Confrontation

97. BEING RIGHT

It might sound like I’m kidding, and it may come across as a little pretentious, but I believe there are two very important keys to a healthy relationship. First – separate bathrooms. This may seem a little silly, but I assure you it helps keep the peace. Even when I was single and had a roommate, we insisted on living in an apartment with separate facilities. As far as I see it, what we do in here is totally non-social (for most, that is) and therefore private in nature. I have no problem sharing with someone, I’m quite capable of doing so, but there’s also no need whatsoever to force our paths to cross in this area of life. My wife has the master bath in our home and I occupy the one in our basement. Besides, my schedule varies on occasion which usually means I’m getting up earlier than she does. Having a shower, and somewhere to make “other” noises away from the bedroom allows her to sleep while I ready myself for the day.

The second, and by far more relevant key to maintaining a healthy relationship in my life has been practicing this philosophy – “When a fight is about to start, the other person is always right”. Sound tough to swallow? Aw, that’s too bad. Keep in mind every kind of relationship can benefit following this mindset, from work to casual friendships. Here’s why this is key. It’s ALWAYS less painful to admit you’re wrong rather than fight about whether or not you’re right. And man, I mean always. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe and push for what you feel must happen in order for the best scenario to take place, but stepping over the line that says “fight!” usually leads to regret and anguish not to mention other, more serious long-term problems. Disagreements are plentiful and let’s face it, unavoidable, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I have never seen the benefit of letting them deteriorate into an emotional mess. Doesn’t matter in the long run if I’m right anyway. Think I’m wrong? There’s two very important reasons I’m not, and here’s why.

First –

The fastest way to prove someone wrong is to let them do it their way.

Let that little observation sink in for a bit. The only time I’ll step in and insist on stopping (or at least delaying) what’s about to happen is if I’m 100% sure someone is going to get hurt. If danger is imminent, then I’ll intercede. Other than that they can proceed with whatever agenda suits them. If their way turns out to be incorrect one of two things will happen, either they will concede to another way and allow a little humility to seep in or they’ll stand their ground even if they know they are wrong, which is a good sign you’re with the wrong person to begin with.

Second –

The worst case scenario is more time and money.

Even when I’m absolutely positive I’m correct, the worst thing that will happen (other than imminent danger, which I’ve already talked about) is that we’ll end up taking a longer road which may also cost more, and honestly, this possibility isn’t all that horrible. Usually very little happens which actually sets up a disaster. Not only that, of all the times I’d bet my life I was right, about half the time I ended up eating crow and conceding in the face of reason, so practicing an attitude of open-mindedness ends up teaching me a little humility, and who couldn’t use more of that?

I do not avoid confrontation; I embrace it in many cases because it gives me the chance to prove I’m the better, more level-headed person. I was once running a job where the supervisor came up to me doing his best impression of an emotional windmill. He was red-faced, mad, and quite animated. I kept my calm and stepped a little too close while I said something like this, “Do not talk to me this way, I will not respond. I will respond to respect and kindness, which honestly, I’ve shown you all along. Please keep in mind that I want to get the job done too, probably more than you do.” After that he was indeed kind and respectful and we had no further conflicts. He did, however, continue bullying everyone else who was willing to take his brand of crap.

I did not step over the “fight” line as much as I was being invited; though I must admit there’s almost always temptation in these types of situations. I’m an emotionally healthy man, able to release the proper feelings in the proper doses so there’s no build up of unreleased expression, which I think leads to all kinds of health problems for many. Instead of instinctively responding with some sort of regrettable defensive anger, the satisfaction of logical and productive re-direction always leaves an intense satisfaction. Besides, I’ve said it before “He who walks away from confrontations with the lowest blood pressure, wins the game.”

I wish I could say I’m level-headed all the time, but that simply isn’t the case. Occasionally I’ll lose my cool in instances where no one but me is involved. This leads to situations where someone (usually my wife) will come running in and ask me what that crash was and why all the yelling is going on. Hey, at least I save my outbursts for more private opportunities of expression. I’ve said it before and I really do believe this. The pain most men carry is rooted in the inability (or at least unwillingness) to properly express themselves when emotions are generated. This means when we feel something, we have a tendency to hold it back; it’s been generated but not released. Problem with this is that all manufactured feelings will eventually surface, but they will be unexpected, mutated, and amplified. All too often this is the case when alcohol or other drugs are involved.

