Tuesday, May 27, 2014


One of the most fascinating things about being an aunt is watching my nieces and nephew grow. I have held them as infants, giggled as they maneuvered their first steps, winced as they got cuts and scrapes from playing outdoors, and laughed with them as they developed more thoughtful senses of humor. At times I miss the days before they were too big and independent for me to scoop them up in my arms, but it brings me joy to witness their growth.

Every single thing that lives is destined for growth. What doesn't grow individually dies or collectively becomes extinct. Physical growth is easier for people to accept because they expect it. When a baby is born, the expectation is for her to develop into a toddler, then a child, then a teenager, and finally, an adult. The expectation is for her to grow taller, stronger, and more independent. What is the expectation, though, after? What happens to the expectation of growth in adults?

The measure of an adult is attached to responsibility. On the surface, growth is evidenced by building a family and a career with pay raises and title changes. Adulthood comes with countless lessons, but because we are no longer measuring height changes or advancing in school each year, after we start a family and a career, we unfortunately expect stagnation.

Being an adult is more than building externally. Structures cannot stand if all of the attention is placed on their exterior. The foundation must be solid. The interior must be strong enough to support the weight of the structure itself, but also the impact of age and the stress of external forces. For that reason, as adults, our most important area of growth is internal.

Maybe the conversations and activities that once entertained or sustained you are becoming mundane. Maybe you realized that those who support you only provide support on conditions. Maybe where you are professionally does not provide the same satisfaction or excitement that it did initially. Maybe your life plan, including the people in it, needs an adjustment or an overhaul. Your first responsibility, as an adult, is to pay attention. Listen to those internal bells and alarms that indicate a need for change. Next, be strong enough, responsible enough, and adult enough to accept and grow into who you are becoming from within.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Golden Rule

You've heard the adage 'treat others the way you want to be treated' countless times. It's the Golden Rule and typically, it is great advice. It is both a normal expectation and an admirable quality to base your consideration of others on how you want to be considered. What happens, though, when how you want to be treated is not equal to how you deserve to be treated?

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of life. In your connections you find support, understanding, healing, love, and essentially, a reflection of yourself. Those who love you make the choice to be a part of your life and include you in theirs. It's a commitment. Even when the love is there, though, if you take that love or the people giving it for granted and ignore their needs and become distant, doubt begins speaking louder than trust. Your loved ones will question if they are in the relationship, or feeling a level of openness and safety all by themselves.

How you feel about yourself impacts how you treat those you love. If you don't think you're deserving of honesty, support, and care then your behavior will reflect that and you will sabotage your relationships and what you need. Rather than lean into your support, because you don't trust it and don't believe you deserve it, you pull back. Without realizing it, you treat your loved ones in the way you think you should be treated and in this instance, it's less than what all of you deserve.

In order to fully understand the sentiment behind treating others the way you would like to be treated you have to also understand how you should be treated. You may know that you don't deserve to be abused, lied to, cheated on, betrayed, or ignored because those are extremes. Those are easy to identify and reject. There are more subtle behaviors that you also don't deserve. You don't deserve to open up to someone and have him/her retreat. You don't deserve to consistently prove yourself trustworthy because of the actions of another. You don't deserve to have to face difficulty alone. You don't deserve to want an embrace and not feel vulnerable enough to ask for or accept one. You don't deserve to feel like you are in a relationship of any kind by yourself and neither does anyone you love.

Emotions can be scary. Depending on others to be there when you need them can be terrifying. Yet imagine how it feels for your significant other, parents, children, siblings, or close friends to have to deal with the normal fears of trusting and letting go combined with your refusal to trust them and let go. When you fully understand, appreciate, value, and love you then, and only then, can you truly understand, appreciate, value and love others.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Loving After

Social media sites are filled with memes and quotes promoting that we only trust ourselves. The logic behind it is that if we don't trust others then we can't be hurt by others. While it's understandable to interpret hurt as a side effect of trust, it is not a wise lifestyle choice. Trusting only self can reduce the likelihood of being hurt by others, but it is a guarantee of a life that is greatly reduced.

We have all been hurt by someone we love yet we are still charged with loving after. Loving after hurt is difficult. Trusting after disappointment is a challenge. We fear those emotions and make it our business to ensure we don't feel them again. Walls come up. Boundaries are set. We do whatever we can to prevent replicating the same scenario. We convince ourselves that we were hurt because we trusted, because we opened up, and because we loved. We conclude that we can prevent future hurt by not trusting, not opening up, and not loving.

One major problem with disconnecting from others is related to how much we trust ourselves. When we are hurt by someone we trust we start the blame game and ultimately, point a finger back at ourselves. This determination not to trust others does not address the negative feelings we develop toward ourselves after having trusted and being betrayed. We tell ourselves lies and since we have sentenced ourselves to isolation, we don't have anyone to build us out of this self-defeatist, detrimental thought pattern. We repeat negative self talk, and the one person we depend on, the one we trust solely, self, cannot be trusted.

We were designed for connection. We rely on relationships for growth, support, and love. Without human connection we remain stagnant, feed ourselves untruths, and become distanced from our purpose. Loved ones bring our lives joy and pick us up when we falter. Loved ones push us when we would rather lie down and sulk. Loved ones remind us of ourselves, especially all of the wonderful qualities that we dismiss or fail to acknowledge. Loved ones help us sift through harmful self talk and rebuild what has been broken. The key is for us is to select the loved ones committed to making the journey of loving after hurt and disappointment one of support, encouragement, and yes, trust.