural abilities and turn them into a valuable service, you will not only provide a life for yourself and your family, but you will also find the satisfaction in your work that so many of us are desperately searching for.

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Living with Depression

I try to stay positive on this blog. My goal is to help people to look at the world in a slightly different way than they may have before. If I can help someone to change their mind about an important topic, or at least make a decision if they’re on the fence, then I feel like the writing is worth my time. A person needs to feel like their life means something, and sometimes the things we do help with this intrinsic urge we have to find value in ourselves.

That being said, the last eight years of my life have been a struggle. Not really a financial struggle, like so many people in the world deal with, and I would never compare my suffering to those in that much worse category. Still, since leaving military service I haven’t been able to find value in the things that I do, mostly because I can’t seem to find a career that makes me feel like I am a contributing member of society rather than just a slave to someone who wants a convenient servant. It has been a continuing stream of reasonable pay jobs with no prospects for future advancement, with no real opportunity on the horizon to change it.

This is the insidious nature of depression: it knows no class. We look at people who have it better than us and assume that they are happy. They have stable jobs and a nice place to live and enough extra money to have toys and go out to do things. They might take family vacations or go on a cruise. Whatever the details, we tend to see these people as having no reason to be unhappy because they have it so much better compared to our own circumstances.

The reality is that happiness is not linked with financial success. Jordan Peterson maintains the idea that once a person makes enough money to keep the bill collectors at bay, additional money doesn’t increase happiness. I certainly agree with this position due to my own personal experiences. I have always made more than the average income in America, but that extra money hasn’t brought me happiness. At least not any lasting happiness.

Part of the problem is that we focus on the things that money can provide us, not realizing that those things will never fill the hole that is inside us. We can’t find meaning in stuff. It is at best a temporary distraction from the biggest thing our lives are missing: finding that thing within ourselves that makes us believe that we matter. It is only when we can find that one thing that completes us that we can find happiness.

I have struggled for most of my life to find this thing, but I have yet to discover what it is. Writing is certainly something I’ve always had an interest in, but is it the thing that will spark that fire inside of me that burns away this depression that plagues me? Can it be the things that motivates me to put more effort in than I have with these other life draining jobs that have just been place holders? I can’t tell that just yet, but I hope the answer comes soon.

Living with depression is hard thing to do, regardless of your financial situation. There are people who make barely enough to survive who are happy because they have found something that makes them feel at peace. Likewise, there are so many people who are rich beyond anything we can imagine who are miserable because they have nothing to give them more than a temporary reprieve from the horror of their own opinion of themselves. Money doesn’t prevent depression.

Do you live with depression? How has it affected your life? Have you found that thing in your life that will push it away, or do you feel like you’re lost? Part of living with depression is just knowing that you aren’t the only one. It won’t make the feeling go away, but sometimes just sharing our pain is enough to get us moving. Feel free to share it here and we can all start the healing process.

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