If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes …

As we go about our Life each day, most of us will at some point come across situations that require us to accept change – whether in our job, in our health, in our relationships with family or friends, in our finances … or in almost any other aspect of Life one could imagine.

There’s an old saying that suggests the only thing constant in Life is change … and if ever there was a time in the history of humanity when this adage was true, it’s now. In previous articles, we’ve acknowledged how today’s ever-evolving technology seems to have quickened the pace of Life – whether through inter-personal communications, or in advancements in safety, medicine, or science … change is the name of the game.

And If We Don’t Like It?

But what happens when change doesn’t really improve the game itself? Or what if we just don’t want the change that confronts us? What do we do then? Well, most of the time, we don’t have a lot of choice in the matter – we’re merely along for the ride. Change visits in spite of us, although sometimes even because of us.

I’ve noticed there seems to be two basic ways to manage change. One is ‘resistance’ … the kind with white knuckles and clenched teeth. This scenario represents change as something to reluctantly face, something inevitable and possibly even somewhat painful. But this particular perspective on change can be exhausting because (let’s be honest) with this attitude, we’re not really embracing the change facing us. Instead, we may tolerate it, endure it, even suffer it or bear it … but we do not embrace it.

If You Refuse, Do You Really Lose?

The problem with this strategy is that it is ineffective at best, and at worst can engender a resentment that could even become something more onerous. Adopting a resistance approach will almost always set us up to fail, or at least make us miserable through an inner monologue that fixates on “These changes are terrible and will make it impossible for me to succeed. I will resist them at every opportunity!” Such people are metaphorically ‘dragged, kicking and screaming’ into their new circumstance. It’s so emotionally draining …

The other way to deal with imminent change is through ‘community.’ Like the name implies, this tactic creates a social network that provides encouragement, support, information and even mentoring, all of which can help us learn to both accept and internalize the change we’re facing. Choosing this approach internalizes our belief in our ability to succeed, embracing a great outcome as if it’s already achieved.

We may have preferred no change, given the choice … but when the status quo is not an option, we must recognize that it’s in our own best interest to position ourselves in such a way as to maximize our benefit. This tactic helps to reframe any potentially negative energy into more positive and productive energy, and leans us toward a more empowering acknowledgement that says “I am worthy of success and I will gladly accept help to make that happen.”

Change Isn’t Always Bad 

So what’s your change management strategy when you find yourself on the threshold of a new beginning? Do you resist and become negative and disruptive? Do you sink into depression, feeling victimized? Perhaps you look for ways to leverage your situation? Are you able to go with the flow and see where it leads? Maybe you reach out for some social community support?

Remember, change isn’t always a bad thing – in fact, it’s often quite stimulating. It opens new doors, closes others, and allows us to turn the page and begin writing anew. Fear is most often what feeds our resistance to change, whereas Faith is most often what urges us onward. If we can only believe that Life is an adventure meant to fill us with diverse experience, we might be more willing to embrace change as exciting – even if we must bid farewell to the secure familiarity of our yesterday.

To quote the brilliant Greek philosopher Plato, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of Life is when adults are afraid of the light.” So … where does this leave you??

and as you consider this, remember to always focus on the Good Things in Life!

Who Can Control Their Past?

Recently, I received a sales pitch from a service that offered to help me search my family tree. It suggested we could search back hundreds of years to learn about my origins – to open the door to as many yesterdays as my family history had recorded.

I must confess, initially it intrigued me. Being of proud Scottish descent, I suddenly had visions of an early me, face half-painted blue and shouting allegiance to Robert the Bruce while brandishing a pointy stick in the air (a la Braveheart!) … and just for a moment, it was fun. However, the truth is that what I have already learned about my very early ancestors – and the harshness and brutality of life, death, and treachery in the wild highlands of Scotland – is more than enough to satisfy my curiosity.

But even so, it did start me thinking about my ‘past’ … in general. Not of my ancestors, but that of myself – my own yesterdays. I began revisiting some of the many different paths I have traveled over the years. I especially looked at decisions I had made (or had not made) and the outcomes that followed, and wondered had I chosen differently, where I might be today.

It’s an interesting exercise, as long as one doesn’t allow regret, bitterness or resentment to color the edges. Of greater value is to return to those moments through a more academic perspective and, applying what we know now to what we didn’t know then, imagine where those various paths might have led.

