Don’t be like Uncle Rico…Just let it go: Dealing with Regret

I would agree with those who say that regret is a waste of time and energy, but I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t experienced moments of regret. And that is especially true for those of us in midlife and beyond. 

When you turn 40 you begin evaluating the decisions you’ve made in life and you may have a few regrets, but you still believe there is time to turn things around. In other words, you still believe you can make up for lost time. Then as you move into your mid-forties and early fifties you realize that some of the opportunities you missed are just that…they are missed. You will never get that opportunity again, and if you did you couldn’t do anything with it anyway.

I realize that sounds very depressing, and do you know why? Because it is depressing! It is depressing because it’s a loss. When we lose something it hurts, and we then have a choice to make. We can either allow that loss to ruin our life and keep us from moving forward or we can mourn the loss and find new opportunities to pursue.

We all know the great high school athlete like Uncle Rico (below)! You know, the athlete who lost out on a great opportunity either due to an injury or the coach who had something against them. They could have gone pro! They go through life with the woulda, coulda, and shoulda attitude. So for the next 30 to 40 years they go to every high school sporting event, and sit in the stands talking about the past and never accomplish anything in the present. However, those of us who missed out on an investment opportunity, ruined a relationship, didn’t make the most of our youth, or simply chose not to stay in college can also turn into an Uncle Rico. We get consumed with the regret, and don’t stop long enough to truly mourn the loss and move on.

So how do we mourn the loss?

Stop, Drop, & Roll:  This is a very important step to take! You need to stop and seriously confront all of your regrets. For some of us that may mean finding a friend or therapist and opening up and being free to roll around in the pain. For others it may mean stopping, dropping to their knees in prayer, and rolling around in self pity. Regardless, I suggest getting it out of your heart, soul, and mind by talking about it and also writing it down (if it is highly personal you may want to destroy the evidence). I know this step is tough for my male readers, but you need to let it out my brother!

Stop the blame game: Once you get it out it is time to stop blaming yourself and others for the loss. Even if there is someone to blame…quit it! Accept the fact that you made a mistake or someone screwed you over, and let it go, and that leads to the final and most important step.

Stop holding a grudge: The most important step in this process is forgiveness. Forgive yourself and forgive others. When we forgive…we don’t forget, but we are able to reduce the impact of the past on the present.

Take a moment to set new and realistic goals for yourself. You and I may no longer be able to throw a spiral for one mile, but we can still enjoy the game!

Posted in christianity, Grief, Midlife, Psychology, spirituality, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Three P’s of Living Free!

mirrorIn my last blog post I talked about cleaning the emotional and spiritual clutter out of your life. Let me quickly give you three things to think about as you begin cleaning. I want you to focus on people, pictures, and philosophies.

As we move through this wonderful journey we call life we are constantly picking up people, pictures, and philosophies and storing them in our heart and mind. We build relationships with people, we establish a picture of self, and we develop our philosophies about life, love, and the big one…death. So today, begin taking inventory in those three area and determine what can stay and what or who must go. Let me give you a little help to get you started.

People: 

This can be a difficult area of your life to clean, because it will mean breaking off relationships with those who are hurting you. I know, that sentence doesn’t make sense to some of you, but for others they know exactly what I mean. There are people in your life that need to be pushed out! Life is too short and precious to spend it around people that are hurting you, taking advantage of you, or to be blunt….SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF YOU! Yes, we all hurt one another from time to time, but if someone is constantly crushing your spirit then kick their ass to the curb.

Pictures:

When I was a therapist I would often ask people, “Who and what do you see when you look in the mirror?” So stop reading for a moment and do that for me. Go look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Who and what do I see?”

The words you used to describe what you saw in the mirror makes up the picture you have of yourself. I know, we all have parts of our body we would like to firm up and push up, but this goes deeper than your physical appearance. This is about some of the adjectives used like: loser, fat ass, ugly, slow, stupid, and/or failure. I chose those words because at different points in my own life I have used them. I know what it means to have a distorted picture of self. And many of you do as well, if you have a negative pictures of yourself get rid of it! Begin seeing the marvelous and miraculous that stands before you!

