I had a rather unusual Friday night. It was unusual because I was home all by myself. I had worked from home and my wife had taken the kids to an early evening “play date” after picking my oldest up from preschool.
After enjoying a lovely solo dinner out, I came home and started getting the house in order for the arrival of my family and well, to simply just “put it in order”.
I began to think how unfair life is.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I was feeling bad about it or sorry for myself for any reason, I was just pondering the shear truth in that. Now, to create a bit of context, I had just recently immersed myself in some of the teachings of Jordan Peterson and so I had a number of things getting “stirred up” inside me.
However, what sparked this thought of “life is unfair” was something that my wife sometimes jokes with me about and that is this – I really can’t stand the anti-hero. Sounds trivial. You see, my wife and I generally have different tastes when it comes to entertainment (at least TV shows). We did, a few years ago however, watch Breaking Bad together which is a pretty phenomenal show but I got so worked up watching the progression of Walter White. I really disliked him immensely. It drove me bonkers. What I’ve come to realize about his character and others like him (whom I equally detest) is the unfairness of it all! It’s not supposed to work out like that! The bad guy isn’t supposed to come out on top while the underdog becomes an even more UNDER underdog!!!
So, this realization that I had hit home as to why I so strongly dislike these characters – it’s because I want life to be fair dammit! It should be fair. (Oh, that lovely should word). You’ve got to watch out for that one.
Moving on to my few hours of Friday night alone time, I began to think of why I had such a strong attachment to fairness. This is what I found (and what opened up me up to the next chapter of this story): If life is fair it’s more SAFE. Or, at least that’s what the mental construct I built feels like. Here was the true realization…life is not always fair, and that can be a VERY scary thing for me (especially, after having children). Because if life is fair, then good people win and are okay and bad people lose and get what they deserve. IT’S LAUGHABLE! I’m almost too ashamed to even type those words but recognizing my naïve proclivity to this mindsight is so engrained in me that even when I know how ridiculous that is, there’s a part of me that hopes there’s a small chance it could be true.
Here’s where this evolved into me recognizing a pattern within me that has existed for as long as I can remember and it hit me like a smack in the face – I’m still so often running from negative emotions! Even though I absolutely know that isn’t the way to approach them. I know that either represses, stifles, squashes or perpetuates the negative emotion! Here’s where I got to practice what I know to be true.
As it’s starting to get later and I’m busying myself getting the house in order (cleaning the kitchen, folding clothes etc) I notice the urge to text my wife to see when she’ll be home (which really is just a mask for me to feel that when she texts me back to tell me “the when”, I’ll be “okay” – I’ll know my family is not in harm’s way).
I realized two things there – 1) how long and how often I’ve done that in so many different ways in most of my important relationships, and that, 2) when I do that in order to push away or avoid the negative feeling of “not-knowing whether or not they’re okay” only assigns value to positive emotions and de-values “negative” or rather, uncomfortable feelings.
I don’t want to live like that. I want to live in a way that honors and really feels all of my feelings.
So I sat there and felt how uncomfortable it was to not text my wife to “verify” they were okay. Seems trivial but it was actually pretty hard. I noticed a hotness come over me. I had a hat on and had to take it off because I was generated quite a bit of heat up there because of these emotions. What I didn’t do was judge myself or question why my mind had gone to the “what if” place to begin with. Just sat in it and recognized it. As the manifestation of the uncomfortableness in my body dissipated and I felt a calm wash over me I realized I had done it. I actually fully let the emotion pass through me uninhibited and unencumbered. It felt true and it felt “fair” to give it the space and presence to do what it was meant to do.