Naturally, some decisions won’t have been critical enough to have made much of a difference to how our life is unfolding … but certainly, some will. Those are the ones that can teach us the most and – especially with the advantage of retrospection – can reveal aspects of our current decision-making that may benefit from some deeper analysis. In the words of Spanish philosopher George Santayana, “… those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it …”

Nobody can control their past. It’s done, and permanently written into our Book of Life. But it still contributes to who we are today and who we become tomorrow – and the proverbial table that we set for ourselves.

The value of yesterday is that we learn from it. The value of today is that we experience it to the fullest extent, selecting or rejecting opportunities according to our conscience. The value of tomorrow is that we will all be twenty-four hours wiser and, therefore, slightly more evolved than we just were … and this gives us access to all the potential we dare entertain.

If we are to live life going forward, there is no time to waste on regrets or resentments; no benefit to holding onto miseries we encountered long ago – except for what they have taught us about ourselves and our world as it was then. We can use that knowledge to make a better today for ourselves, and this can compel an even better tomorrow … as long as we allow it. And yes, allowing it takes forgiveness ­– of ourselves, but also of others – of those who we may consider responsible for our miseries, our misfortunes, or our failures. But even if they were, what good does it do us to remain emotionally paralyzed within that time? We can only control our future, not our past – so the sooner we make friends with the story of our history, the sooner we can embrace an unfettered future.

When you examine those darker moments in your Book of Life, do you find traces of unresolved conflict lurking there? What steps can you take to release that baggage and send it back to the past where it occurred? How good would it feel to approach the upcoming holidays with a more peaceful heart? Don’t you think you deserve at least that much?

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the Good Things in Life!

In Search of the Average Person

As we enter what could arguably be our most frenzied and stressful time of year, it’s entirely possible that someone you know – maybe your neighbour … possibly even yourself – will quietly begin a desperate attempt to not collapse under the added pressure this season brings to the average person – assuming, of course, there still is such a person.

Like no other time in our history, the modern world has been propelled through a dizzying array of technological advances, scientific breakthroughs, human tragedies, tumultuous economics, and increasingly alarming climate instabilities. And if that isn’t quite enough, rarely does a day go by wherein our senses aren’t further assaulted by status updates on current wars, threats of terrorism, political corruption, ethnic cleansing, social insurgency, or just plain ol’ murder and mayhem somewhere – often complete with video footage, eye-witness accounts, and the promise of a‘full report at eleven’ … as if to suggest we should eagerly await further gruesome details. And perhaps some people do.

How Does It Affect You?

In the face of all this chaos, can there really be an ‘average person’ anymore? Aren’t we each struggling on a personal level to find a way to process this daily barrage of ‘information overload’ we’re forced to endure? This sensory deluge affects each of us differently, depending on the lens through which we focus. Some people are disturbingly captivated by tragedy, some are horrified, others are simply numbed … and there are a host of other reactions that fit in-between these extremes – including being somewhat indifferent.

It’s even entirely possible that the majority of us have become so accustomed to these types of news stories we’re actually oblivious to how they are subconsciously affecting our own emotional well-being.

We Can Depend on Each Other …

More and more often, we hear about someone who’s had a complete mental and emotional melt-down … becoming violent and irrational, and tragically taking people over the edge with them. It’s as if their entire coping mechanism simply shuts down and they just can’t manage for one moment longer.

It’s obvious how critical it is that we learn to balance emotional overwhelm with an equal portion of positively-grounded, healthy and life-affirming energy. While it’s easy enough to say “the government should establish some sort of assistance,” that’s really a cop-out. For a variety of reasons, not everyone going through emotional struggles will reach out to a government agency for help – so as a society, we need to make sure this supportive energy is made manifest in our own lives.

Can You Lead by Example?

We can actually become the conduit for someone’s return to balance, and it wouldn’t even take much effort on our part – we could first become more kind and loving to ourselves, so that we can show more compassion to people around us … whether we know them or not. We can actively forgive those who may have slighted or hurt us, allowing that people learn and grow from their mistakes. We can lead by example, becoming a role model through investing some time as a volunteer in support of our communities or service clubs. These are just a few ways we can help people (and ourselves) start to feel connected to the more affirming aspects of living in today’s crazy world – ways to help create some balance against the constant reports of tragedy and despair.

