This is a famous line from the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. It is a phrase in Latin that when translated literally means, “And you, Brutus?” It is said in Act 3 Scene 1 of the play. At that moment in time Caesar is being assassinated. He recognizes one of his friends, Marcus Junius Brutus as one of the assassins. Struck by the fact he was betrayed by a friend he utters this famous line.
Sadly, we have all experienced betrayal by someone we considered a friend. Although it usually doesn’t result in being literally ‘stabbed in the back’, it still sucks and does not feel very good. Recently, I had the misfortune of this happening to me. There is a lady I work with whom I had fought to help her keep her job and even let her pick what she wanted to do because she likes having a routine. When there was physically difficult things to do, I did them because she mentioned it was too hard for her. I did it because I wanted to be a nice coworker, and more to the point, a nice person. This very same person went to our supervisor and sad some both unflattering and very untrue statements about me. What happens when you find yourself in that situation?
When I heard that news I was understandably not only disappointed in the young lady, but extremely upset. As good fortune would have it, I was also just about to enter the gym. That is not an actual picture of me above. The abs might look the same, but the skin tone is darker. (that too is a joke) I came in with a good deal of adrenaline due to my frustration with my coworker. I channeled that into one of the most intense and hardcore workouts I had in a long time. I also had some good conversations with it to friends and family. Margie, in her beautiful way, gave me some very encouraging words that made me fall even more in love with her. It also inspired the words that you are reading right now. I stayed at the gym for almost 2 hours and wanted to go longer, but they turned the lights off. By that time I was exhausted, but felt a lot better. I followed that up with a trip to the grocery store which usually helps lift my spirits.
The point of this post is as follows. When you are betrayed, make use of it. Especially if what is said is untrue. Take that initial anger and channel it into something useful, such as a good workout or cleaning the house. Then, follow that with something that lifts your spirits. Go for a nice walk in nature. Brew yourself a calming cup of tea. Have a great conversation with a friend. After all is said and done, make sure to be the best ‘you’ that you can be. We, unfortunately, cannot control the words and actions of others. What we do have control of is how we speak and act. If we are the best version of ourselves, it only makes those who speak ill of us look foolish. Those who know us for what we truly are will be unaffected. Those who are affected, are those who have not taken the time to get to know us. Injustice and betrayal are indeed terrible crimes, but they have their own punishment from a power higher than us.
This was actually on the end of the string of a tea bag I was enjoying before writing this. It made me stop and think. Life really is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it. This includes what meaning we assign events in our life. We lost our job. Does that mean we are a failure like our parents told us we would be because we didn’t go to college? Does it mean that the universe is pushing us in a different direction where we can better serve others and in turn be more fulfilled ourselves? The answer to both is the same – yes and no.
Are you confused so far?The reason why it can mean two entirely different things is because things mean what we decide they mean. This is why the old adage Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion is so important. What we decide things mean can be swayed a great deal by the emotional state we are in. Another reason that maintaining a sunny disposition can serve us in many more ways than just feeling good. Let us use the popular situation of having a disagreement with our spouse. Perhaps it is a big one. It may seem at the time that this person has entirely different values than we do. It may seem like they do not care or respect our values. Going on that assumption, it would seem a rather pointless endeavor to pursue this relationship further. After we give our chance to cool off and engage in some calm communication, we are likely to discover this is not the case at all. Maybe our partner misunderstood what the situation meant to us. Maybe they do have a value that appears to be in conflict with ours in this situation. Instead of saying it is hopeless, ask yourself how both of your values could be honored.
One of my favorite quotes right here. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I think Mr. Shakespeare was on to something here. Trust me when I tell you that I thought this statement was filled with more fertilizer that a farmer’s field in spring. “Easy for you to say Billy! I just lost my job and my family is depending on me. You have been dead for hundreds of years!”I figured once you have passed on you no longer have to worry about gainful employment or, more to the point, of losing said employment. While this may be true, I’ll have to get back to you on that from the great beyond, it doesn’t change the truth of the quote. In the job loss example from above there are two ways of viewing what happened and they are pretty close to the opposite. Either one could also be right.
If this is true, and unless someone can convince me differently, it most certainly is. What is the point of doing our best to view things in a positive light? Why be one of those people. You know the ones. Everything seems to be going from bad to worse for them and they act as if they are about to open their birthday presents. What do we say about those people? They have their heads in the clouds? They are wearing rose-colored glasses? It is not that they are denying that there are possibilities that things could be bad, because they can. They are focused on the fact that things could have happened for a good reason. Is that possibly true? Could it be possible that the reason we stepped in little gift our neighbor’s dog left us on the sidewalk could have been for a good reason? What if it ruined our favorite dress shoes? The ones we just bought…for a whole lot of money? How on earth could all of this be a good thing? Let me ask you this question. Is it possible, not 100% certain just possible, that the time we spent changing our pair of shoes and cursing at the neighbor’s dog despite the fact he does not speak a human language, saved us from something worse? Could it be possible that time put us a bit behind which caused us to miss the driver who went through a red light 2 miles down the road where we would have been? Is this possible? Of course it is. There are a million other reasons why it could have happened. Some good, some bad.
We are again faced with the question, “Why choose to focus on the positive reasons for a negative situation?” For one, it really pisses off our negative friends, which is always kind of fun. More importantly, it helps us maintain a healthy emotional state. Why does that matter? In our first example of a job loss, the positive explanation was the universe was pushing us to do something that would be more personally fulfilling and serve the greater good. If we were to believe this what actions would we take? We would begin to think what we are passionate about. We would consider how we could pursue that interest that may benefit us from an economic position. We could look for ways to use our passion to solve a problem or serve others, which would lead to an economic opportunity. Even if we needed to take some other employment while we thought about these things, we still would have a driven and optimistic attitude. This could help us weather continued challenges.
