I almost lost my pop a few weeks ago… to an acute illness that was literally draining the life out of him. He would have died if I hadn’t jumped on a plane and taken him to the emergency room. For those of you who know a little about me, you know my pop and I have a pretty special bond- one that we’ve worked nonstop on for the past 15 years. And to be honest, I am still shaken by the fact that I came so very close to losing that gift.
I gotta say, the hell with the stress assessments that rank death of a loved one as the #1 stressor with the greatest impact on our psyche and wellbeing- I think ALMOST losing someone you love is just as stressful, if not more. I’m still a wreck from the last two weeks.
So, I flew from my sister’s in NY to FL to face not just a devastating health situation but to face off with a man whose fear, distrust and abhorrence of doctors was a more dangerous and unyielding enemy. With all my strength and heart I literally begged him to let me take him to the hospital. I thank God that I was able to convince him.
I’m a rather private person, rarely revealing to others beyond my immediate circle about the drama and trauma that shows up in my own world. But I’m realizing that sometimes these experiences are actually learning lessons for myself and opportunities to minister to others. And this curveball that literally has taken the breath right out of my lungs, is a story worth sharing because it could save the life of someone you love or perhaps even your own.
The details about my pop are not really important to share, but what IS is the take away. So, no this message isn’t one to tell you to tell your parents you love them and appreciate them because you never know when it’ll be too late. Because I assume that’s just a given- or if you’re a man who is working on becoming a better man- better version of yourself, you’re applying yourself towards that goal.
Having allowed a few weeks to pass for both Pop and me to recover- the conversations he and I have had have created another story and understanding. The underconversation of our words is one where he realizes that the critical health issue was not really THE ISSUE- but something that has had a longer lifeline was. It’s one of the greatest challenges many of us face… and too many men at that. PRIDE.
I’ve spoken and written about this topic plenty of times because it’s the headliner deadly sin – the most despised personality flaw in the Bible and, whether we’re willing to admit to it or not, pride is a vice and addiction to far too many and a thorn in the collective side of humanity. Pride is our greatest bent. In a word, pride is a bitch. And I doubt many of us really catch ourselves every time we let pride weasel in, in situations wherein our identity, code and opinions are challenged. So, I thought I’d point out key times when you might check yourself to avoid potentially horrible outcomes… and the first is:
- When pride is mistaken for COURAGE.
Being brave is a blessing and a curse we all bear… it serves as a magical tonic in times to drive us through stressful times (the bad and the good), but it definitely doesn’t provide all the armor –let alone answers- you need on the roller coaster of life. And as for men- courage is too often displaced by the ego- in all its ugliness of vanity, self-adulation and overconfidence. Asking for help is like taking a sword to the chest- or a knee to the nuts for that matter- it hurts like hell. After all, you’re a man. Why the heck would you go crying to someone else when the sh*t hits the fan… when something devastating hits your emotions or your heart feels like it’s being strangled by an octopus… or even just when you’re a wreck about making some random decision. Pride is that dangerous level of ego that surpasses courage- wherein bearing down to handle pain, strife or fear is exactly what you need to do to still be a man, to feel like a man, to prove you’re a man. Unfortunately, though, too many men assume wrong when it comes to the people who surround them and care about them… I’m talking about your buddies, family, sweetheart, doctor, coworkers, business partner, you name it… They all already know and respect who you are as a man. And your choice to be audacious to fight certain battles as a solo soldier- if not ending outright poorly- might in-turn ripple tension, shake trust and leave a caustic mark.
- When it’s mistaken for STRENGTH & SELF-RELIANCE.