What’s Your Plan?

What strategies do you use to ensure your emotional equilibrium is balanced and protected from erosion? What growth can you introduce to your own life that will help you become part of the change you want to see in the world? What seeds of support can you sow to help someone find their centre? Remember that whenever you’ve had just about all you can take … you can always try giving.

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the Good Things in Life!

A Word About Rejection

I think it’s fair to say that one of the many things ALL human beings have in common is our yearning for love and acceptance. And one interesting thing about love is that regardless of the country or the culture, no matter the language or the laws, and regardless of one’s socio-economic status, love is expressed in mostly similar ways throughout the world – w­ith a tenderness that warms the heart and lightens the touch.

It doesn’t matter if the object of our affection is a newborn baby, or a frail and declining elder; it can be a sibling, a parent, a close friend, or a lover real or imagined – when it comes time to express our love, something inside us shifts gears and we become all soft and gooey.

Sometimes, however, when our love – particularly the romantic variety – is not reciprocated, it can cause anguish that pierces the heart … an ache there’s just no escaping. Hopefully it doesn’t happen often, but I’m guessing each of us has experienced it at least once in our lifetime … more, if we’ve been particularly unlucky – or if our ‘chooser’ has been out of whack.

It’s Not You … It’s Me

This can be a very challenging time, both for us and for our friends who have to contend with us as we process this rejection. Nothing seems to hurt deeper than rejection, does it? Curiously, rejection in its simplest form can be a fairly straightforward matter – like any other potential transaction, we put forward an offer and it’s either accepted or declined. However, it’s the meaning we attach to being declined that really does us harm.

For some reason, when we offer our heart to someone and they refuse it – or worse, they accept it and then abuse it – we tend to internalize some kind of blame for this outcome, as if our love was dismissed as inferior or otherwise devalued … and this leaves us feeling bad about ourselves. It’s a peculiar reaction, really, to willingly assume we’re not enough.

Wait … Maybe It Is You!

There are many opportunities for romance throughout one’s lifetime … some liaisons are deep and enduring, some are intense but temporary, and some are peripheral – which is to say, they never quite evolve beyond casual. They all have their season, and each can contribute a unique thread to the tapestry of our life.

The trick is to recognize which is which, so that our expectations match our reality. When we allow ourselves to get out of sync with this reality, that’s when trouble begins. One partner wants more, the other wants less; one partner becomes insecure, the other becomes wary; resentments form, injury develops, war is waged, and eventually … all is lost. 

We Actually Have To … Talk?

The key to avoiding such heartbreak is sincere communication … the kind where both partners bring total honesty to the table and are willing to become vulnerable enough to share their true feelings; the kind that can germinate the seeds of common understanding and trust, identifying to what degree their wants and needs align, and to what extent it’s safe to reveal their heart – and then invest just to that extent, and no further.

Sadly, this quality of communication isn’t as common as one would hope … and as a result, Love takes the blame for failed relationships – when it’s likely more a problem of mismatched intentions from the very beginning.

Leave That Baggage In The Past …

So, how do you communicate your expectations in a relationship – are you open to having ‘that conversation’ when it seems time to take the plunge? Or do you just close your eyes and take a leap of faith – right over the edge? And if by chance it doesn’t work in your favour, do you grow from the love that was lost? Or does your heart become bitter and resentful – and if that happens, who suffers from such a shift? Honestly, was there nothing of value that you can take away with you? No lesson; no cherished moments; nothing that made the experience a rich encounter?

If you are one of the many people who still carry the baggage of a failed romance, why not re-examine it from the perspective of mismatched intentions and see if that helps bring some peaceful closure for you. Try to not need to assign fault, but instead accept it simply as misaligned expectations, and release yourself from the burden of resentment. Your heart will thank you …

… and while you consider this, remember focus on the Good Things in Life!



The Days of Futures Past

This week’s article focuses on the subject of comfort … specifically as it relates to how we let it affect our life, in general. So the question would be “How comfortable are you with the life you’re living?” But before we delve into this, let’s differentiate between that which is comfortable and that which is familiar

When we speak of something that’s familiar, I interpret this simply as something that repeats throughout our life so often that we’ve become accustomed to it. To put it another way, familiar can often just be ‘the devil we know.’