All this being said, I never want to be incorrect about anything, who does? As I stated before I’ll always do my best to present my viewpoints and opinions as calmly and logically as possible, but there’s a huge difference between standing your ground and stepping over the line. Dropping the perceived need to be right does two things, it opens the mind to a possible better way that might not have been conceived otherwise and it eliminates potentially lighting emotional powder keg. Don’t get me wrong, I ALWAYS want the best right thing to happen, it’s just that I no longer feel I must be connected to the final outcome. I have no need to be an author of the solution. Besides, being silently peaceful is much more preferable to being vocally upset no matter who’s right or who’s wrong.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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89. THE POWER OF HONESTY

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One of my first jobs in the early nineteen-eighties was working at a Target store here in Littleton, Colorado. The night shift and nature of our duties was anything but glamorous. Being good at pushing a broom, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming are not strong points on anyone’s resume’ and bragging rights to the speed at which one can walk every aisle seven times in eight hours will empress very few. Because of this it was difficult to find anyone willing to do the work, let alone keep them for any length of time. Many came and went, in fact when I eventually became supervisor the rate of turnover was revealed to be on average at least once a week. It was a hard, continuously moving job with lousy hours and I do not miss it in the slightest.

One of my supervisors who lasted a little longer than some was a fella I’ll call Frank. He was best described as a “cool jerk”. He had a big mouth just like me but his delivery was somewhat louder and defiantly more caustic. Insults rolled out of his pie hole more than any situation warranted. He thought he was being goofy and humorous in nature, but in reality he was just constantly annoying. Such crude indignities as “Eat a rock, Kiss my whatever, and Up yours!” were bland and fairly easy to ignore, but they were nonetheless delivered with disrespect and ignorance. Frank was obviously the playground bully who hadn’t outgrown the need to shove others around in order to elevate himself to a false sense of superiority. All of us put up with his incessant blithering for months until one guy showed up as part of our crew.

I instantly liked David. He was kind, hard working, focused and fun to be around. He was also the first Mormon I’d ever worked with. His faith showed in his actions and there was never any reason to mistrust or belittle him. This, however, did not stop Frank from directing his barrage of mindless chatter elsewhere. In fact, because David’s manners were humble and peaceful, he focused even more energy towards him in an effort to get a reaction. For weeks David turned his cheek, mostly because Frank was our boss, but more because he didn’t want to be the type who would let pointless opinions affect his demeanor.

Then one night EVERYTHING changed……

David had been with us for probably two months now. As usual, at the allotted time, we made our way to the breakroom and sat down to our perspective tables to eat lunch.  This particular night Frank was going out of his way to be excessively obnoxious and all of his energy was directed towards David. He was doing his best to block the verbal abuse with a newspaper when I saw from his perspective that he’d finally had enough. David casually flipped down the edge of what he was reading and stared at his abuser. Frank had this huge dopey grin on his face thinking he had finally gotten under the skin of his victim. He was waiting anxiously to see what kind of reaction was coming. What happened next was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. David slowly folded and placed the paper on the table in front of him and calmly said one sentence to Frank while staring directly into his eyes.

“Well……..at least I’m not fat.”

That was the hardest moment of my life I ever had keeping a straight face. Frank was stunned. He sat straight up and seemed to turn to stone. David, on the other hand, picked up his paper and continued to read while finishing his lunch.  Frank was self-conscious about his weight to begin with, and while I never considered his girth to be out of the ordinary, he did. Frank didn’t speak to him for the rest of the night, in fact I don’t think he EVER spoke to David much after that incident except to ask him to do something as a manager.

Eventually David went on to a different job and a better future, but I never forgot the lesson in honesty he presented so perfectly.  In his absence he left us with a quieter less aggressive supervisor. There’s no doubt in my mind his gentle resolve still to this day serves all who came in contact with him.

Should we always turn away from meaningless insults for the rest of our lives? Yes, I believe we should when they come from strangers and temporary associates, but when they are constantly delivered from those we are bound to, then absolutely not. Why? Because if nothing else when bullies receive no resistance, their behavior inevitably becomes magnified and that behavior can lead to hurting others even if it REALLY doesn’t bother you.

When honesty is used as a defense (NOT as an offence, huge difference) there are few countermeasures capable of blocking it. David was not mean or nasty with his delivery, just forthright. And Frank, when confronted with the truth, had nothing to say against it because any kind of resistance would look like he was unaware of the obvious, which no one wants to admit to.

