< Chapter 7 Chapter 9 >
What does being human truly mean? Over the years, I have found myself at times being very disillusioned with people and situations. Somehow when I was younger I created this ideal that when someone was successful, their problems went away. I believe that a big part of what created this mindset was a mix of both the media and our historical teachings. I’m not looking to place the blame somewhere else. I believe that my drinking and drug use magnified a major part of my disillusionment. But how often are we led to believe that successful people have no challenges? Or at least, not the same challenges as “us ordinary folk”.
What I have found is true for me, is that even at our best, we can sometimes find ourselves filled with doubt. I seem to meet more and more people who tell me that they woke up one morning and realized, that no one ever taught them the rules to this game called life. I’m not saying that people did not teach them these things intentionally. I believe that our parents and teachers did the best that they could with the resources that they had. Let’s face it, many of them were never taught the rules either.
There was a time when I would find myself feeling like I had been cheated. No one ever taught me about how to handle finances, or how to create a financial future for myself. I would look at my situation and think, “No wonder I am in so much trouble.” No one taught my mother, so how could she teach me? And it’s not something that is taught in schools. Not the way it needs to be taught. Unless you are born into a family that has already learned these “life lessons” or seek them out intentionally, you may never develop the skills you need to live a successful and fulfilled life.
I finally started finding these tools when I was 35 yrs old. As I looked around, what I saw was overwhelming… I began thinking, “I am $250,000 in debt. My credit is wrecked. The only truly deep relationship I have had with a woman that had more depth than just something sexual, the only woman who really knew me intimately, I met over the Internet, and never met face to face. What a loser I am.” Anyone else know that feeling?
What I am trying to say… is that even though I am a coach and a professional speaker, my life is not perfect. Even now at the age of 45 I still have times when I don’t practice what I preach. It is all a part of being human.
Just like my clients, I have to deal with a fear of rejection when it comes to business, relationships, and finances. I have tons of references of being a person who has been filled with ideas for new systems and businesses, and who was never taught a way to make the systems and businesses happen. So, many times in the past, when I tried to make them happen on my own, I failed. And I never failed “small”.
Just like my clients, I have heard that little voice that says, “I can’t do it.” And there have even been points where I said to myself, “Hey, that shouldn’t be a problem, I know this great technology that can help me turn that all around,” yet, I wouldn’t use it.
When I originally wrote this, it was the middle of the 2000 Summer Olympics that were being held in Sydney Australia. I watched those athletes with utter amazement. Olympic athletes represent the best of what each country has to offer and also the true depth of being human at the very same time.
As I sat and watched the games, I asked myself why I still had not reached my fullest potential. What I recognized was that if I were to be totally honest, I had to say, that I had never truly given 100% of myself to those goals. As I set out to achieve those dreams, I became overwhelmed with the same feelings as everyone else. And I let the doubts keep me from realizing my dreams.
We all have our demons to deal with, that is part of being human. The question is, will you do what it takes to overcome them? Or will they control the rest of your life? I believe that those athletes have the same struggles and doubts as you and I. They have just made a decision that they will do whatever it takes to overcome those feelings of inadequacy and doubt to attain their result.
Just like everyone else, there are many times when I ask myself, “Can I do it? I have accumulated so much debt, I have been so irresponsible, and I have dug myself in so deep, I can see no daylight, I just can’t see a way out.” I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had these thoughts run through their mind at some time. This goes back to what choice will you make? It is at those times that I also have to decide what choice I will make.
Yes, there are times when the obstacle does seem insurmountable. But I know that I have a daughter to be the example for, and if I don’t learn how to deal with these situations, who will teach her?
I have stood on the edge, like many before me. I have had points in my life where I walk this fine line; a line of wanting to find the reset button where I can live this life over again, or wanting to end it all; and the other choice of “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” as my mother used to say, and doing what has to be done. I’m not going to say that life has not gotten me down. There have been times in the past when I have been suicidal, but I knew I must push on. There have even been times when I have been so distraught, that the thought that saved me was I figured if I tried suicide, I would mess it up and make life even worse for my mother and daughter. So I continued to push on.
