Are You Willing to Fail
It’s Been Awhile
I have been stuck in my head about a lot of things since my last post because much has been happening.
Financial issues. Moving further in the divorce process. Continuously listening to podcasts on improving my belief in my self-worth. I could not prioritize what to post.
As I type this now, I have no idea what or when I wrote and posted last. I’ll be sure to check on that after I post this.
One of the things I haven’t posted and has been poking me to be let out is Music Post. I haven’t recorded any music. Not even a music doodle, which was my last Music Post.
I’ve been learning a new song but I continue to not post because I don’t like the warts this song has. I am struggling with the timing of the chord changes and how to sing the lyrics. It sounds more like a train wreck than an attempt at a song by a musical novice.
Perhaps, I could post my struggle? Post my process of working on this song?
That would be different. That would allow me to post the train wreck and to formulate it into a piece of art. I’ve read on James Altucher’s blog, and heard him say a few times on his podcast, that “process is art”.
If I can hold myself to use that term, I think I could post my recent musical struggle.
The song I am struggling to learn is Package Thief by Superchunk. It is basically power chords. I just can’t seem to get the timing right.
Take a listen here https://youtu.be/GRQbuWxi0SI to the original song.
I’m not interested in learning the lead guitar part, just the chords and lyrics.
I’m liking this “process is art” approach the more I think about it. I think I will begin this approach this weekend. It is my weekend with the kids and I can get them to help.
Seems I just needed to write this out to gain a better perspective on this issue.
I am thankful for having this space and to make this available to anybody who might find this helpful in their own creative struggle.
Time is Pricelss
Your attention and time are the most precious things you have. You have given some of that to me and I appreciate it.
I believe that when time is given to me the best way to show my appreciation is to give my time to you.
I have visited some of the blogs of those who have visited mine. I dove into more than one posting by some of you. I really like a lot of what I have read; especially, those posts where you have shared about yourself and your struggles. The most impressive writings to me have been where you have shared what you have done to be good to you.
Choosing yourself in order to be available to others is an inspiration to me. One of my reasons for writing this blog is to be more honest with myself through my writing. I’m still working on this.
Life is tough and rough and we have to treat ourselves well.
If I don’t stop telling myself “I’m not worthy of things”, then why should I expect anybody else to think me worthy. I say some pretty horrible things to myself. If I were to say those things to my friends, I would not have any friends. If I were to say those things to my kids, I would be a horrible father and my kids’ self-esteem and self-image would crumble. Thinking about that happening to my kids breaks my heart. I would want to punch myself in the face if I said those things to my kids. So, why doesn’t it break my heart when I say those things to me? It does break my spirit. I should probably punch myself in the face for having such negativity towards me.
But physical violence only begets physical violence. We see it happening every day. Negativity begets negativity. It happens in my head all the time. That negativity has kept me from striving to do more. I have backed away from many challenges in my life because I didn’t fully believe I was worth it.
Personal examples in my creative life:
I’ve written two novels and a script for a graphic novel. I’ve attempted to get agents for one of my novels. I even knew someone who worked for a literary agency and she submitted my manuscript. It never went anywhere.
I reached out to a few artists to collaborate on my graphic novel. One artist just stopped communicating with me and another did not get back to me. It never went anywhere.
So, I’ve been knocked down and was left rejected. However, there are two points about the above.
One, I could have done a better job of following up by asking more questions. I wasn’t told my work sucked. I just wasn’t told anything. What else could I think?
Two, my passion level was not high for what I had created and promoted. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my creations to go to the next step. I just didn’t believe in myself enough to advocate more strongly for them. I didn’t give myself enough worth. I didn’t give my work enough worth.
This is something that I recently began to understand about myself. I’m a low-key guy most of the time. I can get heated and excited but mostly I try to keep my “cool”. This is not a good thing when I am trying to promote myself and my creations. How can I get others excited about what I created if I’m not getting excited about it?
I would smack my forehead, if violence didn’t beget violence. And you know what, passion and excitement begets passion and excitement. It’s those mirror neurons everybody is talking about. (You know, everybody.) If I’m acting excited then it is almost (almost) impossible for someone in my presence to not feel a little bit of that and not get a little excited themselves.
Time for low-key Nate to get out of my way to make room for passionate Nate. Excited Nate. Enthusiastic Nate. The Nate who believes his work has worth. My work does have worth.
Your work has worth. Why create it in the first place if it didn’t?
Let’s be good to us. Keep writing. Keep creating. It is worth it.
The Four Agreements
I seem to be drawn to reading things on how I can change my perspective about my life in order to improve myself. I want to think myself healthier, think myself happier, and, in some cases, to stop thinking so much and just start doing.
In Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements he presents a simple formula to follow that seems to offer a way for me to combine thinking and doing.
Perhaps, using the term formula is not correct. But I don’t know what else to call it. Maybe a process. A reprogramming. He does use computer terminology, such as, our old agreements being a virus in our programming as humans.
Miguel states that we have agreements within our minds that allow us to accept the ways things are, the negative things we believe, and the way people treat us. And no matter how detrimental those beliefs may be to or for us, we will continue to agree with them.
Miguel says there are four agreements that we can use to combat the negative agreements within ourselves. The Four Agreements are:
Be impeccable to your word
Don’t take things personally
Don’t make assumptions
Always do your best
They seem pretty straight forward and can leave you saying to yourself, “Well, of course that’s all you gotta do. Easy, so easy.”
But you have to explore them deeper, which Miguel does in his book. He explores the depths of what those agreements mean and what you must do in order to adopt them into your programming.
I am aware much more now than I ever was in my past about the negative agreements I hold onto about myself and other people. I know I am folly when it comes to talking to and about myself. My thoughts are not nice.
Over the past few months I have been able to recognize my negative self-talk about me. The power of my rationalization to not do things out of fear. I know better how to recognize my fear. How the fear plays its hand in my decision making.
Fear has played a part in most of the decisions I have made in my life. Fear has powered my rationalization to not speak, not change, and not do.
And I know so much better now that even though I know this, I am not free from the power of fear. I still watch it and let it control me.
I let fear use rationalization most recently to not play my guitar with my friend in his band. He had offered and I had gladly accepted. I’ve played with him several times live in the past. But for some reason I let fear tell me “no” this time. It told me that I wasn’t good enough. That I should go to support him and his band, but I was not good enough to play.
I ended up spending much of that day with my kids at my ex’s house, knowing that I was supposed to play that evening with my friend, but fear told me to stay longer and longer because “I’m not going to play. I’m tired. I can’t solo as well as my friend. My guitar never sounds good. My guitar is a bit dusty from sitting out and my friend my see it and make fun. The other band members will wonder why I’m there and why would my friend invite me to sit in. Just stay here with my kids for as long as I can. I’m not going to play. I just tell my friend I didn’t have time to stop off at home to get my guitar. I’ll sit on my ass and watch him play because I know I am not good enough.”
And that’s what I did.
I let the fear rationalize and put me down and talk me out of playing. And lie to my friend.
The lying makes me feel badly about me. It also makes me upset with myself for letting my fear make me miss out on another experience.
I may not be the best guitar player but I cannot let that be fuel for my fear to stop me from doing something that I really do enjoy doing.
I was not impeccable to my word. I made an assumption about what others would think of me and I didn’t do my best.
Miguel points out in his book is that we can expect to slip up and not follow those new agreements at times, maybe a lot of times, but to not get discouraged because we can always start again. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get it right every time.
Miguel also let’s me know to be aware of the Judge, Victim and belief system within me. It is like a Bizarro World Holy Trinity. Not that Miguel describes it that way.
The Judge bestows guilt and shame. The Victim agrees to the verdict of guilty and accepts the shame. The belief system is the agreements that are in place that allows the Judge and the Victim to play their roles.
In the coming weeks and months I will continue to explore and write about how my Fear and the Bizarro World Holy Trinity (BWHT) attempt to keep me from Action.
Some of my thoughts on the Four Agreements.
Be impeccable to your word – I am doing that each morning. I write my three morning pages. I treat my inner artist to creative dates.
Don’t take things personally – This is difficult. As much as I may say to myself, “this isn’t about me” I still think things that happen to me are about me.
Don’t make assumptions – This is part of what I do as a therapist. I make assumptions based on people’s behaviors and what they tell me. If we know what motivates us, or other people, we can make an assumption as to how we will react or respond to situations and people in our lives. This can be very helpful. But it does not mean our assumptions will be true.
Always do your best – I like this one just as much as the first agreement. Miguel says that our best will be different for every situation due to many factors about ourselves including emotions and health at the time we are to deliver our best. Some days our best is not going to be good enough to achieve something that we want.
If we can agree that we did the best we were capable of doing at that time, then we should be satisfied. There should be no looking back. No placing blame or guilt on ourselves because we gave all we had at that time. It is okay that our best isn’t going to be good enough every time. We don’t always have to succeed, get “it” right or be perfect.
We should accept ourselves warts and all.
What’s in a number? Moments.
I have concluded that we as human beings love numbers and lists. They are everywhere.
The internet is full of those lists. Click bait lists promising you that if you follow their simple, easy-to-do steps you will reach a personal nirvana. You will be more social, you will have a fine looking body and you will be in a financal situation where your only problem will be which Tiffany’s diamond bracelet to purchase. You know, because all your other bills will have been taken care of.