I must confess, I’ve used this tactic on an extremely limited basis. Not because I don’t think it will work, obviously it will, it’s just that in my opinion I feel it’s a last-resort technique. If done properly the likelihood it will sever all ties between you and your perceived aggressor is quite high. Just because someone is thoughtless or annoying a few times doesn’t mean this person has no value in life. Remember this, people only treat us the way we allow them to treat us, and that’s a fact.

Yes, the truth may indeed set you (and those who suffer with you ) free………..

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

50. FIFTY POST SUMMARY

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Well……..I thought I would mark my fiftieth post with a list for easy access to what’s been written so far. Hope this isn’t too boring, it wasn’t for

  1. WELCOME TO MY BLOG! This introduces who I am and why I decided to create this page based on my frustration at trying to find entry level material to the subject of self-help, self-empowerment, and self-actualization. 
  2. My Favorite Joke It’s just what it says and it really is my favorite.
  3. How to Know if You are on the Right Track- The importance of mentoring, lowering defenses, and taking criticism is discussed. 
  4. What I Believe- Just me letting the reader know what kind of person is behind the subject matter presented here.
  5. 12 Step Meetings- Behind the Doors- Written to illuminate a little of what goes on at 12 step meetings. Very benign, straight to the point, and informative.Baby-An Example of my Artwork- Off topic. Meant to let people know a little more about me.
  6. Baby – Example of my artwork- Off topic, something to let the reader know a little more about me.
  7. What is the Purpose of Language?- Illuminating topic on a commonly ignored subject. Some humor.
  8. My Favorite Bumper Sticker Lots of humor and a very important way to look at the world.
  9. The Right Questions- A better way to find the correct answers, part one.
  10. My Second Favorite Photo- Amazing shot, inspiring!
  11. Eliminating Regret- How to rid yourself of what I think is the biggest cause of suffering on the planet.
  12. Advice from the Ground Floor- One of the first lessons I was taught when I first quit drinking.
  13. A Gift to a Friend- Expressing myself to someone whom I owe my life to.
  14. The Strength of Compassion- A life changing realization that came from a tragic event.
  15. Taking Chances- Harnessing real power and using it to explore life’s possibilities.
  16. A Holiday Story- One of my favorites. Full of humor and a really cool ending.
  17. Liberty Re-Written- Twenty reasons why I know the world is a better place that it was only 150 years ago.
  18. Being Tough- A Must read for most, especially men or those who have men in their lives. Will take you for a spin.
  19. What I refuse to Believe- More information on who I am and where I stand.
  20. Approaching Life Politely- It’s not what you might think.
  21. Another Example of my Artwork- Off topic a little. This was a gift to Wayne Dyer.
  22. Please Forgive me….- Self explanatory.
  23. The Importance of the Right Question- A better way to find the right answers, part two.
  24. I Would Not…. Life philosophy.
  25. All the World is a Mirror- How I see myself. Some humor.
  26. What Does GOD look like?- My interpretation on how the universe flows. Meant to introduce the concept of GOD to those who might be apprehensive to the idea. No “religious” ideas are pushed.
  27. Coming Full Circle- Waking up to an aspect of becoming more self-actualized.
  28. A Change of Perspective- How I came to see the world in a different light.
  29. In Search of Beauty- The exercise of opening my eyes to what what’s really out there.
  30. Come in and Rest a While- Invitation to new readers.
  31. “We Cannot Be….- An important observation of life.
  32. “The Right Another important observation.
  33. “In the house….- Yet another basic, but often ignored philosophy.
  34. A Life of Peace- The basic fundamental I practice to remove turmoil from my life.
  35. Please Stop By- Another open invitation to all.
  36. Living in the Moment- An epiphany I had some time back, a little sad, and very true.
  37. I Confess…..- I’m human too, with some funny flaws.
  38. A Perfect World- A short observation on how we judge ourselves.
  39. Take a Stand- About choosing and following a clear path in life.
  40. A Very Short Story- It speaks for itself.
  41. Outrunning the Demons- How I found and eliminated my worst enemies.
  42. I Love You!- It’s just what it says.
  43. Endless Possibilities- A short equation on how to remove the shackles of life.
  44. Satisfaction Guaranteed- A quick philosophy that ensures lifelong contentment.
  45. Change your Life-Lose your Luggage- Why the past means nothing in the course of tomorrow.
  46. Cleanliness is next to Godliness?- Check out why here.
  47. No Limits- Another way to approach life with determination.
  48. Walking with Purpose- Just a healthy way to move through the days.
  49. Embracing Tomorrow- Why I don’t believe in age or its limitations.

