The Legacy of Results and Consequences

By definition, a ‘result’ is a consequence, effect or outcome occurring as a conclusion of a cause. Interestingly, a ‘consequence’ is defined as a RESULT or effect of an action or condition. Although the two are essentially interchangeable, we are conditioned to associate the term “consequence” as a negative outcome following poor choices. Even in childhood, parents warn their kids of receiving a consequence if their behavior is unacceptable. Results, however, resonate more positively, though we just read that each word defines the other. Results are revered after being dedicated to a workout regimen, a healthy food plan, or any objectively positive intention we set to better our lives or our world. Results conjure the fruition of hard work, perseverance, and repetitive positive actions, regardless of waning enthusiasm. It’s a reward. Consequences land us in anything from being grounded as a teenager to grounded as an airline pilot. We screwed up, and we’re living with the “consequences”. There is little celebration around consequences, rather a mentality of, “That’s what you get,” a karmatic event on the heels of doing harm, to ourselves or others. Why take the time to dissect the significance of these ends? I was in the middle of my daily ritual, walking on the beach, when (as often happens when I don’t try to control or force thought) this realization came to mind. It can feel difficult, if not impossible, to live devoid of the impact of other’s choices, sometimes more so than our own. I reflected on this fact off and on for much of the day.  How much of my energy has been expended by permitting the results of someone else’s actions to bleed into my life? This is especially pronounced when someone harms us- directly or even indirectly. Direct harm, meaning anything from an assault of character that reduces us to one perceived poisonous drop at the tip of the funnel, to mysterious neglect by someone we have trusted for years. These reflections can be anything from a flash thought, to a long, ongoing rumination. Unchecked, it begins to plague us, making itself comfortable in our daily life. None of us escapes the human condition and out of the billions of people on this rock, it’s widely accepted that we experience only six basic emotions. They are happiness, sadness, surprise, anger, disgust and fear. That’s it. Others may expand this list to include contempt and trust. I don’t discount that extreme reactions to unsettling circumstances, internal or not, elicit feelings, but, I personally sense them as a secondary, rather than a primary sensation of my energy.  When it seems no one can understand your level of pain or grief, remember that one fact…billions of people with less than 10 emotions. While it’s not the silver bullet to ending suffering, retaining this fact certainly chips away at the, “not a part of,” and brings about a sense of unity, both to those you know and to your fellow humans, on a global scale. Side note/rabbit hole: When I took a leave of absence from writing, I spent a lot of time in self care. What I discovered was at once, immensely enlightening, scary, painful, peaceful, reassuring and left me with a self-knowledge I lacked before this delving. I am a champion at shoving negative events into my emotional trash compactor. I have lived out my life believing I had simply learned to “rise above” the people and things that didn’t serve me, or outright sought to destroy me. Turns out, you actually need to PROCESS these happenings. The avoidance of dealing with our baggage- self inflicted or not- absolutely impacts our reaction (or overreaction) to how we handle incoming conflict not yet on our radar. We habitually, predictably respond to conflict the same way, every time, without thought or contemplation. The knee-jerk reactions then reinforce that pathway in our brains and the pattern is reinforced. Think of it as water taking the path of least resistance as it courses down a river. I get dreamy at the thought of achieving that zen-like response of viewing my thoughts from the perspective of an observer, vs that of a story teller…to see these mental pictures as the fleeting, passing clouds they are. I have long held deep respect for overcomers, underdogs, and the strong who didn’t let circumstance dictate their journey, but wove that pain into an integrated (and integral) part of their path, using it as a positive. I have often used my own past as a reason to achieve, to do, to travel and expand and become more than the trauma I experienced. (I don’t use the term trauma lightly.) It’s not the article for that part of my story, so, I’ll save it for another day. For the eyes that find my words resonate with their own experience, you are not alone. I see you. I feel you. You are safer, braver and closer to peace than you realize- you know more than you believe you do. I promise. Ok, out of the rabbit hole…So, results. I experience that range of emotions mentioned earlier when I witness someone living, succumbing, to the results of a given event. Do you know someone who clings, not to a grudge, but to an achievement from a decade ago, and can’t seem to move past what they once were, unable to let go of having been at the top of their game? I do. And, it’s no better than holding on to the traumas that become a blockade to personal progress. Their previous results was the end of their endeavors. Success, in the wrong mindset, can stagnate our growth just as much as resentment. Our thoughts absolutely create, not impact, CREATE our reality. They influence our ability to communicate effectively, to resolve conflict, to express gratitude and see abundance instead scarcity. Every morning, as we open our eyes, throw back the covers and our feet hit the floor, so many things we take for granted have already occurred, in less than a minute. First, we opened our eyes, and saw our surroundings without much, if any, thought. We saw our safe dwelling, our comfortable bedding, the window with a view to the world from the shelter of our oasis. We breathed, unassisted. Our limbs functioned so we could begin our activities of daily living. We made our way to the bathroom, independently. Our kidneys and liver were hard at work while we slept, and