So often men think that assigning yourselves to figuring out issues or a situation alone is not only the best, immediate answer- it’s the one that allows you to keep wearing your self-ordained Superman cape of strength. Even if your stomach is in your throat and you’re scared shitless that you might be facing something seriously wrong is some situation, PRIDE tells you to buck up and handle it on your own. Sure, many –a-time you’ve gotten through something by the skin of your teeth, and you’ve stood on your soapbox and bragged to your buddies afterward- perhaps even embellishing your story for amusement’s sake, but it doesn’t always and will not always turn out this way. The day will come when the satisfaction of taking credit for saving your own ass- or life, for that matter- will be trumped by circumstances beyond and above all the power you think you’ve got. And the results may be tragic.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- When it’s mistaken for… PROTECTION.
Gents, I know you choose not to share or show your fears, problems and weaknesses, thinking that you’re holding them at a distance from the ones you love… for their sake and safety. So they don’t have to deal with upset from bad news or some situation… that you’re sure you’ve got enough courage, strength and knowledge to handle on your own. Deep beneath that though we both know you’re also trying to shield yourself from having to see and deal with someone else’s reactions, feelings and feedback. So… in the end you’re ironically perpetuating the cycle of withholding info that really needs to be shared… for the betterment of you and those you care about and who care about you.
- When it’s mistaken for KNOWLEDGE.
Ok, I get it. For a man who has walked this earth, living in his own skin for decades, it sounds safe to assume that he’s the expert of his own body. So when something feels funny in your knee, you knows it’s from pushing it at the gym or working outside. Like a familiar sound your car makes- you know what’s probably causing it. And further on, you’ve gained experiences that net invaluable reference points and examples to ensure your expectations and subsequent decisions. But when you DON’T know WHY or HOW something is happening, and you can’t pull up a file from your brain to explain things, let alone give you a sense of possible solution and thus relief… that’s when PRIDE rears its ugly head again. Arrogance, conceit and self-importance offer but a lame answer – and convince you that no one else knows you or the situation better that YOU. You are the expert because –well, you’ve gotten this far in life, right?!
So here are some takeaway prompts for you to summarize these points and not let pride get the best of you:
When pride is mistaken for COURAGE… Ask yourself: Am I compartmentalizing the situation and assuming that the very best results will come from me going it alone? Instead start believing in yourself as a brave, bright man who doesn’t need to prove he can take a bullet- give others some credit, choose to practice humility and share your appreciation of others when you ask for help.
When pride is mistaken for STRENGTH & SELF-RELIANCE… Ask yourself: Am I compartmentalizing the situation and assuming that the very best results will come from me going it alone? Know that you are growing in wisdom when you accept circumstances and current realities with the truth that they indeed are bigger than you.
When pride is mistaken for PROTECTION… Ask yourself: who really benefits from me keeping important information from my own inner circle? If it can hurt me in the end- it will certainly hut them. So, step out and choose to be more open, communicative, authentic and vulnerable.
When pride is mistaken for KNOWLEDGE… Ask yourself: Am I the most experienced and knowledgeable person to handle this? Learn to accept yourself as a body-mind-and spirit that may indeed have limitations and is surrounded by so many other resources and people to reinforce your own gift or, in many cases, save your ass?
Pride stands in the way of you keeping all of the things for which you are grateful. I gave my pop a notepad and pen and asked him to practice his writing, to show him how he’d progressed and how much his shakiness has subsided. I told him to write down the top 5 things for which he was most grateful.
- Family and relatives
- Friends- especially the long-term ones
- Freedom to do the things he find joy in
- His health to be able to do all his activities
Understanding just how pride works against you is a relevation of your life, gents. Understanding how your pride is the wedge between those who love you is even greater. Ultimately, choosing to shift your paradigm in the face of the beckoning of pride is the choice that makes you a better man- a man who God fills with all the means to demonstrate true courage and strength, wisdom and protection.
I almost lost my pop to pride. Hopefully this message sticks with you.
Never Stop EVOLVING. – KD
©2016 Kimberlie Dykeman. Sponsored by Kimberlie Dykeman Enterprises Executive Performance Coaching, Retreats & Wingman Support for Gentlemen.