When I look back at my life from age 17 until my thirties and midforties, I am astounded at how far I’ve come. During much of that time, I was virtually alone, depressed, anxious and distrustful.
I wrote a poem in my early thirties summed up my feelings that were at the core of my miserableness. No one cares for anyone/Anyone feels the same/Commitment is such a Dubious Deed/It drives us all insane.
Where did this gloom come from?
I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional – and unloving -- family. My dad was stern and disapproving father. He answered any questions I asked with a tone that said “You idiot.”
My mother was volatile and sharp tongued. She would lash out at me and my brothers with little provocation, spewing hatred. My older brother who bore the brunt of their fury, took his angst out on me, relentlessly tormenting and criticizing me.
I felt alone without hope. What emerged was a deep distrust of other people. My reasoning was simple, incontrovertible: if my own family didn’t love and care for me, how could anyone else? What is more, they were the model of others.
As a young boy, I withdrew from the world. As I grew older, I played it cool, was distant, and disapproving. Love was elusive to me. People easily turned me off. I had no real friends at all. Basically, I thought why bother, people are inherently rotten.
Over time, and thankfully, my views changed. Loving girlfriends helped nudge me by their example out of my dead-end views. Observation of others also caused me to begin to doubt my views. Acts of kindness by other others chipped away at my rock solid and dismal convictions I held about other people.
Over the years, I began to realize that people are inherently good – kind and friendly. I could see it. I had been wrong a good part of my life.
As my outlook changed, I began to change. A new me emerged.
Today, as a result of this revolution of thought, I find that people from all walks of life treat me well – extremely well. I’ve dropped my guard. I’ve lost my wariness. I am overwhelmed with kindness toward – and love – for others.
Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts you hold to be true can be dead wrong – dangerously wrong. Convictions about people can be so inaccurate that they can seriously misguide you, even derail your life, keeping you from reaching your full potential and living a truly joyful life.
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.