Like many men of his generation, my father was an enigma when it came to deciphering the nuances of his moods. He appeared to vacillate between being a practical joker and a moody depressive. I can remember the frustration I felt as child trying to figure out why my father was in a bad mood, and more importantly, whether or not I was to blame. Having a relationship with my dad was like going on a archaeological dig—It took a lot of time and patience to unearth what you were looking for.
Now that I am the father of a young man, I see that I too an guilty of slipping on that skin of enigma that my father so steadfastly wore. The difference being, that I desperately want to cultivate an authentic relationship with my son, something I never achieved with my father. There is no denying that we are a product of our childhood, but I don't believe this fact relegates us to a carbon-copy life replicating that which was imprinted on us during our childhood. The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result”, so if I’m eager for change to happen, conscious action will be required on my part to break this stagnant perennial father-son relationship.
Whenever we want to witness real change in our life, and I’m not talking here about “tweaking” or “tinkering” with breaking habits, we have to adopt the mentality that change does not come to us, but rather, we come to change. An awareness that a change is necessary is a critical first step, but it’s just that—a step, not a destination.
This past year has been transformation for me because it has been a period of intense introspection precipitating drastic changes in my life. As I step back and observe this process, I can note the few occasions in which I was able to bring about a significant change with the least amount of friction and the greatest possibility for success. The desire for a change typically comes from a place of inferiority—often enmeshed in shame or perceived inequality. I have found it helpful to put some positive thoughts, or self-talk, into my “emotional bank” before embarking on the process of bringing about a change in some facet of my life. The easiest way for me to approach change from a place of strength and confidence is to ask myself a couple of self-affirming questions. If you’re anything like me, you might find it helpful to write your answers down on a piece of paper. There’s some alchemy that occurs when we physically write something, as it allows us to internalize that which we write. Here are the questions I asked myself and the answers I recorded.
It’s also important to note that any meaningful change in life comes with an inherent cost—You are bound to meet resistance or friction in others who feel uncomfortable with your metamorphosis. Sadly, I’ve had to do a little people purging in my social circle, thereby surrounding myself with those who embrace my efforts and distancing myself from the naysayers. We often sabotage any hope of change before we even begin because we allow all that negative self-talk to take over our consciousness. If we are serious about making a change in our lives, the opportunity is always there for us to seize. In the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you believe you can do or not, you are right.”