I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful start to your Sunday. We’re all experiencing a myriad of emotions, all of which are ok, as we continue through our time social distancing. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we have a tendency to hold onto things, a manner of emotional hoarding. And in the spirit of themes related to some of my daughters favorite songs, brings me to writing a bit today about letting it go.
My belief is that we live this life for the opportunities and experiences. Growing and learning, hopefully within love, with our families. Meeting people and building relationships, some that quickly pass and some last a lifetime. We have school, eventually work, extracurricular activities. Trips to places exotic, some places maybe less so, be they for work or vacation. There are times when things feel like they are amazing, almost too good to be true. And then those things in life that bring us challenges. The good and the challenging both waves to be ridden and appreciated. And for me I’ve found I spent time rushing to get away from the challenging times, instead of embracing them with equal value as the good.
And as we walk through life, collecting these experiences, they obviously inform our worldview. Our society enforcing right and wrong, black and white. Those things we’ve seen, that in the moment didn’t feel like they were going our way, many of us store them in the chip on our shoulder. We sometimes learn that we have a duty to help clarify this right and wrong for others. Taking the form of debate and argument. And this is never truer than in this age of social media. Our treatment of others, our political viewpoints, our taste in music, our clothes or hair. All topics for argument. And depending on the size of the chip, some interesting and deep arguments.
I have had my share of social media debates. And at times I’d get sucked in with the best of them. Friends that were close in high school, end up with streams of comments going back and forth debating and arguing the right/wrong and black/white. Two incidents seemed to bring this to a head for me. Scrolling one day, I noticed an inaccuracy someone posted about education in North Carolina. I felt an urge to ‘right this wrong’, and began posting comments with links to the curriculum and providing facts from my experiences with our own children in the NC school system. This didn’t seem to change the tone or direction of the conversation, people dug in with their own versions of the facts. And I ended up deciding I’d show them, and my ‘take that’ was of course an unfollow.
Another situation that stuck with me was back in 2016. I came home from a rally for a politician I was excited to hear from and potentially support. Enhancing the excitement was the opening speaker, who was a well known progressive scholar. I took some video, and like many of us would do, excitedly posted it to my timeline. It didn’t take long for some old ‘friends’ to chime in with the ‘how could you’ comments. If I could support someone like this, and had an ‘insert name here’ view of politics, well I could just unfriend them now. So like any level headed connoisseur of the social mediums, I unfriended them.
Now I’ve always felt myself up for a good debate. Some of my favorite classroom experiences were when we were assigned debate topics for projects. One of the best was an Econ class where we debated decriminalizing marijuana. I’ll let you guess which side I took, and it was interesting to see how entrenched early college aged kids were to their side of the argument. Ironically some of the same arguments continue in our society some 20 + years later. As I grew older, I saw my right/wrong distinctions become stronger. And my willingness to argue specific points grew as well. Drive too slow/too fast, swerve lanes and cutting people off, well let me teach you how to drive. You don’t agree with my taste in music, well let me tell you why my selections are best, and of course you need to learn the error of your ways. Don’t like my approach for a project, well don’t get me started.
And while I half expected some softening in our timelines during our time safe at home, it feels like we’re deepening further into our corners and arguments. This idea of ‘let it go’ heightened for me as we spend more time with in our homes with our families. In my case 6 of us in the house, my wife and I and our children ages 9 – 19. Patience of course will be challenged – daily if not hourly. And I expect and understand this. But I also find myself observing them more, and curious as a discussion amongst the kids can very quickly escalate into an I’m right your wrong set of volleys.
For me through coaching and self-development, I came to understand how much that chip on my shoulder had come to weigh. I may have dropped 50 physical pounds. But boy that emotional chip weighed a ton at times. I realized this was just as bad for my health as the belly fat I shed. My core beliefs haven’t changed. I will happily confess I am super liberal. Seeing fear as a tool used to foment hate and break us into subgroups hurts me to my core. But I came to realize a view of right and wrong is personal, not to be despised or shamed or argued down further entrenching us to respective corners. I feel so much lighter, so much more free, without carrying a ready made right/wrong argument. And realizing this doesn’t take away or weaken what I believe, or my principles.
So as we continue in many areas of the world to hunker down safe at home. I ask you to consider, what are we fighting for in our social media engagements. When posting our ‘gotchas’ to our friends and peers, when diving into a celebrities timeline to alert them to the errors of their ways, do we come away feeling empowered. Not the initial adrenaline rush of the gotcha when you hit send, hoping for a volley back or someone to take notice. But afterwards, when simmering in our thoughts, are we really empowering ourselves with fake/real, right/wrong, open/close arguments.
Of course we can always agree to disagree. And engaging in dialogue and debate is healthy. We’re unable to advance without acknowledging differences. I personally would be lost without the opportunity to learn from others. But I hope we all can take a chance to assess our timeline, take a look at our engagement with others. We should always be free to feel what we feel, believe as we do and choose as we like. But also take a chance to drop some emotional weight, especially during a time like this. And I think you’ll be surprised at how light you feel, how freeing it can be, to release the feeling of needing the argument to be right.
I’d love your feedback on this and any of my posts. I am always available for discussion offline. Initial 30 minute coaching sessions are always free. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagra, @strauss51. Have a beautiful rest of your Sunday and incredible week ahead. Sending you love, light and laughter ❤️🙏