we get to pee. The number of people for whom this is impossible is significant. These things go unnoticed, until they are threatened. Our consciousness naturally becomes overwhelmed and buried with life’s to-do lists, overtaking the time and mental space for gratitude. My self care used to include occasional meditation when I had some extra time. After living with the benefits of a daily practice, striving to remain grounded in gratitude and staying out of the stories I used to tell myself ABOUT myself, and about you, has brought about such incredible changes, I am unwilling to live without this peace. It’s a result of re-patterning my thoughts. It sucked. Until it didn’t. I fought the idea that I was confusing acceptance with denial. And, I won’t sit here and pretend to sit atop a mountain in a white robe, gazing into nothingness with a clarity that only comes to a few. No. I am here to point to the huge, rotting pile of garbage, far in the distance, that I left behind, because I had the choice to stop pulling it into each and every day. Why all this just to talk about consequences and results? I realized when talking about each, we are almost, without fail, discussing the past. Actions that have long been taken, choices that have been made, no matter the outcome…we are prone to becoming stuck in the past in the form of the snapshot of that achievement, that regret. The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror, Warriors. When we lack a sense of motivation, creativity, or experience a general sense of discontentment, the past is doubtlessly lurking. Don’t believe me? Write. Even if it’s not your thing…put pen to paper and answer the question, “What is bothering me?” “Why am I feeling somber?” “Why can’t I force myself to do a single act of self care?” You may discover the answer before you formulate the question. What’s true for me, is the old adage/law of physics, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” Change your environment. Immediately. Walk outside. Keep walking until you feel no desire to be back on your couch, but are enjoying the view, the movement, the steps you’re taking- literally and figuratively- to clear your mental fog. It sounds too simple to work. I know. If you are a walker, already, you know. If not, I implore you to start. Not enough time is no reason. Beginning with 5 minutes from your door to your turn around point, you will be amazed at the mental lift a 10 minute walk brings. With this one tiny choice, you’ve just invited new results. Your eyes rested on your living environment and interrupted the destructive replaying of the challenges you’re experiencing as a result of someone’s actions. If it sounds like I’m overpromising the power of a 10 minute ritual, do it daily for two weeks and if you aren’t impressed by the increase in your mental and physical energy, do it for another two weeks. In all seriousness, I can’t say enough about changing your life by walking, daily. If you live where you can walk barefoot, (I’m not making this up) you will reap even more benefits by simply touching the earth. If, by now, you’ve decided this is just too radical a departure from your routine, ask yourself which is more radical…knowingly living in the past, with an imprint of aging achievements and rotting regrets or devoting 10 minutes a day towards an entire mental shift. I promise you…I don’t write and advise without first having tested my own recommendations. At length. I walk two miles daily, sometimes twice a day, and I have MORE time and spend it more efficiently than before I ever began that first 10 minute trek outside my back door. The biggest perk? I am steadily moving away from crap that would only serve as barricades to future results of not releasing what’s been. And, what’s been almost always involves the results of actions others have taken, that I’ve allowed to impact me. Actions over which I have no control, and when I’m really honest with myself about it, have no business pondering. It’s none of my business how someone views me. It’s not even my concern if people talk about me behind my back. That’s right. When we feel and see progress in our own life, however slow…when we coax a steady stream of positive outcomes by excavating the will to invest 10 minutes more today to results that better serve us, than we did yesterday, the noise quietens. The thoughts aren’t racing. The mental movie reel halts. And, we experience the beginning of peace…peace that is vital in rerouting those trenches so that the path of least resistance doesn’t keep us in a futile dance with last year’s trophies or tragedies. We conquer by learning from our mistakes, as much as learning not to live there. When you set an intention to rewire your life for new results, expect your crowd to change. In fact, it’s a pretty sure sign you’re doing something right. Not everyone has our best interest at heart. The friend that has been a gem in a dark time may be comfortable with your discomfort. Some people, sadly, are only capable of being needed, in a codependent way. It’s a way for some to feel superior…the sense that they are being sought out as having answers we seek. Once we reach a state of health, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, they develop a high level of anxiety and even resentment over our lack of “needing” them in our now stable life. That’s ok. It’s better than ok. You served them, they served you, and the mutual exchange was always going to end at this turning point. The beauty of this departure is the arrival of those who now belong in your developing results.  We cannot create beautiful outcomes by staring at undesirable yesterdays. Results aren’t payoffs and consequences aren’t paybacks. Being stuck in this cycle of the past is both toxic and draining. Challenge yourself to walk away from the dusty trophy case and the tattered black list. You deserve better. Your life will weed itself of unhealthy people, but be prepared…we quietly observe those who break tired routines in exchange for new results. The consequence? The magnetizing effect of others who can’t put their finger on it, but want something you have. I’m rooting for you. For all of us. Time for my walk…Peace, Warriors.

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