Choosing Your Battle (K.Blais)

battle (noun) – an extended contest, struggle, or controversy.

principle (noun) – a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions.      (www.merriam-webster.com)

Image result for battle of principles quotes

Throughout our experiences in life, we often find ourselves having to choose our battles.

There are always (and will always be) issues or concerns that will pop up in our daily lives which we must deal with in one way or another. We may choose to address the concern, to ignore the issue, or even to file it away to be dealt with on another day. We may choose to handle one battle over another, weighing out the pros and cons, perhaps even asking ourselves ‘how much does it really matter anyway?’

There are times though, when we are more successful at “choosing” our battles appropriately. This is often difficult for us as human beings because even though we attempt to stay rational and ‘logical’, our hearts (that is our emotions and feelings) become involved and it is hard to look past the “principle” of the battle itself.

We may also find it difficult to choose to ignore  or ‘let go’ of certain issues because we may feel that they blatantly go against our own morals, beliefs, and principles. We may also struggle with injustices in certain situations, mainly because we believe that we would never treat others in the way in which they are treating someone else.

Lying often begins at a young age. Lying about something small and trivial like who took the skipping rope isn’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things, but the act of lying is. If we are going to lie about taking a skipping rope when we are young, what won’t we lie about when we are older? The art of lying becomes a tangled web which we weave and one in which we often trap ourselves.

Disrespecting another person in words or in actions isn’t ever ok, but is it as bad as physically being aggressive towards someone else? Perhaps not, but it is still wrong. We may find it very difficult to let disrespect “go” because respect is something we all deserve to be given (because it is something which we all want in return).

Being trustworthy, honest, and kind is not everyone’s goal, believe it or not. There are some who do not care if there are people in this world who actually trust them nor may they care that they cannot be trusted, how honest or dishonest they are, or even if they show kindness to others or not. It is often unclear to us as to why individuals may act this way,  which makes it very difficult to understand these actions especially when our own principles do not allow us to support, condone, or even to adequately explain this behaviour.

Let’s try to remember:

We were put on this Earth to help one another. If we can’t help one another, then we certainly shouldn’t hurt one another.

Words and inaction can inflict as much damage as physically aggressive acts. Our words and behaviours are what shape our reputation for the most part so we should choose them wisely.

We will often have no idea what battles the person next to us may be fighting. Choose to be kind over being anything else.

The Golden Rule isn’t that hard to live by – if you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else. It’s that simple.

Whatever our beliefs and principles are, our own struggles and trials will come and go. We will have to choose our battles and to fight them in our own way, without losing sight of our principles in the process.

Is Your Life The Perfect Storm? (K.Blais)

Have you ever thought about your life as the perfect storm? Let’s think about it for a moment.

A “perfect storm” describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances aggravate a situation drastically. (Wikipedia)

Has there ever been a time or times in your life where you have thought that nothing else could possibly go wrong and then something else did? Have you wondered and/or had regrets about the choices you have made? Have you ever wished that you had tried a little harder, done something else that may have made things somehow different than they are right now?

Many of us have had regrets, have wished for “do-overs”, or have yearned for the road less travelled. But consider this: perhaps everything that has happened to us, the good, the bad, and the ugly, has all come together to make the perfect storm which is now our life.

The ‘perfect storm’ is a bit of an oxymoron if you think about it and consider its true definition. There is nothing perfect about a storm which creates a calamitous situation, other than that the storm is the perfection of the elements which came together to create it.

I considered this as I drove home tonight. Maybe our lives are each the perfect storm in their own way because our lives are themselves “the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances” like the actual phenomenon itself.

In my own self-reflecting, I considered that perhaps I have experienced betrayal and hurt from those I thought would always support me because I was meant to reach out to others who I would learn would stand by me to ride all the waves in the ocean.

Perhaps it was supposed to be that I would find myself needing to search for ways to improve the quality of my health and my lifestyle and in that search I would find a new friend and establish a great support system with others.

Perhaps the things that have happened in which I have felt wronged, attacked, slighted, or ignored, have all happened so that my own self confidence and self awareness would grow.

Maybe we are meant to lose or suffer loss somewhat in life – our jobs, our dignity, our friends, our loved ones, in order that our situation becomes aggravated enough that we are driven to change. Maybe we are meant to lose so that the storm pushes us in the direction where we can win.

