Starting over, again. It’s been the topic here lately. Maybe you’re one of those super disciplined and incredibly lucky people who have never had to walk down the road of “starting over, again.” If you are, then just know the rest of us hate you. We don’t wish you ill (ok, some of us might wish you a little bit of ill), but it will be hard for you to understand the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual struggles the rest of us go through when we do have those events in our lives that cause us to have to, well, start over again.
So back to the really bad pun in the headline. There are lots of things we can do for ourselves physically. We can clip our toenails. We can use a Flobee and cut our own hair. We can pop our zits, wash our face and brush our teeth. Important stuff. But what about when venture too far into the realm of doing something for ourselves that maybe we should have left to the professionals? For instance, have you ever removed your own ingrown toenail? I have… and it hurt big time! What about removing a skin tag or a mole? No? Minor elective surgery, like removing your wisdom teeth or a boob job… ever considered those as a self-help project? Probably not… or at least I hope not.
My little brother just had a serious surgery with a chunk of his colon being removed. I’m happy to report that he’s going to be OK (thank you Jesus and the staff of Baptist hospital). But consider this. My brother became aware of a tumor in his colon. How much sense would it have made for him to keep that information to himself, and refuse to seek out any kind of help? It would have been foolish! Instead, they consulted a myriad of physicians and went through a battery of tests, culminating in a team of people working on his body to help move him towards health.
Painful? Yes. A little humiliating? If you don’t know the answer to that, then you’ve obviously never had to wear a hospital gown. Scary. Beyond belief. But necessary, even vital to his survival? Of course it was!
Starting over, again. It can be the same way. There are instances where taking that task on yourself might be OK. Getting back into a routine of exercise, or changing your rest patterns. Other more sensitive or dynamic issues might require some moderate input or accountability from others. Losing weight could become a serious health issue need for you, and the assistance and encouragement of some people you trust might just be the ticket. But for some of you, your marriage may be on the verge of collapse, or you find your personal and/or business finances on the edge of financial bankruptcy. It’s time to send out the alert, run the flag up the pole and request support from the best of resources you can find! Stubbornness can isolate you to point of extinction; pride can push you completely over the edge. Don’t be that guy or that girl. Ask for help if you need. Ask for help if you don’t need it. Just ask for help.
And if that doesn’t work… then follow the wisdom of this old adage… and we’ll talk a little more about it tomorrow…
Starting Over, AGAIN. You know the feeling.
You roll out of bed after a restless night of tossing and turning, and stumble into your bathroom. As you stare at the person in the mirror, the only question you really have the courage to ask is, “Really? Again?”. The more frightening questions like, “Can I really make this happen this time?”, or “Do I need to find some help?” are usually questions that cause our eyes to dart away from our own gaze, let alone ask them aloud from ourselves, or heaven forbid from someone else.
But we start over, again, anyway.
This type of new beginning can be terrifying. It holds an incredible amount of potential, but those who have been down this road know that this potential has both a bright & a dark side. On the one hand, we have an opportunity to start fresh, and make something new, better and more amazing than we’ve ever known. On the other hand, we see the potential for this to be one more attempt to “start over”, but wonder if it will really be a temporary exercise in futility, only to find ourselves in a time loop that brings us right back to this same place in the near future. That kind of fear and uncertainty can be emotionally overwhelming at times. In the face of so much anxiety, stress or fear, let me offer this bit of encouragement.
Go share a slice of pizza with someone.
Here’s the deal. You can whine or bemoan you situation. You can wallow in it. You can give up. Or when you have a chance, and life seems to give you a chance to get up and take a breath, or eat a bite of pizza, then do it. While your at it, look for someone else who could use a slice as well and offer it to them, or give it to them when they ask.
Everyone you meet, whether friend, coworker or stranger is facing their own pile of worries, fears and challenges in their private world each day. Please people, understand that, and begin to let that affect how you treat them. Yes, you are struggling. Starting over, again, is hard. But so is their life. Maybe the day, or even your life would go a little better if you stopped to help someone else along the way.
Kindness is a Karma boomerang. The more you throw it, the more it comes back to you. Kind words are just as easy as mean words, so use them instead. Kind gestures are rare, so today, go be THAT guy or THAT girl. Here’s an experiment you need to try. Look in the mirror, and look into your own eyes for 60 seconds. Look hard enough so you can catch just a glimpse of your soul. Now today, go do five kind things for people who don’t really have any way to immediately repay you for your kindness. When the evening comes, repeat the mirror exercise. I think you’ll be surprised at what you see.
Compassion is a universal language, and everyone understands it. Your coworker who hates you understands it. Your kids who are angry with you will understand it (eventually). The stranger on the street corner will be surprised by it, but he will understand it, and he will be changed by it. You will be changed by it too.