Thanks you so much for your support this past year. I look forward to many more connections and revelations as time marches on.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

           

41. OUTRUNNING THE DEMONS

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I used to have nightmares that would make Wes Craven’s movies look like Sesame Street. The hellish visions seemed so real I would find myself jumping out of bed in the middle of the night in a sweaty panic, fighting off the ghostly images that would follow me into the realm of reality. My solution to this predicament was even more of what was aiding their appearance to begin with; alcohol. To be honest it would actually work on occasion and allow me a period devoid of all awareness, all interest, all  feeling; so there were times I could escape the immediate threat of my inner twisted menagerie and float away on a sea of apathy.

Introspection is the perceived enemy to those who are their own worst threat. What I didn’t realize is that when I avoided looking at myself, those reflections would intensify and re-manifest in other ways. Part of my mind, the part that was fading quickly but still intact, was desperately doing everything it could to warn me of my inevitable demise. No subtleties  in play here. The carnival of madness was in full swing, and I was both the audience and the main attraction. My personality was split between rationality and insanity. The war that I encouraged between the two almost killed me. I was a candidate for a straight jacket and there’s no doubt I would have passed whatever test would have been required  to acquire one.

On occasion I had times of sobriety (but NOT recovery) and physically this would feel great, but abstinence does not equal nor even add to mental health. Every time I went into a period of  self-restraint my ego would eventually re-assert itself. I” would begin to think “I” could control the urge to do what I knew was wrong. The mistake was interpreting an attitude of smugness for resolve, and again I would find myself in deep trouble.

There came a time where I eventually painted myself into a symbolic corner. I had run out of choices. I had neither  the balls to blow out my brains and end it all in one fell swoop, nor the stamina to keep on living. Empty, tired, and desperate I FINALLY started asking for help. Those that came to my aid knew what had to take place. They were the ones who spun me around and showed me for the FIRST time what I was really running from; self-judgment. The absence of self-judgment is self-acceptance, and it is  in this state of mind where conflict ceases. What was once broken became whole again. This is something I never could have done alone. The idea of attempting to face my demons on my own was too horrifying a prospect to even contemplate.

IF you are in a place similar to where I was, the only way to get free from that which feels inescapable is to drop your defenses (no more excuses) and ask for help. One of my first entries on this blog (for which I have provided the following link) will clarify just how to go about doing this.

CLICK HERE  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/04/how-to-know-if-you-are-on-the-right-track/

The secret I have learned is this; those demons I was running from only existed when I refused to face them. They are shadows, reflections without dimension. It was my running that gave them strength, my denial that fueled their resolve. Where understanding is present, fear is absent. Where fear is absent, love exists. Where love exists, life persists. Where life persists, the possibilities are endless……and I intend to continue proving it.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

37. I CONFESS…..

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I wish I was totally at peace all the time, but my ego seems to mess that up more than I’d like. You see, a few things still bother me, and I wish they didn’t. It’s okay though because there was a time when I found EVERYTHING annoying. I was one of those guys who could get pissed at winning the lottery. Really. So time to fess up and share (hopefully with a dash of humor) three of the situations in life that I still let get under my skin.

Let’s start with elevator etiquette. Why do people insist they shove their way ON before the occupants get off? More than once I’ve made a decision to stand about one inch from the door just to let strangers try to tackle me when it opens while I ask with a fake bewildered face “Can I get off first?” Yes it amuses me, (and has brought a LOT of laughter from those still inside waiting for their floor) but here’s the kicker….I find myself doing the opposite of what I want from the other side. Yes, I always apologize for being thoughtless, but I’m just as guilty as those who annoy me, which bothers me further. Ugh.