On the other hand, to me comfortable is something that is far more than familiar – it’s something that’s been evaluated and found to be acceptable, pleasurable or otherwise desirable. We can be familiar with something, even if it’s unpleasant … and we can still be decidedly un-comfortable with it.

Do You Believe In Your Own Potential?

So … it seems that many of us have a tendency to cling to our comforts. We like them ­– they make us feel safe and secure, and­ maybe even successful. But is this fact or fiction? Comforts can also become extremely self-limiting, and can actually prevent us from growing – particularly if that growth requires us to actually give up some of those comforts.

Comforts can lull us into a false sense of security, encouraging us to reject anything that resembles risk. But with never risking anything, we can easily fall into a rut … and the by-product of a rut can often be fear. This fear can take root, and before we know it, we see it being attached to things that were once part of our daily processes or activities – we become fearful of any kind of change; of making bad decisions; or of not living up to our dreams. So we instead abandon these things in exchange for … that old devil called comfortable.

Comforts Can Become Stifling …

As we live from day to day, we obviously mature and evolve. But in order to do this evolving, we typically have to make room in our paradigm for new ideas, new experiences, new insights or wisdoms. How shall we identify which thoughts or beliefs can be replaced with updated ones? And what happens when we encounter unexpected internal resistance to updates that could potentially deliver tremendous benefits to our life, but we’re conflicted because we’ve become entrenched in our comfort zone?  

I’m not trying to give comforts a bad name … I enjoy my comforts as much as the next person. But it’s important to also realize that if we’re going to create a life of purpose and meaning – that life we’ve always dreamed of – we have to make sure our paradigm is up to date and accurately reflects and supports those desires. And in order to do that, we have to project those dreams into our future, rather than always clinging to the safety of our past. So, how open are you to embracing the wondrous possibilities of tomorrow?

How Willing Are You To Grow?

Nobody would begin construction on a new house without a blueprint to work from. Neither should we expect to build our best life without a plan. So, how are you preparing your path forward? Have you set goals? Do you know what comforts can be risked or sacrificed? What encouragement do you offer yourself daily to build up your confidence, strengthen your determination, and nurture your self-esteem?

We don’t need all the answers at once. We still have to allow our futures to develop, but we must also remember to acknowledge our progress. And even with all this, the most important ingredient in this strategy is to be kind and loving to ourselves as we move forward – patiently, forgiving ourselves when we falter – after all, we are only human.

I recently read that “… Just like in the eye of the storm, there is always comfort in chaos. Becoming aware of this, however, is your responsibility.”  I think that sums it up rather nicely!

… as you consider this, remember to always focus on the Good Things in Life!

The True Cost of Freedom

In today’s article, I’d like to honour Remembrance Day and talk a bit about why it matters … beyond the fact that its observance has become a solemn ritual in most parts of the free world. There are countless annual gatherings where veterans of all ages and from all conflicts muster in full dress uniforms, displaying their medals proudly as they await their marching orders from the parade marshal. The parade assembly areas will be abuzz with anticipation; pipe bands tuning their drones, and marching bands receiving their last-minute instructions. And there will be a complex undertone of emotions that each participant will be secretly managing ­– because, whether their service was long ago or recent, I’m told the horrors of war are never far from the surface for anyone who has experienced it.

I’m among the many blessed to not know this first hand. My father served in WWII, but never spoke about his wartime experiences. I’ve come to understand that they were shocking, gut-wrenching and gruesome – and I’m sure they changed him at a most visceral level … because war does that. My mother also served in WWII, as a driver in the army. It was, after all, a World War, so there was hardly anyone who didn’t contribute to the allied effort in some way, whether at home or abroad.

Wars today are quite different, though … they seem to have morphed into an all too familiar backdrop of our everyday life, without necessarily interrupting much of our actual daily routine. Wars still happen “over there” … in some distant part of the world where conflict seems to thrive – places already long-struggling against some description of tyranny or oppression … many times, places we’d never heard of before, until the bowels of hell itself erupted all over their landscape and consumed every pleasurable aspect of their existence.