So when we want to improve ourselves we turn to lists. The best lists are numbered lists.
The 5 best ways to save money. 4 easy steps to a healthy looking body. 10 things you are doing now that keep you from achieving a more relaxed and happier you.
We as humans like lists. Give us a list of things to do, buy, or talk about and you’ve given us a purpose.
What we like more that lists is checking things off the list. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment when we look at a list with lines drawn through the words on it. That is a good feeling.
Some of us can become obsessed by lists. Obsessed with the feeling of “getting things done.” I put that last part in quotes because are we really getting things done? We feel like we are and that matters a lot if we are to continue that behavior.
Sometimes we can make lists too long and so we never complete them and never feel that sense of accomplishment. We end up feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and dejected with ourselves.
Those thoughts and feelings lead to never getting things done.
A complete, manageable, numbered list is like a promise of accomplishment. It is the key to putting us in a healthier, personal and financial place. Make a list like that and you’ll have people flocking to you.
The possibilities are endless if you have the right list.
The one thing that is not endless is time.
We only have so much time alive on this planet. That may seem a little morbid but it is the truth. We don’t truly know what will happen after we die. All we know is what is happening now in this waking world.
Our time is numbered.
We are limited to the number of hours we watch TV and movies. Or spend reading books, magazines and internet content. Or the number of times we will see friends or family and interact with them.
Thinking that way could get us to enjoy the moments with them and to stop the rush of thoughts in our heads of what we have planned for after those encounters.
My kids snuggled in bed with me the other night. My daughter, 7, wasn’t feeling well so she wanted to be close to me. My son, 11, didn’t want to sleep by himself. They have to share a room when they stay with me. I’m limited to the amount of dollars I get each paycheck to pay for an apartment as a single dad.
I slept between them so my daughter could be close to the edge of the bed in case her “not feeling well” turned into a need to rush to the bathroom.
We laid down, both of them to either side of me. My daughter reached across my chest holding her hand out to her brother who took it to comfort his little sister. A real precious moment. One of a finite that will happen and that I will be witness to.
Then they turned it into a game. They squeezed each others’ hand to some musical beat in their heads while the other would have to guess what the song was. An impossible task that neither one had a chance at guessing correctly. Soon they gave up and parted hands.
That may be the only time that happens, but I was there to witness. To be present in that moment. I had to pull myself out of my own thoughts to be present. I could have ignored the whole thing and kept worrying about work the next day, would I get enough sleep, could I finish my work before I had to leave.
I was leaving work early that next day to go watch my kids sing in their school Holiday show. Another finite event.
Perhaps it was that I was already thinking about finite school show moments that made it possible for me to recognize that moment in bed as a finite experience.
I had been primed to recognize the importance of recognizing those moments.
Practicing that skill of being in the moment when it happens could be the only thing to scratch off one of my lists. Maybe it is the only list I need with only that one item on it.
Be present to recognize the importance of the moment.
Because the moment is all we really have.
Recently, I woke up in the morning with almost paralyzing anxiety. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to call out sick. I wanted to just stay in bed.
I was sick. I was in a grip of hopelessness.
There have been some changes happening at my place of employment and I am overwhelmed.
I’m a manager and whenever there is change, I am one of a few who have to coordinate the change among our limited staff and resources.
And I am worn out.
One of the other managers is moving on and out of the company. She is number four of those who have moved on within the past two years. Every time one of them has moved on, more change has occurred.
And I’m worn out.
In the mornings, I wake up to NPR playing on my clock radio. It’s news I can listen to. Normally. But that particular morning it was one bad headline after another. Budgets that support big business. Political support of child and women molesters. Repeal of protected lands so oil and gas companies can drill.
I had watched a Netflix documentary that past evening, “Saving Capitalism.” If you want to know what it’s about, just see my description of NPR’s news cast in the last paragraph.
A raping of society in several ways that keeps getting worse. Nothing was right or fair in the world.
And I am worn out.
I eventually got up and out of bed. I’m not truly sure how I did it but I did. I showered and even managed to get food in me. My anxiety usually suppresses my appetite, but I made myself eat.
I took many deep breaths along the way. I used all my coping techniques that I could think of to get me through.
Then while getting my shoes on, my wall broke down. My skills were of no use to me anymore at that moment.
The tears came. Real crying came. Not just watery eyes and feeling overtaxed. But real crying. Sound and all.
I hated being brought to that point. Why had I been brought to that point?
The crying felt good. I obviously needed to cry. I was hurting inside. For many reasons. I had been strong for so long. I had to stop being strong. It was hurting me.
