This took me a long time to learn.
I grew up in a very hard family. My Dad was raised in an orphanage and he learned at a young age what it took to survive. With the best of intentions, he did a very good job passing that wisdom along to his daughters. I in turn learned young how to survive. I learned that you never backed down. You never started a fight and you certainly never ran from one. You never showed fear because they could smell it on you. These are some of the words of wisdom I received heading off to my first day of kindergarten. I still remember sitting there with my lunchbox praying that no one picked on me because I knew I would have to fight back if I wanted to go home that afternoon. I really wanted to go home that afternoon.
I took these lessons to heart as a child and struggled with them most of my adult life.
I struggled with the fear that I would be weak if I showed a soft side. This fear of coming across as weak turned into anger. As it turned out that anger was my ultimate weakness. Around and around it went and I didn’t know how to stop it. Ugh, it was such a vicious circle. At the end of this cycle, I was an angry person, I was an alcoholic, I was a hot mess. I was never a mean person. I was just a confused person that wanted to be strong but didn’t know what strength really was. I was like this well into my early 50’s. I was angry and I didn’t know how to release that anger in a healthy way. It was so much easier to drink the anger away, or at least dull the anger that ran through me, a least for a little while. But as we all know, the anger always comes back and it brings its ugly friends shame and guilt. I was a big bubbling mess of anger, alcohol, guilt and shame. I tried to fight people, I flew off the handle at the smallest thing, I wouldn’t back down from anyone. It felt like I had a black vortex in my mind. All of this, because I didn’t want to be weak.
So how did this madness stop?
It wasn’t overnight that’s for sure and there was no quick fix. It took a lot of soul searching, reading and journaling, but I finally found my path to true strength. I’m going to share some of what I learned and how I changed that pattern. With a side note……
Side Note: I’m a firm believer and will say this often. We all have our own paths and what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. If you are looking for any life change, read what others have done and how they have changed their lives but mold it to fit you. Not two journeys are ever the same.
Step One: Stop drinking. I got rid of all sorts of problems when I stopped drinking and my anger problem was one of them. I could feel myself settling down and the things that pissed me off before were no longer doing that. It was like slowly letting the air out of balloon.
Step Two: Letting go of the past: This one is always hard for me. I had to get over the idea that I was letting my Dad down. I had to reprogram myself to believe something totally different. The first couple of times that I just let something go, I felt weak. But deep down inside of me I knew that wasn’t true. I have found that letting go of the past has helped me in so many areas of my life. Our past shapes us but it does not define who we are today.
Step Three: Figuring the true meaning of strength. To find the true meaning of strength you just have to look around you. Strength is the person who goes out of their way to help others. Strength is the person who feed the homeless. Strength is the person who forgive others. Strength is not the bully. Strength is lead by confidence, not by the ego. Anyone can be angry, the strong can be kind.
Even today I still have to constantly remind myself that I don’t have to fight everyone. I know it makes me the stronger person if I’m the first one to say “Sorry”. But I also know what to look for. I know when I’m triggering myself and old thoughts start popping up.
I know from the bottom of my heart that my Dad, didn’t teach me these things to screw me up. He truly thought he was giving us a head start on how to survive a hard world. I do thank him for the strength that he taught me. The never quit attitude that make me succeed in business. I will be telling a lot of stories about my Dad, he was amazing. Hard, but amazing.