What if we believed that we have just grown to become the failure we were told we were going to be? What actions would be take then? We may take whatever job is first offered to us. We would not do so while looking for better opportunities such as the first example. No, we may think that is what we deserve for being a failure. We may think thoughts such as, “Why even bother looking for a job I would love? I will just fail at that too.” or “Nobody will hire a failure like me so why should I even bother applying?” If we feel that this happened for a negative reason such as the world is a cruel place, we have bad luck or some other less than inspiring thought, how motivated would we be to take action? Not very. After all, if the world is a cruel place and we always have bad luck why bother trying. Guess what happens if we take that road? If we stop taking action towards improving our situation, it is 100% certain that our situation will not improve. Then, at least we can feel that we were right about that. In fact, as long as we feel that way about our situation, we will act that way. If we continue to act that way, our situation will be that way. It is some sort of suck-filled, self-fulfilling prophecy.
I hope you can see the power in how we chose to perceive the world and our place in it. It should be apparent why deciding to focus on the positive possibilities is far more helpful at resolving a negative situation than focusing on the negative possibilities. Life is hard enough, do not work against yourself. By choosing to focus on positive possibilities, we see everything as a gift. That kind of mindset will have you feeling as if every day is a chance to open birthday presents. Oh, and if somebody accuses you of having your head in the clouds? Just tell them they should really join you because the air is so much better up there. If they say you are wearing rose-colored glasses? Ask if they want to try them on. Tell them how much better the world looks through them.
Today’s post is one of simple reassurance. If you subscribe to a blog like this, you are undoubtedly a person who is driven to learn and utilize secrets to an amazing life. It is worth noting and something we must be careful of when working to improve our lives, we must enjoy the process. This can be difficult to do during the best of times, but takes special care when we feel like we are failing or even moving backwards.
When we are trying to improve any aspect of our lives there comes a time when we face an obstacle or a set back. It can seem as if we are trying to push a giant marshmallow up a hill. Maybe we are doing our best to improve our physical fitness and we sustain and injury. After weeks of rest, going back to the gym and having to ‘start all over’ can be quite deflating. Perhaps we are working on completing our next book and accidentally hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’, wiping out weeks or more of work. (I did this once, it was followed by feeling of being nauseous) All of these moments can lead to doubt. What can doubt do? As Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” There is a lot said in that one line, and all of it is true. Doubting ourselves can lead to giving up too soon or even failing to try.
Once returning from injury to the gym, I remarked how deflating it was to have to lower the weights so far from what they were prior to injuring myself. I was told something that not only applies to the gym, but to every other task in life – “You are still further ahead than everyone who is just sitting on the couch.” Unless your job is a professional couch tester, this is quite true. Were you supposed to write 1000 words and only could come up with 750? That is better than sitting on the couch (which is where I am writing this ironically) not writing anything.
Some days you may fail all together. What about those days? There are expected too. If you are striving to be your best, that is what counts. We often do not succeed at the level we wish to. We can use it for motivation to work harder the next day. We can recall days that we crushed it more than we expected and realize it all balances out in the end. We can also realize that we are going to have days that we try and fail and even a few where we fail to try. As long as they are the exceptions and not the rule, we should not be too hard on ourselves. Just make sure to get back up and kick butt again!
This is one of my favorite quotes. Here is why, it is something that I used to be victim to quite often. As someone who takes great pride in his knowledge and always strives to learn new things, there is one thing I really dislike. The one thing that I try my best to avoid is looking foolish. I suppose on the surface that may not really be a bad thing. After all who wants to look foolish right? This is true to a point. My fear of looking foolish stemmed from doubting myself. What happened then?
Here is what the fear of looking foolish, and doubting myself did for me. Often times it kept me from trying something new. Everything we learn to do we go through a period where we are not yet skilled. Think of the job you work at right now. Recall your first day there, did you know everything you know now? Of course not. Even things like finding your way around, or knowing where the bathroom is. One cannot expect to start something new and know it all. Intellectually I knew this, yet emotionally that is what I did to myself. If what I was thinking of trying included a period of looking foolish before you got it right I would do one of two things. Either I would wait to try it until few or nobody was around, or worse yet I would skip trying it at all. Some of you may feel that same way.
So how does one face this fear and more importantly overcome it? Begin to look at things in two ways. One, think of all you will miss by not doing what you fear and two, think of all you will gain by doing it. It also wouldn’t hurt to consider other things in your life you might have overcome the new/learning period to become capable or even quite good at. One of my favorite examples is snorkeling. I love the tropics and love the ocean. I also happen to enjoy rum. So while on vacation I always saw snorkeling available. All my mind focused on was not knowing a thing about it from what equipment is good, to how to not drown while learning. That kept me from ever trying it. That is until one day when a nice young man by the name of captain Morgan whispered in my ear that I should give it a try. The first trip out took some getting used to, but by the end of that trip I learned how to dive under water with a snorkel, how best to swim and a million other things. Now when I go to the tropics about 8 hours of my day is spent in the ocean, a lot of that with a snorkel on. I could kick myself for all the fun I missed before all because I was afraid to try.
So think about your doubts, what are they keeping you from trying? You may discover a new passion, some new friends or a new skill you never knew you had. Now if you will excuse me I am going to put on my snorkel, get in the bathtub and dream of Jamaica.