Perhaps we fight, we battle, we live, we learn through all the negative and aggravating experiences in our life so that they all come together to build us into the people who we are today. If we consider it this way, then we need the negative, the bad, and the ugly, to allow us to grow and to ‘perfect’ ourselves.

All of our experiences combine themselves into the rare and unique set of circumstances which God has intended to be our life. While in most contexts anything described as the ‘perfect storm’ is most likely to have severe and negative consequences, if we think of our life as a series of factors and components which have shaped us and formed us, then maybe we can realize that our own chaotic lives are perfect storms indeed.

Just A Different Shade Of Green (K.Blais)

Recently, in conversation with a dear friend, the phrase “The grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence)” came up. My friend had heard an interesting spin on the usual phrase and she added, “It’s just a different shade of green” and I thought, ‘Oh, how true that is!’

(image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

How many times in each of our lives have we wondered, considered, even believed that the grass may be greener on the other ‘side’ of our current situation? In the workplace or our employment situations, we may believe that things would be better if only we had a different job, position, or responsibilities. In our relationships, we may wonder if we would be better suited with someone else or maybe even alone. In our personal reflections, we may feel that if we looked differently, acted differently, or even associated with different people that our lives would be happier; the proverbial grass would be greener, thereby making our lives ‘better’.

Not to burst anyone’s bubble or to rain on any parades, but I don’t think the grass is ever really greener over “there”. I agree whole-heartedly that the grass may look and appear alluring and may be a different shade of green just like my friend stated, but it is still grass.

We will not be able to change the things that need to be changed in our selves and in our current situations if we are always looking for the quick fix of wanting what’s over the fence. We need to mow our own lawns before we want to be on someone else’s. We need to clear off our own doorsteps before we wish we were on the steps of a different house. We need to break our own cycles of laziness or even craziness before we can think that simply being somewhere (emotionally or physically) different is going to change us.

Issues we have at work, in our relationships, or with ourselves will remain constant no matter what side of the fence we are on because they are usually problematic elements deep within ourselves, not in our environment. If we cannot recognize those things as the root of what is ‘wrong’, then they will continue to follow us despite which fences or grass we search out. Remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. This applies to grass gleaning as well.

Now, change can be good, things that are broke do need to be fixed, and sometimes fences can’t be mended or bridges unburned. BUT – if we want greener grass simply because it seems to look better, promises to be more fun, or appears to be the easy way out, then we are searching in vain. Many times things appear better than they are; our perspective or perception may be one way, when reality is completely another. Remember also: The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

In our search for greener grass, we may even be allowing envy or greed to dictate our feelings and enabling our beliefs that we are not and do not have enough. We may have a fear of commitment, of boredom, or even a fear of losing our zest for life. We may feel inferior when others succeed or achieve more than what we do. Whichever is the case, the idea that there will be something over the fence that will allow us to have all that we want, crave, desire, and value and that it will happen on our terms, is a fantasy that many of us fall victim to.

When we constantly search for greener grass we forget that the key to happiness is to make the most of what we have. When we are constantly yearning for what is on the other side of the fence, we lose confidence in ourselves and have a hard time remembering that the focus should be on our own lives and making the best of them. We may even lose hope that our lives can be wonderful and fulfilling just as they are because we are so caught up in wanting the seemingly wonderfulness of the grass that is just out of our reach.

We can’t have the grass over the fence. We can only have our own. Even if we test out the terrain on the other side, that grass becomes ours anyway and will eventually lose its appeal. There will always be another fence with greener grass that we will continue to want. We may even start to desire the grass back over on the original side of the fence where we came from as well.

We can only have our grass and the sooner we accept that as a fact, the sooner we can work on improving and growing our own. The grass is always greenest where it is watered. Let’s work on ‘tending to the grass wherever we are’. After all, grass is still grass, whatever shade of green it might end up being.

Handle With Care: Marked With Regret (K.Blais)

At one point in my life I made the following statement,

“I choose to live without regrets. Each and every choice which I have made, or chose not to make, was the best decision that I could make at the time.”

Such a bold statement, isn’t it? Doesn’t it just ooze immense self confidence and self assurance?

It’s also a sham and pretty much an absolute lie.