I’m still hurting. I’m still getting up each day. I am still worn out, but I’m looking forward.
It is time. Time that I was looking and attempting to move on from my pain.
Those Thoughts That Destory
I am now fully aware that I have for the longest time not believed, nor felt, that I am good enough.
Good enough to be accepted
Good enough to be loved
Good enough financially
Good enough intelligently
Good enough creatively
In my head I will justify why I will not ask for more. I believe that there is always someone better to do the task.
There is someone better to be a friend.
Someone better to be a partner.
Someone better to do the job.
Someone better from whom to get love and security.
I believe I don’t deserve more money at work because what I am doing is not deserving of more recognition or financial compensation.
I was in a relationship for 20 years and I believed I was not enough. I didn’t communicate enough. I wasn’t assertive enough. I didn’t take control of situations enough. I didn’t make enough money in my single job and should have worked more to provide enough.
That is what I believed.
Some of my “not enough” thoughts are my own concoctions based on things I heard and saw as I was growing up. Some were developed through the years as an adult.
These self-damaging beliefs are so pervasive I find it very difficult, at this moment, give you a list of reasons why you should spend the day with me. Or be my friend. Or date me.
Yet, I could make a healthy sized list of why you would be bored in my presence. I will not do that here and now. It may be a healthy sized list but it would not be healthy to do.
I continue to have those thoughts that destroy my sense of positive self-worth. I knew they were here inside me. I knew they kept me from taking risks. But I hid from them. I didn’t know that hiding from them was giving those beliefs power over me.
Because I was hiding I didn’t realize that I started to accept these beliefs that I was not good enough. That is why I never paid attention to the things I do that give me worth. And even when I knew I had worth, I believed that somebody else deserved [place thing here]. They deserved whatever it was more than I did.
I would look at another guy walking down the street or in a store and my thoughts would be, “That guy is better looking than me. He’s in better shape than I am. He probably has a high paying job and can afford to go out and spend money with no problem. So, any girl I would be with would regret being with me because she could have that guy.”
I have this negative scenario that loops in my head: If it came down to a choice be between me and “that guy”, “that guy” would always be chosen over me.
Since I believe that and live that in my actions, of course “that guy” will get chosen or “those other people” deserve more than I do.
Those guys deserve the love, money, and relationships more than I do. They are more willing to bet on themselves than I am. They say “I am worth it. I want it and so I will get it.” So they deserve what they get because they believe in themselves more.
This is the battle of thoughts that I fight everyday. Or do I really fight in this battle? Sometimes I think I do. Other times I think I was defeated a long time ago and continue to nurse the battle scars.
I am aware and recognize the negative self-talk that is fueling the negative self-belief. And I am able to stop wallowing in self-pity. These are steps in the right direction, but the process is too slow.
I need to get out of my negative headspace to save myself. Being more honest in my writing is part of that process.
There Were Supposed to be Explosions
When I started writing this blog, I was aware that I had started two other blogs that I did not keep up on. They were great idea blogs: one about our family with pics and witty sayings and another about being a dad.
They died. The family blog had a little fight in it towards the end, but the dad blog died quickly without even a whimper. I just wasn’t willing to dedicate the time it took to write and upkeep. So they died as all things will do without attention and nurture.
I put off starting this blog because I didn’t want it to be a failure. I knew I wanted to write my thoughts, post my interests in writing and music and get a big following. I even came up with a cool title after carefully thinking about it. Life Supernova. My life was exploding and imploding and I wanted to write about it. But I wasn’t ready to write about what really mattered. More on that later.
However, I kept putting it off. Years of putting it off. I knew at the time I would not commit to writing for it. Hell, that term there gives a glimpse of my thought process. “Writing for it.” Not writing for myself. Not writing because it is a deep need with in me to write.
I was looking for external reasons to write. Where were my internal reasons?
I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t looking for them.
Then my life did explode. It was a contained explosion. First the slow implosion of anger and resentment towards my wife for her long hours at work. Which left me pretty much as a single parent with a full-time job.
It was a situation we both placed ourselves in. Our children suffered her absence and our marriage suffered due to the lack of communication in her absence.
You see, I have a bad habit of not admitting when too much is too much. I have a pattern of not speaking up or speaking out. I don’t speak to my needs. So over time: explosion.
This is damaging to any relationship; friend, partner, marriage, work, etc. And I continue to have this issue. So over time: explosion.
Now I am a single parent (explosion). I live in a small two bedroom apartment. My kids have to share a room when they are with me, which is 50% of the time.
This is the reality that I haven’t written about. It is the reality that I need to write about, whether or not it gets read by anybody else.
My life supernovaed and this is my truth. Single. Parent. Afraid.