Kimberlie Dykeman talks about six things that keep you weighed down, and why a good shedding helps more than yourself.
Are you living cage-free? Sounds like a silly question, right? But think about it. After all, we are all divinely blessed with sovereignty over our choices. And yet so very many of us invest our time, energy, efforts and emotions in obsolete, inconsequential “things” and unknowingly impound and chain ourselves to their immovable, valueless positions.
As men grow into leadership positions, their pockets are filled with more responsibility, more visibility, more accountability and more power. The same stress that drives men to be high achievers, leaders and influencers is the very same that can and does bring them to their knees. The weight often becomes burdensome and the restrictions erode integrity, erupt physical and mental health, and often derail personal and professional relationships. The crusade of evolving into a “better man” asks for constant mindfulness and honest self-assessments—so if you’re feeling a little restricted, let the digging begin.
Here are 6 heavy chains that may be keeping you caged-in.
When pride is your shadow, your steps are followed by a funk that linger. You get used the smell and it becomes tough to recognize when your ego is running your life, ruining your reputation, alienating folks from your space. We all know your coworkers and buddies aren’t quick to call you out on your chest-thumping … because it’s pretty boisterous to knock the ego of one of your own. Net-net: as delicate as your ego may be—and in constant need of applause—remember the humble man is always remembered and lauded for his character; his achievements take second fiddle.
Q: If you are not free of PRIDE, have you lost your sense of humility?
Both arguments and full-blown battles are the result one basic action gone terribly wrong: communication. And I don’t just mean TALKING or NOT TALKING … I mean the manifestation of aerobic efforts and in all formats—thinking, speaking, asking, listening, responding, gesturing, body language, voice levels, inflections, texting, emailing, reading, writing. Your investment in any kind of exchange is rooted in your world assessment of a cornucopia of considerations—from psychological, physical and sociological to political, educational and financial. Your thoughts breed words that breed actions based on your perspective, assumptions, fears, ignorance and agenda … just like your target’s. Net-net: Appreciate the need for space, pace, permission and patience if you want communication without confrontation.
Q: If you are not free of conflict, have you lost your ability to properly communicate?
The great distorter of the mind, worry is not just a pastime of moms and helicopter parents—and for a man the concern of molehills morphing into mountains is just part of the mind game. The other part is assuming his audience will brand him a warrior with weak knees, forecasting worst-case-scenarios. At the core is an ego that refuses to relent to trust- and that make any person, thing or situation look precarious or problematic. Net-net: Anxiety can be trumped time and time again with your investment of belief in yourself, in others, in the momentum of change, or in God.
Q: If you are not free of worry, have you lost your faith?
Love is the great creator … of connections, of healing, of joy, of creativity, of adventure, of enthusiasm … you name it. It is as strong or weak as you allow it to grow and takes vulnerability of the soul to be released and multiply. Alas, its greatest antagonist is the pervasive power of fear, which sprouts countless other reactions. In recognizing the terror of feelings like instability or rejection or failure, men tend to strap on another layer of armor and lead with a shield. Too often the expanding and expressive experience of feeling or showing love is deflected- and both sides lose out on creation. Net-net: Cut short the life of fear in your thoughts and the size of your heart just might grow past Grinch-size.
Q: If you are not free of fear, have you lost your ability to love?
There’s not a man in this earth that can’t admit to feelings of regret, guilt or shame for having done or NOT done something. To mess up, misstep or be misguided is part of learning; but if you’re making a conscious effort to outweigh crappy decisions and costly instant gratification with actions that ripple positive results, then let the past go, mister. Replaying all the woulda, should, coulda’s that invade your sights set on the future may end up limiting just how far you think you deserve to go. Net-net: It takes hustle to stay the path of your own constitution, but just like anyone you admire, respect or love … remember that you’re human too.
Q: If you are not free of regret, have you lost your faith in the future?
They say, “To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by a bee.” Somebody did you wrong and you’re ticked and keeping score. To err may be human, but this one’s inexcusable and your inner Alpha fires up guns of revenge. In one fell swoop, spite invades your body and mind with fury, resentment and ego and an unyielding agenda for self-preservation. Ironically your choice to neither forgive nor forget conveniently blurs out all the times the proverbial shoe was on the other foot. A grudge is upsettingly divisive for a man and just as he may hold on to one for years, it will erase years from his very lifeline. Net-net: When you aim to crucify another for wrongdoing, ironically, the bigger wrong is done by you. Wipe the scoreboard and offer absolution to save both face and friendship.
Q: If you are not free of a grudge, have you lost your ability to forgive?
A “yes” to any of these doesn’t forever fence you in. If anything, a confession of self-containment might just smack you upside the head and prompt you to fly the coop to pursue your own “survival of the fittest” plan. But a facejam of truth doesn’t always move intention into action. Sometimes you need to have more of a WHY … so here it is:
Think about how your own chains affect those you care about.
When you’ve lost your aligned values or loving faith, revered discipline or truthful communication, the negative effects ripple in a thousand directions. Your sweetheart, kids, siblings and pals are affected; as are your peers, employees, church, and community. In answering these key questions about your own need for emancipation, the impact on those you care about may become the greater force to your decision to break these chains.
Living cage-free takes honest self-assessment and addressing of root problems … something that every man can always keep learning from—and if you’re a leader, all the more to lead by example. The first step is choosing to change both for the benefit of yourself and your own mini-society. And when you kick it in gear and begin to shed, you’ll immediately notice how much “lighter” living can feel, for more than just you. So start busting through the barricades and embrace the vitality and relief that may go on to inspire another’s proclamation for freedom.