I can think of times when I lived by myself, cooped up in my 1 bedroom apartment, watching the world go by. I would get out of bed to eat, and work, and other than that, I would sleep and watch TV. What a life. I lived that way, knowing that I needed to change, knowing I had the skills to change, yet, feeling hopeless and powerless. Another day would pass, and I would lay my head down to sleep. I would pray to whatever power that exists to help me live another day, to give me strength and courage. When I woke up, I would pray for more. Sometimes… that’s the very best you can do.
There have been points in my life, where that really was all I could get myself to do. I had such high expectations of myself, yet I felt I was continually failing. I talked about it earlier, the fact that so many of us are given these high ideals of how historical figures lived. Then when we find ourselves having a hard time, we feel less than adequate. Many times we end up building even bigger obstacles as we compare ourselves to those we aspire to be like.
Let’s accept something. We are all human beings and there is going to be no “perfect” life. Not in this human form. Yes as a Spiritual person I do believe in perfection. But I do not believe that we will achieve it while experiencing this part of our journey. We have to accept that there is a Universal perfection. We need to begin to understand that life, is perfect as it is. What we need to start understanding is that life is not a test about who is better, or what lessons we are supposed to learn. Life is about experiencing being human.
Part of the belief that I have cultivated that has constantly allowed me to overcome any adversity is a “Spiritual” understanding that EVERYTHING is happening for a specific purpose. When we can come from that perception and understand that there is no right or wrong way to live, that there is no good or bad outcome; when we come to that place of higher consciousness and begin understanding that we are here only to experience what life is in a human form… then we can begin to truly experience “being human” and all that life has to offer.
You see I truly believe that we are on a journey. And the journey continues each day we are here whether we choose to participate actively, or not. Each day offers a new experience; each moment… can be filled with challenges, learning experiences and opportunities.
Recently while I was going through some of these experiences, I was looking at them as obstacles and problems more than experiences. I was discussing it with a dear friend and she told me that sometimes, I know too much for my own good. She said that I was trying to analyze everything rather than accepting the place I was at in my journey and enjoying it. I was reminded of a passage from the book Alcoholics Anonymous. It says that, “When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at that moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
For many of us, even contemplating that as a possibility is beyond our comprehension. We have become so caught up in the idea that we have to be “in control”. We have been taught that we need to make plans for our future and we totally involve ourselves in what our “ego” says we should be. Or even worse we focus on what the opinions of others around us are in regard to how we should be, and we forget that ultimately, there is a plan, an agreement that our spirit made with the universe when we came into this human form. We forget that our main purpose is to “experience” life as it unfolds.
It is a daily goal for me to remember, that life is more than what we make it out to be. Have you ever noticed that many times, we spend our time rushing through life, and we never get to experience what life really is? I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating again. It’s about being in the present moment.
When I originally wrote this section, I had been with my daughter the previous weekend, and we had the most amazing time. We played a board game that I played when I was her age called “Mothers Helper”. I had forgotten all about that game until she and her grandmother found it in one of the rooms upstairs at my mother’s house. There were so many memories that playing the game brought back. But the thing that was more important than the memories of my past were the “moments” I was sharing with my daughter.
Right after that, we played with Barbie dolls. Now as I got down on the floor and we started separating who was going to be which Barbie, I started thinking to myself, I can’t believe I am a grown man on the floor playing with Barbie dolls. But as we sat there, I saw the happiness in my daughter’s eyes, and I wondered to myself how many other people are missing out on this beautiful experience because they are worrying about what other people will think? How many fathers are missing out on that glitter in their daughter’s eyes? How many daughters are missing out on a wonderful moment spent with their dad?
Later, I sat there as she was putting some puzzles together and continued to think about all the areas in my own life where I was missing out on the many glorious moments as they unfolded because the moment they are happening, rather than being present, I am wondering what the effect of that moment will be on the future. Instead of just enjoying the moment, I ask questions like, “If I allow my daughter to do “X” now, how will she interact with other children when she is older? Will she become selfish? Giving? How can I help my mother change her outlook?” Rather than accepting the moment for what it is… I start projecting all these variables that I can’t control.
Something I learned a long time ago in respect to being human is that ultimately the only thing I really have control over is me. I need to constantly remind myself that everyone else who is living on this gorgeous planet is having their own experiences of being human just the same way I am. Each of them has made their own agreement with the Universal Spirit before they arrived. Some of their experiences are pleasant, some not so pleasant. And it is not for me to decide what their experience is supposed to be or to “fix” it. I am here to share my experience, strength and hope if they ask for it, but otherwise, this is their experience and it is designed for them to take from it what they personally need.