Sometimes change is painful. It’s kinda like surgery. But not surgery on yourself. That’s stupid. Let’s talk about that tomorrow.
Starting over… again. It’s tricky business.
Why? Because you’ve done it before? Yes. Because you’re sick of having to do it again and again? Yes. Because you want this to be the last time? Yes again.
So what are the odds this will be the very last time you’ll ever have to start over? Are you laying any money down to bet on yourself? Odds are that bad, are they? Maybe we can improve those numbers a little bit. There are no guarantees that you’ll never come back to a place where you’ll need a fresh start or a new beginning, even over the same old issues. However, you can do something that could whittle the chances of that happening down to a tiny little piece of what it is now. How? Clean house.
If you think I’m encouraging you to pull out the vacuum cleaner and break out the maid outfit (please no… there are some things that can’t be unseen), then you are so off base. I’m not talking about cleaning the house you live in. I’m talking about your Life House, the “House” that lives in you.
The reason you keep coming back to this place of needing to start over, again, is because of things that exist within you that keep causing you to self-destruct or undermine your success. There’s a story of a family who came home to find their house flooded. They began bailing water with everything they could find- buckets, trash cans, tea pots- but the water kept coming. Finally, grandma slowly walked into the bathroom, and turned off the water to the stopped up bathtub… and the rising water stopped. Some of you need to turn off the water before you start bailing water. Before you grit your teeth and dig in to try harder at whatever it is you are working on, you need to deal with the core issue(s).
So how will you clean your Life House? I don’t know.
What? I told you I don’t have all of the answers. I can make a few suggestions if you’d like? You might consider these options:
- Talk to someone you trust to be honest; ask their opinion on what they think your challenges might be; beyond that, if they are a person of character and wisdom, seek their counsel on how you might clean those issues out of your Life House;
- Brainstorm a list yourself; hey, you may have more of a handle on this than you know; the giant problem you’ve been dealing with may be staring you in the eye; then take one “giant” at a time, and compile a list of “weapons” you could use to drive the giant out of your Life House. If one of the giants is “fear of rejection”, then maybe a “weapon” would be to compile a list you can go to of all of the people who don’t reject you, who love you and respect you; use that list of weapons to clean out your Life House;
- Do an evaluation of several situations, problems or instances related to your “problem/issue”; see if you can chart a time line of step by step decisions that led to each negative circumstance, and when you see a pattern, discover what you might do to correct that next time. You’re the only person who is going to be able to break those patterns and clean those same bad habits out of your Life House.
- Eliminate the negativity from your Life House, whether it is fighting to invade your work, relationships or your mind. Negativity will stay as long as you allow it, and it must go when you continue to tell it to leave. Negative thoughts and attitudes will undermine and damage your best efforts… but only if you allow it. Clean your Life House from top to bottom of critical self-thinking, destructive comparisons, condemnations from the past and other hurtful attacks on your present.
Starting over, again… I know. It really does stink. But you CAN do this. Beyond that, you can do this BETTER. Life can and will be better.
You know what makes life better? Pizza. Let’s talk about that tomorrow.
“It’s time to go back on that diet… again.”
“I’m going to get up earlier and start exercising every day… again.”
“It’s time for me to turn off the TV and catch up on some reading… again.”
“It’s been so long since I’ve had a regular time of prayer and/or meditation. I’m going to start my day off from now on making that my priority… again.”
“My life is such a cluttered mess! I’ve got to reorganize, de-clutter and re-order my life… again.”
It seems most of us want those things for our lives that truly should be most important. We want to be healthy, we want a consistent sense of spirituality, we want our lives to purposeful and on track. Then why is it that we seem to spend so much of our time with our lives looking more like leaves on the business end of a leaf blower? Beyond that, how can we bring consistency and purpose back into those areas?
First, just let me be honest. The real answer here is “I don’t know.” What helps some people may not help you. What works for you may be a joke when others try. Even more discouraging, there may be nothing that helps you in certain areas of your life. Discouraging, right? People that want to fill you full of “Positive Power” baloney that promises 100% success if you just use their methods, buy their book or take their pill are simply trying to gain some kind of power for themselves and over you. That power might be financial, it might be influential or egotistical, but don’t fall for it. There is no “self-help” technique, system or plan that works every time.
So why read the rest of this article? Why have this conversation? It’s just you and me, one traveler to another, talking about doing the best we can to win as many of life’s challenges as we possibly can. Maybe we can trade a few tips back and forth and help each other out. So here we go.
Tomorrow we talk about Tip #1- “Step Off Fool”. Talk to you then.