In stark contrast, most of us continue our lives of abundance and security, with often only a vague awareness of the daily news headlines reporting on some war, some where, being fought by some country’s troops. We have become desensitized by the relentless statistics of current death toll, or progress gained or assets lost.

When It Hits Close to Home …

And then, suddenly … tragically … that anonymous and far away war hits close to home, as we learn that someone from our own community has somehow been sacrificed to that nation whose name we never had a reason to speak before now. And in that sadness, the world – at least temporarily – seems a much smaller place, with our own security perhaps feeling not quite as comfortable as it once had. For it has now become personal, this cost of war, this price of freedom. And we might even become aware that our loss is not the only one taken from our community – which brings into stark focus the reality that the long, icy fingers of war can thrust into anyone’s heart anywhere and leave a permanent, jarring scar.

We have Remembrance Day ceremonies to raise our collective awareness that our privileged, secure existence is possible because our communities quietly dispatch their sons and daughters to serve as soldiers bravely willing to stand up and meet evil at its own doorstep – to fight valiantly to either defeat it, or in the very least, contain it, to ensure our own land remains strong and free. Because of their courage and sacrifice, we will never have to surrender any of our liberties … nor must we face those unspeakable horrors that all wars imprint on the souls of its soldiers.

So when it comes time to gather at your local cenotaph, let your heart be genuinely grateful as you look into the faces of those once proud warriors – they who gave up their youth to defend our way of life so fearlessly. Applaud them as they march by you – it’s the very least they deserve … 

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on those Good Things in Life!

When The Game Changes

As we go through our life day by day, most of us will eventually settle into a routine of sorts – with our jobs, our family, our friends … what we do on weekends, where we buy our groceries, all the minute details of living an ordinary life.  

But what happens when something suddenly drops into the middle of your ordinary life and literally rocks your world – and not necessarily in a good way? What tools do you have access to that will help you stay grounded and get you focused on solutions? Or, if your situation is unresolvable, what coping mechanisms do you have?
What’s Your Plan B …?
At some time in your life, you will find yourself facing challenges that you may not be quite prepared for … perhaps the sudden death of a cherish friend or family member, or maybe losing your job and seeing your financial security collapse before your very eyes. Traumatic, stressful situations that you have very little control over, yet which affect your future in a most visceral way.
What will you do? How will you cope? Where will you turn for guidance or help? What is your strategy for managing such a crisis? 
These past several years, we’ve collectively experienced what seems like relentless waves of crisis upon crisis: in the corporate world, the political world, the financial world … businesses closing, jobs disappearing, scandal after scandal, deranged gunmen – how on earth are we supposed to establish contingencies for all this?
A New Version of the Three R’s …
The fact is, you can’t … it’s impossible to foresee what the future holds. But does that mean we’re at the mercy of circumstance? I would say not – or not entirely, anyway. True, for the most part we can’t control what’s happening around us – and really, we never could. But we can take ownership of what’s happening inside us … and to that end, I have a completely different interpretation of the three R’s – recognition, resilience, and recovery. 
So, how do we invoke these three R’s to our advantage? Well, recognition is likely to be the trickiest. We may not even recognize that the game is changing until it’s already upon us. But once it is, it’s imperative that we get very clear on every aspect of its impact on our life. This is not the time for denial or ignoring. This is the time for realizing what just happened and how it will affect us. At this point, accurately assessing vulnerabilities is key, and we must be fearless in doing so.
Resistance Is Futile …
Once we know the full extent of the damage, we must rely on our resilience to endure the transition we’re about to face. This will likely entail a certain level of grief, and it’s important to honour that process. Change can often equate to loss – and whether it’s material or emotional, loss is almost always tragic. So we must allow ourself to experience any sadness our new situation may bring … but let’s not get stuck there. We have to begin the process of readjustment, and the sooner the better … especially if there’s no escaping it, anyway.
Recovery comes as a result of being efficient in embracing the change – whether we’ve had to sell our home and relocate, find another job, say goodbye to a loved one … or some other life-altering event. We need to keep it all in perspective, do what’s needed, process the emotions around it, and then move toward recovering our equilibrium. During this process, many tools can be applied – meditation, counselling, journaling, long walks, or just being comforted by friends. Whatever works is the perfect tool to use.
This cycle of recognition, resilience and recovery is definitely not an overnight process. Each of us will experience it differently, depending on the enormity of our challenge. But there’s one thing that’s certain … change will come. And when it does, and your routine is upset or your life is altered, how willingly will you adapt to it? Can you turn life’s page without tearing it? Or, as many do, will you resist in futility as change overtakes you?
… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the Good Things in Life!