I don’t really remember what stage I was at in my life when I uttered these words, all I know is that I was very naïve to think that I could live my life without feeling an ounce of regret over something I did, something I didn’t do, words which I have said, or even words which I didn’t say. To be honest, I am not even sure that I believed the words when I said them myself, but they sounded clever, brilliant, and I may have even impressed a few people momentarily. I may have tried to make the best decision I could make at the time and I could attempt to live without regrets with the best of intentions, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the way my life would end up.

Ideally, we may hope to live a life without regret. We may hope that each decision we have made throughout our lives has been well intentioned and will not one day lead to regret, but really that’s all it is – an idealistic hope. It is hard, maybe even impossible, to say that at least one decision we may make will not lead to some aspect of regret in the future. The truth is we all have life stories of regret in one form or another. We may have even started the New Year off making resolutions which we may end regretting not keeping (or we may possibly end up regretting the resolutions themselves). There are also those situations where we may not have made a choice at all, maybe a choice wasn’t even ours to make, but our lack of choice, our lack of decision or the opportunity to decide, may lead to intense regret. If only I had done something differently. If only I hadn’t said that. If only I had seen it coming. If only, if only, if only…

Regret can wreak havoc on our minds. It can inhibit and imprison us, crippling us with guilt and remorse. Regret can hold us back and keep us from doing what we might dare or dream to do because of what “may happen”, or because of what the past has dictated “will happen”. Regret can hold its own power over us, eating away at our conscience, and robbing us of sleep at night. Often times, we find ourselves holding it close, using it as a crutch, a justification to stay in our comfort zone and to not venture out. Regret can offer an element of comfort in our life. It can become easy to slip over us, like a second skin. It can offer a false sense of protection and a feigned veil of security. At least if I am regretting, I am doing something about a situation which I can no longer control.

While regret can creep into our heads and stay there like an unwelcome houseguest, if we choose to understand our regret and whether or not the regret really stems from anything in our control to begin with, it may also work to help us to examine ourselves and our behavior. Some choices are patterns in our lives which we repeat over and over expecting different results. Some decisions we have made may have hurt others and we may need their forgiveness to move on. Some choices were never ours to make and we need to give ourselves permission to admit that and to forgive ourselves. I may regret doing/not doing a million things, but how many of those things did I actually have control over? If I have given up on dreams, was it because I chose to or was the decision made for me? If I have lost friends or loved ones, was the loss anything which was ever in my control to begin with? If something terrible has happened to me, is it really so hard to believe that I did nothing to deserve it?

Regret may lead to making better choices in the future, helping to steer us in a better direction with our lives, possibly even breaking a pattern of behavior which we may find ourselves caught up in. Regretting our behavior or actions while being intoxicated may serve to remind us not to drink so much next Friday night. Regretting not paying our credit card bill and being declined making a purchase may remind us to be more responsible with our finances. Regret may encourage clarity of thought and aid in our decision making when we find ourselves in similar situations in the future.

How we handle regret is truly what’s most important. When those memories, those embarrassing, remorseful, I-just-want-to-forget-that-ever-happened moments creep back into our heads at the most inopportune times causing us to groan, cringe, or do whatever is necessary to try to shove the memory back into the furthest corner of our minds, how we deal with regret is what matters most. We need to learn from our mistakes and move forward making sure to keep the positive things in our lives our primary focus. If our regret isn’t about our mistakes but someone else’s actions on our lives, it may help to release the responsibility of that situation from ourselves. If we can understand that control over the situation or the decision was never in our hands, we may find peace.

We can’t let regret incapacitate us. Regret cannot cripple us. Regret should not win. If we look at life as a series of lessons, we need to keep moving forward as a willing student one step at a time. Regret does not need to be our constant companion like a shadow on a sunny day nor does it need to be our bedfellow, pinching and keeping us awake at night. If we confront regret, handle it with care, acknowledge it and then let it go, we can move towards a new day. Perhaps the regret can even turn into something positive, if we let it. We may even find peace and the strength to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us.

I’ve come up with a new statement to replace my brash, naïve, and, as it turns out, not-so-clever statement of old,

“Life is about living, with joy and with regrets. We all make mistakes; things happen to us and, sometimes, because of us. What is most important is that we learn and grow from our experiences.”

We don’t have to spend our lives marked with regret. Each experience we have had has shaped us in some way. Every regret has made us who we are right now, has lead us in the direction we were meant to take, and will make each one of us a stronger person in the end.