There are lots of things going on in the world. Dealing with it can be scary and hard. But self exploration and understanding is more important now than ever. Many people feel broken. I understand as I carried guilt and feelings of being unworthy for a long time. More than a decade.
I recently went through some personal work that lead me to coming out of a dark “cave” where I have trapped much of my self esteem and worth. I will not go into details, but several years ago I got lost from myself. My ego got hit hard and some people said things and took actions that hurt me at the level of my soul. Instead of fighting back, I buried my sadness and hurt and pretended all was fine. While this seemed like the easy path, over the long run it was harder than just being upfront with myself from the beginning. My feelings of being at fault were not real, but were so real in my head.
In October I was listening to podcasts and stumbled upon a self-help oriented show that blew the door off my cave. The exploration of what had happened and my poor choices in dealing with the realities led me to shining bright light on my problems. The whole story is long and not that interesting, but the outcome is that I have been happy for the first time in years. I realize that all people deal with things, but without open communications our minds fill in the unknown blanks and create false narratives in our brains. That feeling I had of being broken grew.
This week I had another “ah-ha” moment in my journey. I was out on a five mile run and I heard a voice that said “You are not responsible for the choices of others”. Boom. I realized I was taking the things others said and did and connecting the dots to my self worth. Oh my god. I spent 14 years thinking I was broken in many ways. Suddenly I realize I was not broken at all. I am not broken. It is very clear now.
Even If Your Feel Alone – You Are Not Broken
The sad part is I cannot really talk with anyone about this. My personal desire is to talk through this whole situation, but not everyone involved is still part of my life. And others do not want to discuss the past and dig up old issues. I could force the conversation, but this would not add to the advancement of the relationships involved. Thus, for now, I have to face it alone. But it is clear now that I was not the one who was broken nor the one responsible for choices made by others.
I probably should have gone to counseling. Looking back that was the better plan than to hide for too long than then self-correct. There was a deep feeling of loneliness that as an extrovert successfully hid from everyone (often including hiding my sadness from myself). There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture and I understand. But even in loneliness I was not the one who was broken. I wish I had figured that out
You Are Not Broken – I Am Not Broken
While there are things that I can admit were faults on my side of the equation, I can only be responsible for the actions and words that I chose. Turns out I am not broken. Bruised… sure. And you are not broken either. Take ownership of your part in any issue, but do not let other people’s words and actions become part of YOUR identity.
Accepting my strengths and weaknesses has been key. I had to be realistic about what was true and what was made up in my mind. Getting past the parts I cannot know and not making assumptions has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
Men Over 50
It turns out that men over 50 carry a lot of issues around and most of us should learn to let it go. We should not expect ourselves or the other people in our lives to be perfect. Being slow to anger and fast to forgive will help you get past many of the bumps in the road.
Knowing that I am not broken has helped me. Letting go of the responsibility and guilt of things that were out of my control has been the other part that is allowing me to smile more.
I have made a promise to make age 50 to 75 the best years of my life. I wish I had made the decision to do this at 40. Looking back I wasted a lot of time being sad in my 40s. Starting over at 50 has been awesome, but I think the sooner we do this the better (if you are younger, start now). I am starting to work with others (as a coach or just a friend) who want to find their fresh start path to get past their past regrets.
Thom Singer is a writer, speaker, podcaster, and human connection expert.