As I was sitting watching the Detroit Lions last night playing against the Atlanta Falcons, a surreal picture came into my head as I was taking in the view from the sidelines from my seat high above. As I sat next to my girlfriend, the months and years began to merge and the sense of it all began to flood back. As the mistakes of my past began to form in front of me, juxtaposed by the sights, aromas, sounds, and senses that I was feeling, Maria simply hugged my arm smiled, and asked me if I was happy.
There’s a great power in that question.
An even greater power in the examination of it internally.
If your happiness is conditional upon someone else’s opinion or thought of you then it becomes situational and oftentimes malleable or hammered out depending upon someone or something else’s value that you hold greater than your own opinion of yourself. We strive for acceptance, attention, accolades, and achievement through these means and they become quietly deafening from within. We become triggered when someone else asks a question or questions our being from within this framework. We then retreat within, sulk, lash out, enrapt with rage or anger, and exact our outrage as a result of such events.
For many years, I lived within this framework in one form or another. In some respects, I would offer that in my own opinion it was the result of conditioning from the framework of toxic masculinity, all or nothing, black and white, and heaven forbid admitting mistakes to those that we perceive may exact retribution through our profession of vulnerability. The exact thing that is necessary to heal is vulnerability and identification of those that are worthy of hearing your whole story, those that Brene Brown, Ph.D. Has termed marble jar friends. Those people have proven their care, love, concern, support, and trustworthiness in not sharing confidences that we share with them.
The journey that I began in 2020 through today has comprised a great number of the teachings and lessons offered in many books that I have read, written by Brene Brown, PhD., as well as, others that offered intents through internal healing and self-compassion as we lean into our own feelings and own our story while divesting ourselves from our internal negative self-narrative. It is the realization that our happiness, love, trust, compassion, and value all have the same center. They all are derived from within.
If we fail to love ourselves, we are unable to love others. If we do not trust ourselves, we are predisposed to not trusting others and a life of self-sabotage. If we are unhappy with ourselves then how can we be happy with or for anyone?
Each of these requires providing ourselves the same level of self-compassion for others as we offer compassion, care, and love that we would offer to someone else or especially those we hold most dear.
Each of these instances and considerations flashed within me once again and I turned to her, smiled, kissed her softly on her cheek as I held her close, and merely said, “Very”. As I turned back to watch the game, feeling her arms wrap around my arm, I couldn’t help but think how surreal it all was and that I really had discovered my own happiness from within, It’s a lifelong endeavor and I celebrate it each day.