Next up, four-way stops. What? A complaint about drivers; what the? Anyway…It’s not the ones who roll through that get to me, it’s that no one seems to remember or care who got there first, so they sit and wait for the most aggressive one to take initiative. It also seems that at some point every day I pull up to at least one of these intersections and someone is just sitting in their vehicle, waving people through. They’ve been there for so long that their car is getting dirty from simple exposure. Really? Please just go. Years ago I actually met a motorist across from me who was doing this and I was shaking my head “No,” but they kept on waving. I finally turned off my truck, got out and waved THEM through. They left skid marks. Never figured that one out; and yes, I was sober. I’m not an aggressive driver, I swear. Almost everything is fine with me and it reflects in my record. Close to one million miles now and only two points on my license since I’ve had it as a teenager. I guess I just don’t like being confused. Not only that, I always make it through safely and respectfully so what’s the problem? Me, it’s me.

Finally, this is the situation I find REALLY aggravating. It’s a behavior pattern I’ve a hard time trying to break. I’m a plumber and I use a lot of tools that I scatter to different tasks, especially on large jobs so it’s quite often I misplace something. When I do, my first thought is  always, “Who stole my whatever it is that I misplaced.” To be honest I have had stuff stolen in the past twenty years…….twice. That’s it; yet my ego still goes on its rampage for a few seconds looking around the room for the culprit. My mind is quite aware that no one took anything, and still I persist in this Pavlovian response to my ineptitude. Can I have a “DUH” please? Most of the time I relax rather quickly, get out another tool, and wait for the situation to fix itself. It always does. Someday I’ll be rid of that particular bit of programming in my hard drive. The good news is that it happens less than it used to. Maybe it’s because I misplace my stuff less than I used to. Wait a second….do you think that’s how I’m subconsciously teaching myself to be less scatter brained? Couldn’t be; could it?

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

27. COMING FULL CIRCLE

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Years ago I was working on a job north of here. I had little authority and was mostly in a position of response rather than initiation. My supervisor set me up on a task that required me to be on a ladder and work for some time in the ceiling. I was by myself and the day was going well until a man from another trade showed up.

“You’re in my way.”

I glanced at him and continued my duties.

“I have work to do here.”

This time I responded but didn’t look at him. “Yea, me too.”

He was starting to get irate and I was honestly becoming somewhat amused; though I didn’t let my antagonist on to how I was feeling about the whole situation.

This time he came at me with a heightened verbal attack. “I need you to move! Are you not listening to me, I have work to do!”

Now, I’m sure we could have figured out how to get around each other, but this time I thought a little defense was in order. I stepped down with my tools in hand and faced him looking straight into his eyes.

“You know, if your opinion meant something to me I might get pissed, but since it doesn’t, I just don’t care.”

He lost it and I had a hard time keeping a straight face. As he was throwing his tantrum I continued with a steady voice. “Look, I don’t hate you, I don’t love you, I don’t anything you at all. As far as I’m concerned you’re going to do one of two things and only one of two things. You’re either going to keep talking or start swinging.”

He stopped and looked at me a little slack-jawed. After a moment of contemplation he said, “I guess I’ll just keep talking.”

I laughed a little, “There you go, keep talking, doesn’t matter to me.”

He left and I never saw him again.

I’ve lived a long time not worrying about the so-called “bad things” others thought of or expressed about me. The simple fact that I can’t do anything about what others think is all I need to embrace this philosophy. When I acknowledge someone else’s opinion I give it power; when I reject it, it has no energy. Even if I had the ability to change the mind of someone who didn’t agree with me, I wouldn’t. To do so would be against everything I believe in. Persuasion of  those who don’t align with my agenda by initiating actions and examples is fine, but to try to leverage my way using fear and intimidation is out of the question. I’ve had this way of dealing with potential adversaries for some time, little did I know that the opposite was also true, and finding that out was one of my greatest epiphanies.

I’m a fan of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, among many other teachers. He quotes Abraham Maslow quite a bit, mostly in reference to becoming a self-actuated person. One of the qualities projected by these people is an ability to “be independent of the good opinions of others.” Honestly (without sounding like I’m throwing myself under the bus) I had a difficult time understanding this bit of information. What did it mean exactly? I found out quite by accident while working on another job.

Tony and I were in a crawl space installing drain lines and having a pleasant conversation while we working.

He was still an apprentice and I was showing him some techniques as we progressed. “You know Daniel, I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about you.”

I shrugged, “Wouldn’t matter if they did. I chose whom I live to please, and that group is very small. Everyone else is on their own.”

He laughed and the conversation continued. “As a matter of fact, all I’ve heard is good things, you get a lot of praise.”

