What is your answer to the title of this video? To add a bit of specificity, let the following questions help guide you along the journey. When it comes to the way you communicate with your loved ones, do you need to learn a better way, or simply unlearn a few phrases that you normally use when conflict arises? Do you need to learn a new way to manage your money or unlearn a few spending habits that go against your long-term financial goals? Is learning how to eat healthier what you need or would unlearning how to respond to hunger pains be more effective? As you ponder these answers, I would like to explore a phase of our lives that many of us have forgotten about completely.
To help with the exploration, this section of one of my short stories, The Tale of Two Motives, will help me set the stage. Enjoy.
Jonathan hung up the phone with his best friend, Keith and realized that his Friday night was ruined. Keith just canceled their plans to watch the fight because his ex girlfriend, Kimberly, decided that they needed to have one last talk for closure from their recent breakup. Jonathan wanted what was best for Keith, but also loved that their outings added a needed component to his monotonous schedule. This would have been their third time hanging out within the past month; he enjoyed the time plus the attention he received when they went places.
Coming in at five foot three inches with his thick, square, prescription glasses and his buzz cut, Jonathan took advantage of the attention they received when out together. Whether it was fear, amazement, or attraction, with the frame and height of Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson and complexion of Tyson Beckford, women would always stare at Keith when they entered a room. Jonathan walked with his head high and the lack of confidence that he dealt with since a teenager was forgotten when he was out with his buddy. Keith mutually benefitted during their last few outings because Jonathan's constant questions about work outs helped keep his mind from thinking about what his ex was doing.
Jonathan took two shots of Crown Royal back to back and decided to go to the fight by himself. Instead of driving his car, he ordered an Uber on his phone then pulled out his wallet. In the section behind his credit cards and his outdated condom, he found it: the pink card with Fantasy's Gentleman's Club written in cursive. He was going to bring this place up to Keith one day but the chances of that happening now were slim, because he had a strong feeling that they would get back together. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Watch the fight and take advantage of some good old southern hospitality at the same time. He planned on a couple of drinks and a few quick lap dances. No harm, no foul. Jonathan's phone buzzed that his Uber arrived and he took one last shot of Crown before walking out of his apartment.
The following questions are not indicative of how the rest of this story goes; they are only to make a point for the topic of this blog. What if Jonathan started a relationship with one of the bartenders from Fantasy's night club and they ended up having a child together? What if he wanted her to stop working there for obvious reasons but she resisted? What if she stopped for a while and after their daughter, Rachel, turns one years old, she decides to start working there again? What if Jonathan expected them to raise their daughter together, but instead, he becomes a single father? What if he does his best to raise Rachel while never completely getting over the trauma that stemmed from the break up? What if his lack of confidence spills over into how his daughter views herself? What if her impression of women is negatively impacted because of the lack of her mother's presence? With this backdrop, imagine the types of emotions that little Rachel grows up around.
Before we start judging the adults in this story, let’s think more about the little bundle of joy who was born into a very complex situation. When she took her first breath, her entire life became dependent on two people who were still trying to figure out their futures. Emotions and environmental conditions started forming what Rachel considered to be reality. “Having survived birth, for the next two months, it’s all about making sense of their surroundings” (Secret Life of Babies, 2015). How much sense could she make out of their situation? Even though Rachel could not speak a word, within those first vital years of development, she was learning something every time she opened her eyes. “Most new baby skills are learned by copying adults” (Secret Life of Babies, 2015). During the fights, silent treatments, arguments, breaking news, etc., thought processes were steadily being absorbed into her mind. To bring my point home, I will end this paragraph with one question. By the time Rachel turns twenty one years old and realizes that she is confused, lonely and scared for her future, does she need to learn new life strategies or unlearn habits and thought processes that were drilled into her psyche before she turned ten years old?
None of us came up in perfect situations, and I hope the point of this week’s episode has been made. Many of our habits/emotions that are the hardest to control are so deeply etched into our ways of thinking because they started before we were conscious of them; subconscious thought patterns. The two parents in the previous story did they best they could. The adult Rachel could try to learn new life strategies on top of a very unstable mental foundation or simply throw in the towel and start from scratch. Unfortunately, by this age, the defense mechanisms have usually gotten so strong that more time is spent blocking information to prevent any more emotional damage from taking place. Once a job, bills, intoxicants, sexual interactions, etc., are thrown into the life pot, before you know it, a decision like the one Jonathan made after the three shots of Crown Royal starts the cycle all over again.
Four Pillar Action Plan Step: At this moment, you are very aware of at least one area of your life that needs improvement. What I can bet (and please email me if I am wrong) is that it stems from a low grade in one (or a few) of the Four Pillars: Emotional Intelligence, Health, Hunger to Gain Knowledge or Purpose. If you are courageous enough to look at your family’s grades in the Pillars and their current results, you may start seeing similar patterns. This is not to look down upon or to criticize anyone publicly or privately; the point is for you to understand the amount of effort that must be put into Re-Creating your paradigm. These habits started before you had any way of defending them from happening. Isn’t your goal to increase the spiritual value of your family’s legacy? Or is it to simply keep the same areas of opportunity alive for longer? There are so many tools available for us, but our weak intentions often keep us from increasing our urgency to research how to use them. What are you going to do to start your unlearning process today? Whether you realize it or not, the length of your life depends on what you do after reading these words.
Kinja’ Current Reality: Believe it or not, I still adjust my food schedule regularly because I noticed that the more I think it's under control, the stronger temptation tries to throw me off course. Since I have been an overeater for over thirty years, I am honest enough to realize that if I’m not proactive, I will slowly revert to a 300 pound person again. Even with some of my closest family members, I tell them when they invite me over, “Please do not make any food for me! I will bring my own.” I still enjoy their time and they know my back story, so my requests are never received as a form of disrespect. This is an example of the type of awareness and strategy execution that we must have when circumstances no longer control our future results. I am extremely honored to have my many shortcomings because as a Re-Creationist, they provide ample opportunities to work on making a better version of myself. To dive deeper into understanding the Four Pillar system, explore the 365 page manual at any time. Regardless, next week I will see you again in another episode of the Decade Series.
Secret Life of Babies. [electronic resource]. (2015). BBC Worldwide Ltd.