Philosophies:

I’m going to make you wait for this one because it is going to take an entire blog post to cover it. So go stand in front of the mirror again and start developing new pictures!

Love ya,

Uncle Tony

 

Posted in Health, Healthy Living, marriage, Midlife, Psychology, relationships, religion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Emotional Hoarder: Do You have a heart & soul full of stuff you don’t need?

Photo: http://shutterwonders.com/

Photo: http://shutterwonders.com/

Fall of 2015 had fully arrived as I was walking in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The trees aligned the path and were turning a beautiful shade of red, which popped in the sunlight. In the background, as if hand painted by Mother Nauture, stood the majestic Mt. Si. And as I took a deep breath and embraced the evergreen smell of the Snoqualmie Valley I realized I was ready to make a major life decision. It was time to make some changes, but before we get to that I need to take you back to the beginning of 2015 where this process really began.

cluttered-room

Photo: puuikibeach, Flickr.com Creative Commons Attribution Content

When 2015 rolled in I began examining the direction I wanted to take my life professionally, mentally, and spiritually. I was married to the woman of my dreams and had three incredible children, but the rest of my life seemed a mess. And so I set out on what would be hours of reflection, inspection, and even research. The best way to picture the process is to think of the messiest room you have in your home. You may even call it the “junk room.” I’m talking about the room where you are one “collectors item” away from being on an episode of Hoarders!

The “junk room” can be found in almost every home in America. And they almost all cause some form of stress. We try to ignore the “junk room” and shut the door which makes us feel better temporarily, but every single time we pass by that door we are reminded of all the crap inside! Chances are you really do want to get rid of that crap, but continue to procrastinate by shutting the door and trying to forget about it.

I use that analogy because as you and I examine our lives it becomes obvious that over the years we’ve allowed a large pile of emotional and spiritual crap to build up in our heart and souls. In essence, many of us become emotional hoarders. I think you understand my analogy at this point, but let’s clarify the one major difference between the clutter in your home and the clutter in your heart and soul. When we clutter up that extra room in our home it doesn’t change our life. We can honestly shut the door, but when we clutter our heart and soul with a bunch of crap guess what happens? We feel like crap! I know, with deep philosophical thoughts like that it’s amazing Oprah has not invited me to be a guest on Super Soul Sunday!

So let’s leave the big pile of crap and return back to my glorious walk in the park. Close your eyes and picture the Cascade Mountains, trees changing colors, and a cool breeze flowing through your thick hair. Unless you’re bald and then feel the cool breeze massage your shiny beautiful dome of manliness. Although the sun was shining I was gripped with the darkness of fear, because I knew I was going to start the cleaning process. Hoarders fear cleaning out their home, because they are worried they will throw out the wrong things or something they will need in the future. And I was afraid that I too would make that mistake.

As I began the cleaning process I was terrified of getting rid of things, people, beliefs, and habits that I may need. So how would I determine what stays and goes? I’m sure you have the same questions, and so in future blogs I’ll share my decision making process. To make sure you don’t miss updates please sign up to receive my blog by email (top right corner), but before you go I do have one more question.

I want to know if you have ever taken a bunch of that crap out of that room and taken it to a dump? There is not a more glorious sound than hearing all of it hit the bottom of the dumpster! Okay, maybe that’s a guy thing, but we can all agree there is no better feeling than a newly cleaned area that was once full of clutter. Seriously, you are smiling just thinking about it! Once the junk room is clean you constantly catch yourself just randomly walking up and opening the door. You can’t resist the urge to once again feel a sense of victory and freedom! It’s time to have that same feeling professionally, mentally, and spiritually!

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Free Your Mind And The Rest Will Follow

Free-your-mind-and-the-rest-will-follow.In 2006 En Vogue released the song, “Free Your Mind.” There is a line in the song that I catch myself singing often which is, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.” When those beautiful ladies sang they were telling us to free our minds from racism. They wanted us to free our minds from preconceptions and stereotypes. And I’d like to take the message of “Free Your Mind” a little farther and show you how it can change your life. I hope you will give me just 10 minutes of your time.

