27 September 2009

SUPPORT serves a purpose

"Don’t get your hopes up!"   Were you warned of this as a child? What does this say? It says that life is bound to disappoint you. It says, don’t aim high because you’re not likely to get what you want. It says that we can’t expect good things to happen to us. ~ Samuel Smiles

To HOPE is to WANT very much.  I can imagine that a few decades ago that sort of thinking was the norm, but it has no place in society today given the immense amount of opportunities and choices we have at our fingertips, no matter what our ethnic or financial background.   Having "hope" is the first step towards fulfilling a desire, fulfilling a dream, attaining a goal, achieving ANYTHING, as it pertains to career, love, health, family, character, attitude.

The pessimistic mindset of a person who believes and reiterates to others, "don't get your hopes up," is a very toxic and crippling weapon.  In one verbal delivery, that person's negative words can fray the initial composition of a potential successful person because words (especially from people that matter to us) have POWER.  

I meet these people everyday, the ones that say, "I can't possibly do that" or "oh that's not for me."  I often wonder why they think that way.  You can't know what you can do until you have seriously tried to do it.  Then I realize that most people have a bunch of negative, dream busters in their lives ramming these thoughts into their subconscious to the point that these myths are embedded. 

There is a huge population of critical people in this world that enjoy sitting around and complaining about what is WRONG with the state of our existence meanwhile those very same people are NOT offering to do anything to make this world a better place.   If you are going to criticize and not come up with solutions (and put them into action) you truly should KEEP QUIET, and leave the people who are DOING ... perhaps even SPEAKING and HOPING ...... leave them alone!

We hear a lot of good quotes from a lot of wise people and they make us respond, "oh that is a good one," because we share the sentiment, we can relate. The people who make these quotes, make them based on their own life experiences, or based on people they have met.  As human beings, we share a COMMONALITY of BEHAVIOR.   We either love unconditionally or conditionally, and we either want love, or we are afraid of love.  We want to be accepted, we want to get along, and we want to survive. 

As much as it is necessary to appreciate the earth, it's trees, grass, the sun, the moon, we first seek to have relationships.  We are beings on this earth intended to interact with one another.  Consider, it would not matter one bit if you had a beautiful house, a car, took vacations, dined out, and lived on the earth all by yourself. What would the point be???   Could you build a house by yourself?  Could you build a car by yourself?  When you went on vacation, who would be there when you got there and what would you do with your time?   Who would you eat with?   So it's easy to see that life would be no life without other human beings to share it with.

SHARE.....That is what we teach our children to do when they are very young, but it seems we forget about that lesson when we grow up.  Sharing can be in any capacity, it can be sharing food, clothes, ideas, inspiration, love, a home, money, work.....It's an act of showing human kindness.   You can go out and buy the nicest house, but if you don't have anyone to enjoy it with you, what's the point?

What about sharing SUPPORT?  People try to PROVE that they are "givers" by telling others how they "give" clothes to Goodwill, or they lend money sometimes, or they give money to the homeless or charities, but when it comes to their LOVED ONES and FRIENDS the giving stops.

Consider some scenarios: 

Your dear brother Ralph decides he wants to open a restaurant because he is a FANTASTIC chef who loves to entertain small and large crowds, and the entire family and all of his friends actually say to him over and over, "your food is amazing, better than what half the restaurants serve."  However, Ralph really does not know anything about starting a restaurant, and should this matter? Suddenly everyone thinks it's not a good idea because the idea seems too overwhelming, perhaps more so for them and not Ralph.  WHY???  Why can't everyone rally around Ralph and say, "We are going to make calls and find out who can help you get this going.  We are behind you 200%.  We want to see you succeed."  Ralph has the talent, so this should happen right?  It seems in instances like this (and similar ones) that friends and family have their own agenda and don't really SUPPORT you when THEY have their doubts.  It not helpful to be doubtful when it comes to someone else's dream.   It is more helpful to be HELPFUL.  In order for Ralph to succeed with this dream, he will have to seek HELP and loving support outside, and quite frankly it will mean more work for him because now he also has to work harder to PROVE to the family that he can do this without their support.  See how THEY have caused this venture to be harder for him?

Another one:

Your lovely wife Angela gained a lot of weight since you have been married.  First it was having children that was the excuse and then it seems that her job is so demanding and she has no time to focus on herself.  You can clearly see that she is struggling to keep it together, you argue lots and now you are disgusted with the whole situation.  You are treating her like she did all of this on purpose.  Yes, she has to take the blame for not being in better control of her choices, BUT, human beings sometimes just want the person closest to them to be more UNDERSTANDING and more SUPPORTIVE.  Would it not be better to reflect back on why you got together in the first place and work together to get back to a place of love and respect at minimum?  Overlook the necessity to have hurtful exchanges of words, and focus on how to achieve some necessary goals together.  Wouldn't it be EASIER for Angela if her husband would express an interest in her well-being??  It will be extra difficult for Angela to find her way back to living a happy, healthy existence because she has to go it alone or hopefully find some outside support.  