Take Courage, My Love …

To live the life we long for in our heart, we must have courage to triumph over the fear that’s been holding us back to this point. Obviously, this is much easier to say than to do … but even so, it’s key to developing the inner peace and sense of contentment that so many of us long for.

In pursuit of constructing our best life, there are a number of personal virtues that would typically factor in. We could consider them to be ‘cardinal’ … not necessarily in the religious sense, but rather in the literal sense – the word cardinal comes from the Latin for ‘hinge’ and in this context, it simply means that other things stem from it. So if we look, then, at what are considered cardinal virtues, we would typically include things like prudence, restraint, justice, courage, faith, hope, and love.

Of all these human virtues, the one that is usually lacking is courage. And yet, it could be considered the most critically important, in that it seems to underpin all the rest – you can’t have love without courage; we need courage to find hope and faith; to pursue justice certainly requires courage; exercising prudence and restraint both take courage … so of all these virtues, courage could apparently be considered the key ingredient, essential to unlocking our happiness.

Well, let’s consider courage, then, and what it means. Courage is not the same as being fearless … rather, it means continuing in spite of our fear. Courage does not allow comfort and security to become a crutch, but requires us to persevere despite fear, pain, past failures, loss, loneliness or uncertainty. We need courage when facing moral dilemmas; and when we make mistakes or misjudgements, we need courage to forgive ourselves … and others.

We need courage to make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of rejection, such as when we offer help to another. How often have we come upon an opportunity to do something good for someone, but lacked the courage to overcome our uncertainty or awkwardness in approaching them, and so we let the moment pass. We allowed ourselves to be convinced that to step forward might incur rejection, and this fear persuaded us to turn away. Our gesture might have changed that person’s entire day – or even their life. But our fear of their reaction interfered, and the moment was lost.

How would your conscience react to knowing you lacked the courage to act on your compassion and instead let fear rule the moment? Would it nag you and chastise you? Would you regret your cowardice, knowing you allowed fear to prevent you from doing the ‘right thing’? Compare that to how exhilarating it feels when we ignore our fear and do something courageous anyway – when we know we did the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Consider the joy this puts in our heart, and the upbeat mood we create.

They say that inside every person there are two spirits – one is a coward, one is a hero … and the one that rules you is the one you feed. Which one do you nurture? Having courage is about living life with a good heart, embracing the next right thing as a natural reaction rather than a pondered decision. It means being willing to step outside your comfort zone and sacrifice your confidence momentarily to at least offer to do that right thing. The world may reject your offer, but your heart will know you at least tried … for we don’t simply have courage – rather, we take courage. It’s an action, more than an attitude. And taking courage keeps us moving forward in our pursuit of the life we long for. So, what direction are you moving in?

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the Good Things in Life!

The Truth About Lies …

In a recent article, I wrote about ‘living our Truth’ and what that means in terms of living authentically (http://stepoutofthemist.com/truth-or-consequences/) … but there’s another Truth that has the ability to affect our lives practically every day – the Truth whose opposite is an un-Truth … otherwise known as a Lie.

Now as we know, there are several different kinds of Lies. Some are referred to as Little White Lies, and these are apparently meant to be innocent. We also call them Fibs. When couched in this category, Lies somehow lose their seriousness. Or so we are led to believe. Because compared to other Lies – such as Whoppers – those which we call Fibs seem to pale by comparison. But do they, really?

If someone is simply trying to ‘gently guide the truth past you’ in order to conceal a surprise for you, that’s one thing. There would be no rancour or deceit in such a move. Quite the opposite, actually, since this is usually an act of love or affection.

Fibs, on the other hand – as small as they may be – are still connected to Lies. And if you are on the receiving end of one, you may not judge it to be quite so benign. For the most part, it seems that Fibs are invoked when someone’s embarrassment or awkwardness precedes the moment. Are they as serious as an outright Lie? Well, that probably depends on how charitable the receiver is. Is it easier to forgive an untruth told by someone in order to avoid humiliation than to forgive an outright deliberate Lie that’s meant to gain benefit or cause harm to you or someone else?