Let me start by asking you some controversial questions, but I want you to answer them quickly and with your first thought:

  1. Are you a liberal or conservative?
  2. Who will you vote for in the presidential election?
  3. Do you believe in a God and/or Jesus?
  4. Do you believe the Bible has the words of God in it?
  5. Are you Baptist, Methodist, or some other denomination?
  6. Are you an Atheist, Agnostic, or just simply spiritual?
  7. Is immigration a problem in our country, and should we shut our borders?
  8. Should Gay couples have the right to get married and be treated equally?
  9. Do we need more gun control laws?
  10. Should marijuana be legalized?

So did you get them all correct? You heard me, did you give the correct answer? You are thinking, “Well of course I did because I’m simply giving you my opinion…I’m speaking my mind!” And then you should hear my sexy southern voice ask, “Is that really your opinion…is that what is in your mind?”

Now, because you love me, do just one more thing for me. Go back and answer those questions without picturing your parents, priest, pastor, rabbi, siblings, best friend, spouse, or anyone else listening to you. Oh, and this time I’d like for you to give a brief reason for your answer. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

If by this point you think I’m nuts then you probably answered the questions honestly the first time. If you went back and answered them again then I’m your brother from another mother, and you totally get where I’m going with this!

How you answered the questions above is irrelevant to me. I simply used topics that cause people to quickly “dig in their heels” and prepare for an argument. I wanted to use questions that force people to choose a side and inspect their values and beliefs politically and spiritually. Why? Because when you and I do that it answers a huge question! It tells us if we are living life based on our values or the values of others. It may even tell us who is in control of our mind in most situations!

Regardless of how you answered the questions my hope is that you answered them from your heart, mind, and soul. If you are answering the big and small questions of life based on pleasing others, or based on how you were told to answer them then your mind is not free and thus neither are you. It will be impossible to have peace of mind if a piece of your mind belongs to others.

Free your mind and the rest will follow.

Posted in agnostic, atheism, christianity, faith, LGBT, Marijuana, marriage, Midlife, Psychology, religion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Life Lessons from A Volleyball Coach at 30,000 Feet

111On a recent flight home from the Midwest I was seated next to Ryan Wills who is the head volleyball coach for The University of Tulsa. He was on a recruiting trip, and I asked how he went about choosing a player to pursue. He admitted that the first thing to get his attention is talent. Simply put, when a kid displays great athletic ability they are on his radar, but there was more to the process. Coach Wills made it clear that talent alone would not get you on his team. He also wanted to know if the great athlete was a “good person.” And I wanted to know what he meant by a “good person.”

When talking about recruiting good people the coach simply  meant he wanted athletes who showed leadership potential, good character, and a respect for others. I asked one final question, and his answer is a life lesson for all of us. I asked, “How can you determine if they are good kids when you are limited in the amount of time you can spend with them?” He said, “I obviously spend time speaking with them on the phone, but more importantly I want to see how they behave when they don’t think anyone is watching.”

My new friend said he learned a lot by simply sitting in the bleachers and observing how the athletes interact with their teammates and coaches during competition. Listen up student athletes, he also watched to see how they interacted with their parents after the games. It was apparent that winning is very important to this coach…it’s how he keeps his job (FYI he is winning and winning big). However, winning is not enough! He also wants to cultivate a healthy environment for he and his players. A place where everyone feels respected regardless of their level of talent, but encouraged and equipped to be the best they can be on and off the court. He made it clear that he didn’t have time for the drama, which comes from leading those who don’t understand “There’s no I in team.” When he has a player who doesn’t seem to get that he calls them into his office and the real coaching begins!

As the plane landed and we went our separate ways I couldn’t quit thinking about our conversation. I wondered what Corporate America would look like if the board of directors used his philosophy when choosing a CEO and other executives? What would Hollywood, Nashville, Pro Sports, or the radio industry look like if this philosophy was used to choose entertainers and pro athletes? Sure, it is important for a team to be full of people with talent, but what if we took it just a little deeper and added character to the list of qualifiers? What if we looked for people who treated everyone with respect even when they thought no one was watching?

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