My story: 
I can share one instance (I have many others too) that happened in my life when I was married.  When I first met the father of my children, I was training for the marathon and he was in awe.  While we dated, he was very "interested" in my running, used to support me in the most incredible ways.  Sometimes he would drive while I ran on certain roads to make sure I was ok, or he would actually drive me to some great trails/paths, or he would ride his bike while I ran.  He would shop for foods that I liked, or take me to restaurants that had foods that I liked, all the while being very thoughtful about "my" diet.  Everything that mattered to me concerning my running, mattered to him.  Years after we were married however, and our marriage was breaking down, he was getting less and less interested in my running, even though he KNEW it was still very meaningful to me.   When my first baby was born, you would think that he would voluntarily say, "I know you want to run, so go ahead, I will stay with the baby,"   He did SOMETIMES, but often it came with stipulations and restrictions, this I thought was certainly not out of love and respect.  

Then it came time for me to train to run the marathon a 2nd time (11 years after I did the 1st one), and that meant I had to commit to a lot of "strict" training.   He knew exactly what that meant.   But did I have his support?  No.  I was on my own.  Luckily I was NOT really on my own, and I can admit that there would not have been anyway that I could have trained so well without SUPPORT.  I needed to have peace of mind that I could show up for all my training runs, and all my sessions at the gym to do cross-training.  I had a wonderful person living in our house who helped with the children .


This was not an easy feat.  When you share a life with someone who deliberately gets up everyday and SHOWS you their DISAPPROVAL of what you are trying to do for yourself, it can make you want to give up and not try.  It can break your spirit when they don't even ask you how your training (plans) is coming along or how you "feel."   You need your energy to devote to the training, but here you are giving a portion of that energy to DEALING with their LACK of enthusiasm for you.  You may even be arguing at times.  It also can be that the person is offering absolutely NO response about what you are doing.  They are just neutral with nothing to say and that can be JUST AS BAD, or just the same as being negative.  It's a horrible thing when someone tries to destroy your SPIRIT and your DREAMS.    It's takes a lot to rise above, and you DO indeed need SOMEONE(s) in your corner.  I was lucky that year because I had a LOT of outside SUPPORT and it kept me strong and able to run the most FANTASTIC marathon -- I ran strong, the day was gorgeous and I will remember THAT day FOREVER!!! 

Why is it that some people seem to blatantly decide that they WON'T help that certain loved one?   They know in their hearts that when they turn their back on that relative or that friend, that they are leaving them to struggle.  These types of actions are deliberate and heartless.  Even if a person has "issues" with what a person is trying to achieve, wouldn't it be better to sit and discuss the issues rather than to just run away and show no interest???  

I have heard some young people say things like, "my father told me that if I major in Music he will not pay my college tuition."  Meanwhile this person is clearly musically talented, but his or her parent has taken it upon themselves to restrict their child from aspiring to be what comes naturally to them.  Years of anguish will go by, resentment between child and parents.  If this young person is truly musically talented, he or she will have to struggle to achieve their goals to be a musician. 

How about those wives who mumble about how they want to just hire a carpenter because they have no patience to wait for their husband (who is obviously not a carpenter) to put down a new tile in the bathroom.  The lack of support, and the lack of encouragement is a catalyst toward making said husband not believe in HIMSELF and his ABILITIES.  Is this really necessary?   

And now our children.  Many parents don't realize how much strength their words have.  Even if you have a child born with a certain personality, it does not mean that they will remain that way.   It's important as parents to ENCOURAGE our children, make them believe in themselves.  Tell them they should TRY if they express an interest in something.   Perhaps even YOU, the parent, can take the time and TEACH YOUR CHILD whatever it is they are interested in.  

“If you sell yourself out to get approval, you will miss what you really want: authenticity, passion, and aliveness."  ~  Alan Cohen

As much as people know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, loving and not so loving, they still seem to resist the urge to make the best choices as it pertains to the other people in their lives. There exists a huge, "What's in it for me?" attitude that permeates many of our lives.  It can come from our own parents, brothers, sisters, people who you would think WOULD indeed support you, be your advocate, share your dream, encourage you to DO YOUR BEST.... keep it going until you succeed.

Consider weightloss and how so many people struggle with their programs.  They start, and within a couple days or weeks, they stop.  Many times they stop because there is NO one around them supporting and encouraging them daily to keep it going.  The people that are around them don't stop and notice when they are having a "bad" day, or perhaps they do and just don't care.   Sometimes these people fail because the people around them are WILLING it to happen... they want them to fail.  There are indeed people who DON'T want to see their loved ones succeed.  It could be that they feel threatened or just that they have no sense of THINKING OUTSIDE the BOX.  