If it is, then the question may become “where do we draw the line?” How do we establish which level of Lie is acceptable and which is not? Doesn’t it come down to a question of trust? How can we completely trust someone who has shown they are willing to occasionally resort to subterfuge in order to achieve their objective … whether that’s the avoidance of their humiliation or the more onerous manipulation of circumstances?

Another consideration is if you are duped by someone through a Lie, does the perpetrator of the Lie hold any accountability for the results of this indiscretion? What if their Lie ended up costing you money or opportunity – or even your reputation – because you (or others) believed them? Should they get to just shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeh, my bad – sorry ’bout that …” (not that they would ever necessarily admit their culpability). Do you have any protection from that? Well, unless it’s something contractual or slanderous, you probably don’t – not usually, anyway.

So perhaps neither Lies nor Fibs are benign on any level. Each can actually be quite harmful, once told. Since we can’t project the repercussions of such fabrications after they are released, how ethical is the presumption to discount their importance? Surely a better philosophy in the process of human communication is to simply be truthful in all things – and if you cannot, then perhaps in the name of your personal integrity, that’s a good time to say nothing at all.

… and while you consider this, remember to always focus on the Good Things in Life!



The Most Terrible of Weapons

Given the evolution of game boxes and their sophisticated software that emulates real life, one might think that the most destructive weapons available to the average person would be black-market rocket launchers, assault rifles, grenades or other military hardware. Don’t we hear about police arresting gang members and discovering weapons caches almost weekly in our news reports? It paints a rather depressing picture of today’s society, doesn’t it? …

But even though this may be true, such weapons are not actually the most destructive of forces used by the majority of our population. That distinction can be claimed by something that is readily available to everyone, and so very often misused frequently with devastating results. That weapon? … Words.

Words have the capacity to inflict horrendous damage on another person. They can ruin a life without drawing one drop of blood. They can break a heart, destroy someone’s confidence, and torment those outside the realm of ‘cool’. Words can be lies that lead to a betrayal, or can be truths that reveal shame or embarrassment. Used as a weapon, the wounds inflicted by words often never heal.

Be Aware of Words …

Governments use words to control their citizens. With a mixture of carefully crafted words, politicians constantly make promises they have little or no intention of delivering upon. The Opposition uses words to hurl insults and accusations, and to expose the nefarious intentions of the Government … whether real or imagined.

Words have divulged state secrets, jeopardizing the security of entire nations. Wars have been waged using words, that have then led to the deployment of troops. Had those words been more carefully chosen, more strategically applied, wars might more readily have been avoided, along with their subsequent loss of life. Words have an awesome power the ability to completely change outcomes.

Beyond the Point of No Return …

When you think of how you use words in your everyday life, are there times when you find yourself choosing your own words carefully? Do you often ‘bite your tongue’ when engaged in a conversation or disagreement with someone? If you do, then you are clearly showing respect for the damage that thoughtless, angry or spiteful words can wreak. You may subconsciously be telling yourself that by taking that one further step and letting loose those words, you’ll be creating a situation from which there may be no return and you’ve sensed that the price is too great to pay for a moment of one-upmanship. That small inner voice that has stifled you? That’s your personal ‘committee of sober second thought’ … it’s there to help you avoid saying things you will likely regret later and you should listen to it when it speaks to you.

Think back on your life to a time when someone let loose a barrage of hostile energy in your general direction. Whether you deserved it or not isn’t the point … what’s important is how you felt about that person after the fact. Once a trust is broken, and a verbal altercation takes place, it can be extremely hard to ‘un-hear’ those harsh words. You might tell yourself that you’re over it, that you forgive them, and that all is restored … but is it, really? Will you ever truly let your guard down around that person again?

Just Back Away Slowly …

Don’t be that person. If you find yourself losing patience or, worse, tolerance for a situation … simply remove yourself from it. Be respectful, maintain your dignity, and just walk away. Get some fresh air, grab a cup of coffee, or just take a walk – do something to change your state of mind. Exhale and feel the relief of disengaging from that difficult moment. You don’t have anything to prove, and being right doesn’t always come with rewards … sometimes the cost of words is far too high.

… and while you consider this, remember to focus on the Good Things in Life!