This is where it got weird for me. I had no idea how I was going to react until I said it. “That doesn’t matter to me either. I’m grateful for it, but I seek neither applause nor even endorsement.” That’s when it hit me, I was independent of the good opinions of others. The realization shook me tremendously and I felt a little light-headed. I had come full circle with this belief.

By no means am I saying that others opinions aren’t important to them, of course they are. My opinions are important to me as well, but if I were to accept that everyone’s opinions were as at least as important as mine, I’d lose sight of my path. I’m not talking about becoming self-centered or arrogant. What I’m really focusing on is not letting others sway me from reality by either letting negativity dissuade me, nor letting praise give me false sense of accomplishment. I seek no approval, I accept no hostility. I do however accept criticism from those I choose to admire, and allow appreciation from those I have a close connection with. It sounds like a fine line. It’s not. I simply keep a small, very tight circle of influence around me.

Ask yourself “How many people actually have opinions that matter to you?” and you’ll see what I mean. It seems to be five or less for most people I’ve talked to. Too many and you’ll end up living the life of everyone else; constantly striving to please and fulfill their agendas. I don’t think anyone has ever made the world a better place by attempting to silence their audience with the promise of pleasing all of them.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

18. BEING TOUGH

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When I was young I got into a lot of fights. I don’t recall ever starting a single one. They were all  reactionary. It always took a lot of shoving before I finally shoved back. I never threw the first punch; didn’t really have the guts for it. This isn’t to say I wasn’t an instigator of sorts. I was self-centered, loud, opinionated, and downright strange. My attitude and behavior rubbed many the wrong direction. I never felt as if I were being a jerk nor was I conscious of how disruptive I could be; it’s just that my manners didn’t always put others first, something I eventually learned, thank God.

The desire to solve situations from a state of anger is the easily one of the most common routes traveled, especially for men. From playgrounds to the world stage we are witness to its evidence on a daily basis. There are other ways with similar properties, laziness, ignorance, apathy, victimization, and so on. These paths are so worn that very little grows here. Do not take this metaphor lightly. Truly, when  we embrace the easy routes, nothing will manifest towards challenging us to be better. We think it’s tough to put up a fight, stand our ground, and defend what we believe in. Upon the contrary actually. The REAL way to personify toughness  is to walk away from a fight, change our minds, and  defend those we don’t agree with. To be tough, really tough, we must do those things that are tough to do.

When I began the journey out of my fog, my mentor asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the challenges that lay ahead. I stated my goal was to prove to him just how tough I could be. He said that was my ego talking; it wasn’t. I knew that a truly better life was something not very many choose to pursue. The way was never clearly marked, but the promise of capturing something few could claim to own was all the invitation I needed. What I speak of is a life lived in constant conscious improvement. I refer the triad of existence – mind, body, and spirit. Feed these three the proper nutrients and they will both grow and serve. Personally my list is rather clear. I want to every day become a little more healthy, informed, kind, productive, empathetic, honest, etc. Please take note here to see the qualities I have sought to expand are interior ones. I focus NO energy at all on such things as a bigger car, increased power, more money, or a better reputation. These pursuits are, believe it or not, the easier way. They may seem difficult at first, but when compared to strengthening the point of origin, they’re child’s play. I have nothing against a better exterior, but in order for it to be fulfilling, at least to me, it must be the result of living from the inside out.

I dare you to go forth and become the toughest person you’ve ever met. Drop the need to be right. Be in a constant state of politeness. Look the homeless in the eye and smile while you think a kind thought. Be willing to give without expecting or asking for compensation. Learn a new language. Defend the absent. Ask for help. Learn how to play an instrument. Read Shakespeare. Show your emotions. Throw or give away all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop complaining and start praising. Do these things sound tough to do? Damn right; some of them for some, all of them for others. Obviously the list could continue with a plethora of examples.

There are a few ways to determine your toughest route, so try these suggestions.

  •  Make a list of your fears.

      Decide to, one at a time, eradicate irrational fears. They serve nothing and take up too much room in an already crowded life. Not wanting to enter a dark alley in a bad part of town is a rational fear. That little spider on the countertop poses a zero threat, really. This is an irrational fear.

  •  Recognize that we see ourselves in others.