This quote from Alan Cohen is a powerful one.  Our choices in life should not be made in order to make people around us happy, they are to be made to fulfill US.... the individual.  You can not be living a happy life if you are doing things to PLEASE others.  You are not being true to yourself.  You will never be happy if you try to do what you think someone else wants you to do.   Where is your passion?  What is your reason for being??  Are you getting up everyday saying, "I love my life, and I love the choices I make," or are you getting up everyday saying, "I am doing this to get the approval of others."   It seems that there are a lot of disgrunted, miserable people in the world doing this, and their interactions with others are also miserable because they lack the ability to feel good about their own existence.

“From the time of conception until we are adults we are strongly influenced by the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of others." ~ Karol K. Truman.

"When a thought (in this case, something someone said) is fed to us, and this thought connects with an established feeling that becomes energized by an emotional response, we unconsciously buy into what the person said as though it were an authentic, actual, valid truth. Sometimes the thought fed to us may even be a further validation of our already established, false, or incorrect feelings and beliefs. Or, that particular thought may start a new system of beliefs. These beliefs which we see or think of as truth, may be correct or incorrect." ~Karol K. Truman

How amazingly powerful is that?  And true.  We grow up believing much of what our parents and teachers said to us and it molds our thinking.  It also may stagnate us and not allow us to become who we WANT to BE, and do what we WANT to do, or just do what we SHOULD do.  We limit ourselves with such beliefs.  These teachings foster the type of parents we become.  We often say, "that's not how I was raised."   Not all of us were raised under ideal circumstances, and not everything we were taught was healthy and much of it should not be duplicated.  

The bottom line is, we can easily determine in this life who we should support and encourage.  If you have a child that you want to see grow up to do great things in life, you must be there for him or her along the way offering all the encouragement and the resources as much as possible.   If you have that friend that wants to lose weight or run a race, encourage them.  Tell them that you support them, and tell them that you want to see them achieve their goals.  Call them from time to time and see how they are coming along.  Offer to be that "listening ear" if necessary.  If you have someone who wants to start a business or take on a project, sit down and say, "ok, do you need help?  Do you know all the right people who can help you?"  This is a better approach instead of saying "oh wow, well good luck to you" and leaving them to fend for themselves.  

The energy an "abandoned" person uses up can set them back considerably and this is a shame especially if the person has already invested time making steps towards their goals.  Their minds may get cluttered with thoughts of doubt, or "why isn't anyone supporting or encouraging me" or "do they want to see my fail?"  You have to get around the people that UPLIFT and SUPPORT. 

Thank God for all the wonderful quotes and all the wonderful people who go out of their way to inspire each and every one of us.  The inspiration is REAL.   It's there to be adhered to... to strengthen ... to uplift... to give love and a lot of HOPE.  


Lynne Gordon said...

Hi Jacquie,

Your story is not dissimilar to mine except that my other half was on a self-destructive bent and would not even stand by quietly and watch me succeed at anything.

My relationship was emotionally abusive while it appears yours was equally as destructive but psychologically damaging to you, as well.

I hope you are out of it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jacquie,
I am posting this anonymously.
I am a longtime psychologist (phd) and also help
other realize their goals of building a business.

My choice of profession was considered very unconventional to my very traditional Italian family.
I struggled in my early years to get my practice off the ground while raising a family. I also worked in corporate America to maintain income and benefits for my family until my business was gaining a steady source of income.
I can tell you – parents of adult children and siblings can be reticent about helping grown children and this is where the “soft, unwaveringly kind but persistent” approach comes in. I needed the assistance of my very skeptical mother because my wife and I could not afford childcare. My very reluctant mother had raised few kids and had grown very fond of her new leisurely schedule. I had to take on a very gentle but frequent approach to winning her over. I showed up with the kids almost every Sunday with some gesture of help/chore or gift or dish in two. I had to endure some rather long monologues about my choice of career and concern over financial stability – but after weeks of prolonged focus on accomplishing this goal – the challenge was achieved. This was no small feat.

In some ways, It is normal for families to not share our passion. Emphasis on some ways. If someone is not
living our existence – it is harder for them to show support. More often families are supportive – if they observed us chipping away slowly, wisely and methodically at our dream - built on a solid foundation.

Achieving that dream – is not always going to happen now – sometimes it might happen overtime. I once spoke to a woman in her 50’s who was an assistant to a CEO. In her office was her mini museum of her many businesses. The smile on her face was very telling – though she toiled in corporate America for decades – her current future holds something very different. She had to keep her corporate job while raising family – and good medical care was critical need for her ailing daughter. All the while – in stolen weekends, holidays – she managed to build three businesses slowly and undeterred.

Right now a huge source of dissention in families is
finances. In varying income levels – some families are asking to take on what can be seen as unreasonable
financial burdens from adult children. Parents coming from more careful, cautious history of finances and who have helped generously in the past – might well be in their rights to refuse to do more. At some point – parents will have to say no to financial help especially if they are not rich. By not doing so – it does not teach adult children to be accountable for their actions. If I want to start a business that my family thinks shows little or not promise – I better have the finances to see it through and not blame my family for not wanting to help further.

G. A., Phd