There is nothing so powerful and important to our personal growth, as self-reflection, coupled with the ability to be truthful with ourselves. The ability to think deeply and to examine our self is not just powerful, but a gift. “The unexamined life is not worth living”, says Socrates. From childhood we were taught about honesty; never lie but tell the truth always. How many of us were punished as children for telling lies? However, I am certain that most of us have not been taught that it is just as important to be truthful with ourselves.
As my birthday was approaching, I spent some time in self-reflection. I particularly examined my life over the past year. On my last birthday I shared about The 5 Most Important Lessons I Learned by Age 45. I want to make that kind of post, somewhat of a tradition here on Inspire. Thus, in celebration of this year’s birthday, I am going to share what I believe to be the two most important lessons I learned this past year.
Lesson #1 – Respect the Right of Other’s to Choose
I have written before about the power to choose. We have the power to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. According to Viktor Frankl, it is the last of human freedoms and cannot be taken from a man.
What I have not written about before is our responsibility, to accept and respect the right plus the power, of others to choose. There are times when we feel hurt, frustrated and worried about our loved ones, or over the behaviors and choices of others. However, I have learned that life consists of a series of choices. How we respond to the choices and behaviors of others, is also a choice.
When we feel hurt, disappointed, and frustrated by others or over the choices they have made, we can choose not to take their behavior personally. Yes, we want what is best for those around us, but we must respect their right to choose. Even when we do not agree, it is still their right, to choose. I am not saying that this will make the situation go away or cause the pain to lessen. But it can certainly help to alleviate or prevent all together, self-loathing as well as anger over the situation. It can also help us process the situation and invite healing.
Over the course of the past year I encountered situations which taught me to respect the right of the others to choose, even when I did not agree with their choices. When I did that, situations became more bearable, I felt less hurt and it became easier to let situations go. When we accept and respect a person’s right to choose their behavior, attitude, as well as make their own choices and decisions, half our emotional work is done, when facing those difficult situations.
Lesson #2 Live in the Moment While Allowing Others the Freedom to Leave
There are times when we meet people or have an experience which was positive and enjoyable. As a result of that experience we begin to have expectations. Maybe we expect a strong friendship to develop or we expect the situation or experience to be repeated. But I have learned not to develop expectations based on these encounters. To do so is like expecting every person you date to become a marriage partner.
Enjoy the moment, enjoy the encounter or experience, fully immerse yourself in it, fully embrace it, acknowledge its impact and the value it brought to your life at that present time, but do not develop expectations. Having an enjoyable or meaningful interaction with someone does not mean that they are meant to become a lifelong friend, business partner or life partner.
I have had more than one experience this past year that brought this lesson home hard for me. But there is this one particular experience where I ended up feeling completely ‘ghosted’ by someone. I eventually accepted that this person was not meant to be with me on my journey. I chose to focus only on the value of our encounter. Living in the moment. Embracing the moment.
Even when I have a good day, I try not to devalue it as I did in the past, by worrying about what’s ahead the following day or weeks of or even about trying to replicate the day’s experience some other time. I have learned to live in the moment and enjoy it. Matthew 6:34 reminds us, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (MSG)
Allow others to Leave
In Tyler Perry’s production of, Madea Goes to Jail, Madea gave the following monologue, which came to mind as I am writing this. I am sharing a rather large portion of it here, for immediacy of the message, the fact that it adds value to the point I am making and because I love it so much. Here also is the link to a YouTube video of the entire monologue.
“If somebody wants to walk out of your life, let – them – go! Some people are meant to come into your life for a lifetime, some for only a season and you got to know which is which. And you’re always messing up when you mix those seasonal people up with lifetime expectations. Some people are like leaves on a tree. When the wind blows, they’re over here, they’re unstable. When seasons change they wither and die, they’re gone. That’s alright. Most people are like that, they’re just there to take from the tree. They’re not there to do anything but take and give shade every now and then. That’s all they can do. But don’t get mad at people like that, that’s who they are. That’s all they were put on this earth to be. A leaf. Some people are like a branch on that tree. You have to be careful with those branches too, because they’ll fool you. They’ll make you think they’re a good friend and they’re real strong but the minute you step out there on them, they’ll break and leave you high and dry. But if you find 2 or 3 people in your life that’s like the roots at the bottom of that tree you are blessed. Those are the kind of people that aren’t going nowhere. If those roots weren’t there, that tree couldn’t live. A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it… just let it go. Let folks go.”
Learn to identify the leaves, the branches, and the roots in your life, and live in the moment. Do not go having lifetime expectations from people who are meant to be seasonal in your life. To those around you, which part of the tree are you? A leaf, a branch, or a root? It may be unrealistic to think that we can be a root to everyone we meet or to everyone in our lives. To some we may just have to be a leaf, giving some shade when it is needed. But it is worth doing some honest self-reflection to determine where we fall, especially in those relationships that matter to us the most.
Wrapping it up…
There it is friends; the two most important lessons I have learned over this past year – respect others right to choose, and live in the moment, while allowing people to go if they choose to. These lessons have certainly allowed me to better handle some disappointments, as well as contributed to my personal growth.
Overall, it has been a good year for me and I am certainly happy to have shared my writing with you for a second year. Starting my blog, is one of the things I am proudest of. I thank God for granting me another year of life and I look forward with keen anticipation to see what is ahead; where He will take me and what doors He will open. I also look forward for opportunities to serve others and to make a difference in the lives of others, because that is my mission.
I take this opportunity to salute my mother, who shares the same birthday as me, and who I know will read this post. Happy Birthday Mother! Thank you for always supporting me in my writing and commenting on my blogposts. I appreciate you.
Thank you for visiting and taking the time to read this post. If you found value in it please share it with a friend and leave me a comment. I would like to know what lessons you learned this past year.
Until next time. Nanaste ~ 🙏