     This is literally the fastest way to pinpoint what needs improving. Don’t believe me? Try leaving for work with plenty of time and see if the traffic is even slightly annoying. When you are late those who are also late will get in your way. When you’re early you won’t care who’s late (or thoughtless) around you.

  •  Pick a mentor.

      All of us admire someone. Most of us know at least one person that no wind could move. They are at peace in any situation. They probably have a good deal of abundance in their lives that reflect upon both themselves and their environment. There are of course others in the public eye that can be looked to with the same definition. Remarkably, many of these people choose to share and teach how they remain in an unwavering attitude concerning their commitments to a better way of living. Mimic their behavior and you will reproduce similar results for yourself.

  •  Slow down somewhat and choose a noble course of action.

     When we give a little more time to allow ourselves a choice of actions (rather than the habitual or instinctive ones) we open a window to view alternative courses. I feel we almost always blindly choose the easiest (or perhaps most commonly used) method for approaching  how we “take offence” or “present defense.” For instance when someone insults you, try saying that you were just about to remark on the nice shirt they were wearing. Nothing like water to put out a fire.

  •  Embrace the idea of sacrifice.

There is no reward without the intent of sacrifice. When time is needed to accomplish what must be done, some leisure activities are usually forfeit. When money is needed as seed to help flourish an idea, frivolous spending must come to a stop. When weight is to be lost, chocolate must stay in the candy isle. Most people are reluctant to give up pleasure and replace it with what they think might be pain, but it’s all relative anyway. Take your focus off what might repeat itself from the past, place it on the future, and you will begin to see real change. When we choose to see only what is behind us, we usually miss out on a more fulfilling experience. Walking one way and looking another will  eventually cause a major accident. This practice blinds us to many obscured dangers that lie past our immediate field of vision.

So…..are you tough or easy? Me? I have both characteristics just like most, but the proof that I’m a lot tougher than I used to be presents itself as unexpected abundance, something I’m confidant will never stop expanding.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

8. MY FAVORITE BUMPER STICKER

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I had this bumper sticker printed up years ago and handed them out for free to anyone willing to take one. While it still makes me laugh, I also consider it a very important question.  It’s a little like hearing someone complain about whiners. Not only are they joining in with the same crowd they are trying to distance themselves from, now they’re center stage. I think this is why we should “Love thine enemy as thyself.”

If tolerance is what we want to project, are we not obligated to turn this attitude towards those who receive it the least? When mankind experiences pain somewhere in its “body” shouldn’t this demand care and healing? We seem to point towards what isn’t working in our society and do our best to fight it rather than help it. We praise that which is already doing well and insult what isn’t functioning properly. In my opinion this attitude is destructive and immoral.

No one wants to be around a hypocrite. People that do this are fooling themselves into believing that by putting everyone else down, they don’t have to work at doing anything to look good. We witness this unethical “sleight-of-hand” all the time in various incarnations. The “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” syndrome is, unfortunately, very common.  “No one does what I tell them to do” equals “I’m perfect, they’re flawed.” “No one comes up with better solutions than me” equals “I’m brilliant and they’re stupid.” “Others don’t do nearly as much work as me” equals “I’m productive, they’re useless.” “Everyday I fight bad drivers on the way to work” equals “I’m courteous, they’re rude.” All of these are hypocritical attitudes. No one is perfect. This is not a generalized judgment; I simply mean that there is always room for improvement.  The trap of thinking you’re beyond reproach is to invite a lifestyle that will convince itself there’s no need for progress.   Those who try to position themselves into a brighter spotlight by negative promotion lose all credibility. They don’t realize their audience is  instinctively aware that they’re unwilling to become better.

I would love to think I am past this kind of behavior but I’m not. On occasion I catch myself playing the victim. My moments of “poor me” are a lot less pronounced than they used to be, but at least I have the ability to recognize them. This “role” leaves a bitter taste, I assure you.  I’ve learned  there are countermeasures for this habit.

  1. I stop trying to be better than the rest of the crowd, I simply commit to being better than I used to be.
  2. My personal standards are far beyond what others expect of me.
  3. I acknowledge where talent lies. When I’m seen as someone who gives credit where credit is due, I notice people are more eager to work as a team. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their contributions. Sometimes nothing more than a “Thank You” makes all the difference, especially when it’s done in public. I know it does for me.

I think it’s amazing just how many don’t do this. It’s too bad that the ones who do this stand out so prominently. They are a rare breed; I wish they weren’t.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood