Continuing from yesterday’s post, I was building a foundation of learning to think for myself as I studied self-help programs, books and videos from a spectrum of people who had become successful in their own lives. That was very important after getting in trouble with the law, going from job to dead-end job and not seeing very much hope for my future if I didn’t shape up. However, there was a ton to come that would test my strength, courage and faith, including my brother’s 2008 suicide, and my own subsequent suicide attempt three years later (followed by committing myself two years after my initial suicide attempt).

…those damn courses weren’t working very well, it appeared. What I had yet to realize was that I wasn’t being fully honest with myself, or better put, I didn’t yet see the fact that I needed to change the way I was pursuing “success,” and even what that term truly meant to me. Yeah…I had to figure out what the hell I actually wanted to do with my life, and who I truly was, for that matter. ‘Not an easy task for someone on a deeper search for meaning, purpose and significance.

A Humbling Reminder

Patience and experience. Learning as we age, go through things and face challenges is something that never stops (hopefully). Despair and exhaustion are two very intense feelings that I know very well, given my intense inner drive and determination, and I brought them on like a race car with no brakes might burn out and crash (over and over) until the brakes are fixed and applied.

You see, the early lessons I was learning in those self-help courses as I moved out from living with my Dad and went on welfare to be able to afford my own apartment were planting very important seeds of learning within me, but I needed a lot of help in therapy, through maturing gradually over time and I had to learn the hard way on a lot of occasions. I have been somewhat impatient a lot of my life, so that certainly didn’t help things either.

I had to “upgrade my thinking” in several ways, both in learning and in healing past trauma that took place in my childhood, where violence in the home scarred me and made me terribly afraid of certain things, such as relationships with women and not having complete, total certainty about my future, which drove my anxiety through the roof at times, resulting in some bad decisions that got me into trouble. Your life is one that doesn’t suddenly turn “perfect,” as you know. It can often feel like a knock-down, drag-out brawl to stay afloat when life throws curves your way that punch you in the gut and knock you down like a freight train.

…and yet, we must keep going and growing to get to the good stuff, to have a deeper understanding about ourselves (self-awareness) and of those parts of us that sometimes hold us back from the success and joy we want from this life.

What I’m not doing is putting a cookie-cutter “3-step process to a better life” that I expect everyone to adopt and suddenly turn their lives around with. That would be horribly ignorant of me. No – what I am doing is speaking from direct experience about the bigger-picture of what I had to do to survive and have any chance at ultimately living a life I could be proud of, through the good, the bad and everything in between. It has been a journey of learning through courses, self-honesty, in the therapist’s chair, with my wife, friends and my Dad, to name a few.

You’re on your own journey, but remember: Learning never stops, and all these experiences are teaching you, whether you realize it or not.

We all need upgrades in thinking at times to make it to the “next level” of life. That’s all part of this crazy thing called life.

From the heart,

Jeff