goodness: /ˈɡo͝odnəs/ the quality of being morally good or virtuous.
I’ve been having conversations with my husband about our childhood and the traditions we experienced. We’ve explored how the folks in our generation have let go of some traditions and experiences because of the trauma some of us have experienced. We are a constant work in progress to be more empathetic and compassionate humans for our children. I’m not blaming our parents for anything because I’m sure they also experienced trauma and just passed along what they felt was the right thing to do at the time. However, in the midst of us all trying to unlearn to learn again, we have lost the sense of belonging and community that helped to mold us into who we are today. I’m more introverted than my husband, so there were times when I would’ve preferred to be at home than be around certain people growing up. Yet, I knew during the holidays we’d have somewhere to go. We were also always at someone’s birthday party – cousins, cousins of cousins, church friends.
When we think about our kids and what they get to experience, it’s nothing like our childhood. They’re more isolated than we were because we had so much exposure to people. Now it’d be easy to blame the pandemic, but I noticed a difference prior to 2020. Relatives seem more distant and people are opting for chosen families which isn’t always a bad thing.
One thought I had was that adults are busy for the sake of being busy. We’re chasing something, but I’m not exactly sure what that thing is. I know each generation goes through changes and there’s a shift in society. Something seems off. We seem distant even though we’re always connected through social media. For instance, I was at a wedding last summer and most of the guests at the table were on social media even though we were all seated. It was very interesting and it is interesting when I notice things in public. I’m also guilty of it. It’s like we’re losing our capacity to be socially engaged and are becoming socially inept. There could be fifty people around and no one is engaging or curious to learn about the people in their presence, but we’re interested and engaged in people we’ll most likely never meet. I wonder if we’re becoming anti-social and lacking genuine curiosity as a form of escapism or if we’re actually losing our capacity to be social beings ruled by technology.
I’m not sure what’s going on and I wish I had the answers. I will say this isn’t me condemning society and its choices to engage. I’m on social media and do see people being social in action. I can’t help but wonder if that’s just for the camera and for social media audiences. That’s my genuine curiosity. I really want to know, but before I can look at someone else, I have to look in the mirror and reflect on what it is I’m looking for. I want to know how I can get to a sense of goodness to help my family have a more optimistic outlook on life.
I have a request. If you have everything figured out and never experienced a setback or disappointments, let’s connect because you have the secret to life. However, if you’re like me, you have plans, then things happen. You have to pivot and figure things out all the time. Please tell me I’m not alone.
At this present moment in my life, I am trying to figure out a lot. Work is work, but there are things lacking and I’m wondering if I made the right choices. I’m also trying to figure out if it’s time for a change of scenery and if I need to leave my city. It’s a tough conversation I’ve had with my husband and we’ve not made any decisions because it’s complicated. My decisions will impact our children – it’s not just about me. There isn’t one right answer and there have been many nights of prayer for guidance. I’m still looking for mentors, so if you know a great one, send them my way. I can admit I haven’t been the best at goal-setting which is where I often find myself getting lost. I know there’s more to life than the monotony many of us experience. I heard a podcast discussing how we need to break our routines with adventure when we get in this place of feeling lost or stuck. I’m hopeful a few new activities will get me unstuck and on a new path.
Setbacks and Disappointments
If you’ve read any of my blog posts, then you know life has been anything but easy and blissful. I don’t discount the good times and the blessing of life in general. However, your girl gets tired. I’ve been talking to my counselor about how to deal with setbacks and disappointments in a way that won’t leave me always catastrophizing every situation. It takes practice to overcome years of negative self talk and a destructive inner critic. I do recognize that many of the events in my life that were the result of setbacks and disappointments were caused by me not believing in myself. Had I had an ounce of confidence in my younger years, I’m sure I could’ve avoided many disappointments. People pleasing always ended up in disappointment for me. I didn’t want to let others down and I didn’t have my own identity. I lived in the shadow of other people.
The setbacks I experienced were due to a lack of planning, so I won’t dwell on that. I do recognize how those experiences can create barriers to finding joy or getting back to a good mental space and reflect on good times. That’s where therapy or life coaching comes in to help you to identify and work through those barriers. Setbacks and disappointments happen, but they don’t have to be the reason why we remain stuck and unable to move forward.
