Poignant Lessons My Father Left Behind
Every time Father’s Day comes around I find myself surprised all over again that my father is no longer on the planet because in so many ways he is with me every day. There was a time when Father’s Day was hard for me because his passing was just days after. Some years it even falls on the same day.
Whether your experience with your father was positive or negative (honestly nothing is all positive or negative, is it?), he’s had an impact on your life. Without his initial participation, there’s no other way you would have made it into the world. Beyond that, he may have had a direct or indirect impact but it’s still there nonetheless.
As I contemplated the poignant lessons I learned from my dad and some of the ways they manifested in my life – as well as his – it was easy to see the positive side and upon further exploration, I could also see the “shadow” side of these wonderful qualities. Being careful not to place judgment, these are simply two aspects of something.
You see, everything in life has a light side and a dark side. Even the seemingly good qualities we possess can be overdone to our own detriment. As they say “there can be too much of a “good” thing.” Equally, apparent “bad” things also hold positive aspects in some way when you look at them from another perspective.
In order to have a full understanding of someone – and ourselves – it’s important to be able to see both sides of certain aspects of them (and us). Following are the biggest lessons I learned from my Father from both the light and the shadow.
Lesson #1 – Let kindness lead.
My dad never had a bad word to say about anyone. Even those that had done some very bad things. It’s the old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.” My dad learned that lesson very well.
The trouble was that instead of getting out the hurt, the outrage and the anger. He internalized it all instead. I never saw him get angry. Not even once. Not even when he was dying.
Being “nice” at any cost is too high a price to pay. Your health and well-being is directly connected to your emotional authenticity. Being honest with yourself, feeling what you feel and finding healthy ways to express what’s true for you is crucial. Your life literally depends on it!
Lesson #2 – Do what’s right; even when it’s hard.
Like most of us, my dad went through some $hi! in his life. One of the most amazing things about him is that he truly always took the high road. He was the one to stick around to pick up the pieces, take responsibility and put things back together when they fell apart. He did what was “right” – always.
The thing is that as much as we might not think so, “right” is subjective. And if doing the “right” thing in the eyes of someone else keeps you from what is “right” for you then is it really “right?”
Each of us has to come to the delicate balance of internal alignment and external expectation. Anytime doing what is “right” externally creates a misalignment for you internally you must consider other ways to create positive outcomes.
Being true to yourself and living in alignment with your truth is always the right thing!
Lesson #3 – Be unattached and unemotional.
My dad never had a lot of expectations and he was “easy to please” because according to him he really didn’t have a lot of preferences. The old “don’t dream and you won’t be disappointed” comes to mind for me. If you feel you are destined to be disappointed this might seem like a better option I suppose.
This one makes for a very easy going even-keeled kind of guy. But just like he never got angry, he never got excited either. The thing about not getting angry or getting excited is that your entire emotional spectrum is limited.
We can only go as high as we can go low. So the more depths you can fully experience and feel emotionally the more heights you can experience as well. As they say “how can you know joy if you’ve never known pain.”
It’s okay to connect to your desires and feel your feelings deeply. In fact, if you don’t, you aren’t really living!
Lesson #4 – Hold people accountable.
Of course, it is valid that people should be held responsible for their actions. But being the righteous one that never forgets doesn’t do anyone any favors, especially you.
There comes a point when it is time to let go and allow whatever happened to be water under the bridge. Your past becomes your present (and your future) until you can let it go and leave it behind.
Remember that forgiveness isn’t about letting someone else off the hook for what they did. It’s about freeing yourself by not allowing whatever they did to continue to poison your life.
Release others so you can be free. This is a key truth about enlightenment.
I loved my father dearly. I learned many wonderful things from him. Just because he is no longer on this earth does not mean that I will deify him. He was just a man. I love him as much for his faults and failings as I do for his wonderful attributes. And in the end, isn’t that what True Love really is? I honor my father, and yours; the dark and the light, and all beautiful aspects in between.
Now, I invite you to contemplate any ways of being that you have identified with as the “way you are.” These are likely things you are proud of about yourself. As you ought to be! And, I invite you to take a peek behind the curtain into the shadow to reveal any ways that this habit of being may not be serving you.
Furthermore, I invite you to realize that many of these traits aren’t really you at all. They are not actually who you are. They are simply who you’ve learned how to be. As we move through our lives we pick up personality traits along the way. Among other things, these can be based on training (someone else taught you these things) or they can be reactionary (something happened and the way you coped with it was to take on a certain behavior or trait). Neither is the real you. And none of these is your Soul.
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