It becomes a challenge sometimes, knowing all these amazing skills to help people affect change in their lives, but in many cases, they aren’t ready for the change. They still have something to learn, or experience in that moment.
We all have to respect that each person in our lives is on their own personal journey, and allow them to let that experience unfold. Sometimes it is hardest to live by that rule when we are dealing with the people that we love the most. As an example; I have this friend who I love dearly. And right now she is going through a lot of emotional turmoil. Early in our friendship, I tried to do a lot of things to help ”fix” her. Well even though I had the best of intentions that was not where this person was in her journey. She still had things that she needed to feel and experience.
As I watched, I could see the pain my friend was going through, and I would constantly reach out and say, “When you need me I am here.” But she would continue to struggle.
The challenge many times happens when the focus on their journey begins affecting yours. Now I’m sure that you like me, don’t want to just abandon this person. Yet at the same time you have to realize, that for both of you to grow, you may have to. In my personal journey, there have been a lot of friends that I lost along the way. And if I look at it with all honesty, the loss of some of them was a catalyst for some of my greatest personal growth. Even though it may be hard for you to accept, one of the things I stress to my clients all the time is that you have to take care of yourself first. If the situation is negatively affecting you, sometimes you have to just walk away.
This can cause some confusion when people have been taught that they need to support their friends and family “no matter what”. I have people become very angry when I even suggest this. But many times it is your only option. There are two main reasons. 1) As I have said repeatedly… this is their journey and they have to live it out. And 2) if it is negatively affecting you, how can you truly support them? It is so critical to remember; how can you truly be there for someone else, if you aren’t making sure that you are at your best? How can you support them in making a decision, if you are not clear in your beliefs about the situation first? Sometimes we allow ourselves to stay in a bad situation so long, that we are of no benefit to either ourselves, or the other person. Sometimes, as I did with the woman I am talking about, you just have to walk away.
Some people may say that this is selfish, and if applied with the intention of being selfish, it can be. But when you truly come from the pure intention of saying to someone else, “I can’t be there for you on this right now, because my being there is becoming a detriment to both of us. I need to get clear on some things for myself first.” That is one of the healthiest things you can do. What you do need to do is make sure that you aren’t using this as an excuse to avoid responsibility. This goes back to being able to be self-aware. Knowing inside that you need to lift your energy before you can support someone else. And this doesn’t have to be a mission of going to find yourself and withdrawing from society for the next 5 years. It can be as simple as taking a walk to get centered, or meditating before you get into the discussion.
And I need to also say that there are times when you will need to totally pull away. I’m talking about those times that if you would stay involved in the situation it is either going to pull you so far out of your own element that you end up being hurt yourself by it, or they are hurt even more. We’ve all been there. We keep holding on, hoping everything will all work out. What really ended up happening in that situation was we end up hurting that person even more by enabling them to continue in the self-destructive behavior.
This is not a situation that you or I need to take lightly. A great book on this subject comes from Melanie Beatty called “Co-dependent No More”. I promise that it will stir up some issues, and when it does, take some time to think about them. Usually what we resist the most… is what we really need to look at honestly.
The point that I believe we need to stay focused on is that as we go through this evolution of being human, we are all going to experience highs and lows. We will show both our greatest assets, and are darker sides from time to time. If you can learn to accept that this is ok, in yourself and in others, you will find it much easier to enjoy this experience we call life. If you can learn to accept that this is about living through the experiences and allowing others to do the same, you will find much less conflict and much more joy in your life.
So many times we tend to condemn ourselves or those around us for the mistakes they make, yet it is only through those mistakes that we “experience” being human. And being human is what this part of our journey is all about.
< Chapter 7 Chapter 9 >
The Warrior Sage Part 2: Lessons Learned Chapter/Section
Lessons Learned Through Sacred Scars
Chapter 1: Understanding The Power Of The Sub-Conscious Mind
Chapter 2: Discovering Peace
Chapter 3: Living In The Now
Chapter 4: The Gift Is In The Present Moment
Chapter 5: It's About Choices
Chapter 6: Understanding Change
Chapter 7: The Power Of Modeling
Chapter 8: Being Human - What Does It Mean?
Chapter 9: The Cost Of Living A Dual Life
The Warrior Sage: Sacred Scars Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances and Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from Being Human