What Scares Me
During a recent meeting at work, we had a warm-up activity that asked us what scares us. It was interesting to hear that various things that we said scared us. When it was my turn to share, I didn’t know how cautious or vulnerable I wanted to be. I decided to just go for it and shared that I was scared to lose myself, my determination and motivation. It scares me to lose determination and motivation because I feel that keeps me going more than anything. This world can drag you through the mud, leave you out to dry, only to drag you through the mud again to leave you in a never ending cycle of trying to fight or just give up.
In the moment of sharing, I was thinking about how I felt in the current moment at my job. There have been more lows than highs, but I have a fight in me that keeps me going. It would be easy to give up and keep my head down just to survive. I think most people just try to make it through the day and just think of a job as a paycheck. I can’t. If I can’t find some joy and happiness in a place I spend most of the week, then I either need to leave or do something about it. I’m determined not to let any person steal my joy because that’s giving my power away. I can be stubborn and I’m learning how to use my stubbornness in a productive way.
One of the most important lessons in my recent life is understanding that I’m worth more than I give myself credit for. I think about how much time I lost sacrificing self-care and self-love because I believed that giving was more important than receiving. I still believe that we should give, I just don’t believe we should give to the point where it depletes us spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially. We need balance. We need boundaries. We need to celebrate ourselves and realize we deserve good things. It can be difficult to hold those beliefs if we weren’t affirmed growing up or haven’t developed the capacity to practice self-affirmations in adulthood. Saying affirmations are a great way to build confidence and self-worth. We may have a great support system, but understand that we have to do the work. No one can make us happy. It’s up to us to find our own happiness and joy.
One thing to consider (and that’s easier said than done), is to make a goodness journal or fill a mason jar with all of the good things that have ever happened to you. These can serve as reminders that life isn’t always dismal and know there is goodness in life. Despite the news, doom scrolling on social media, or unfavorable news, we have much to look forward to even if things aren’t how we think they should be at the moment. I am with you in this. We can do it. You are worthy.
Finding and building community is something that I’ve struggled with. I love my peace but I also like spending time with interesting people. I understand the importance of getting out and meeting people. Meeting people can help with so many things – finding mentors, new friends and acquaintances, and new connections for future collaborations. I believe people can trick themselves into foregoing new relationships because of bad experiences with relationships gone wrong. I get it – it can be scary to open up and be vulnerable to form new relationships with people. We may wonder if we’ll be hurt, misled, lied to or lied on, and abandoned. There is also the possibility of the upside of building community including having people to celebrate with, people who cheer you on, and my favorite, having people to break bread with for holidays or just because.
Getting back to goodness and building community makes me think of my childhood and our dinners after church. We would have at least two services sometimes with no time to cook, so groups of people decided we should go to dinner before going back to church. Since we were at church so often, we had a built-in community that I miss every Sunday. Yes, I go to church but it’s only my household that goes out to dinner. Also, our children don’t have automatic friendships because we exist and fellowship in the same space. I feel for our children because they are missing a vital part of the community my husband and I had growing up. I often wonder what it would take to get back to a place of goodness, not perfection. There were many things about my upbringing that I wish I could’ve changed. One thing I would bring back is constantly being around cousins, friends, neighbors, and our church family.
We didn’t have to guess if events would happen, the expectation is that we would have a place to go. I would love to bring that back for my family. Slowing down to enjoy people is something I feel our society is missing. It seems we have this anxiety about being disappointed or not letting people in so we won’t get hurt. Yet, we’re missing out on our village, our support system that can get us through tough times or help us to celebrate the good times. We are not meant to live this life alone. During the shutdown in 2020, we saw how much we craved the community some of us took for granted. It’s almost like we forgot how much we missed each other and got back to the hustle and bustle of life. I do believe we can get back to community by being intentional with our time, energy, and by trusting that it’s not too late to have a supportive, loving community.
All of these factors have an impact on getting back to goodness. Goodness, not perfection. I don’t believe things will ever be perfect because that’s not how life works. It would be nice to get back to a place where we aren’t controlled by things. We can get to a place of being empathetic, loving, supportive, and thoughtful. I pray that we can have goodness from a realistic point of view. There will be opposing views, violence, and other adverse experiences because it’s life and we’re all so different with diverse experiences. Yet, we can find goodness in the small things, those seemingly insignificant moments that can make a huge impact. That’s what I hope for. I pray it’s possible. If we look within and see how we’re making an impact in our community, families, and society, I believe anything is possible.