Many motivational speakers talk about having had a bad day. Most go on to share how they lost it all, or how life crushed them down below the ground level. Or left them homeless and destitute. But…
The Phoenix will always rise back up.
Never mind that quite a few stories we hear are fabricated. But not all of them.
Let’s talk about truth though. True stories. Your story. My story.
“You had a bad day.”
Pain is a common topic for many people. I’m not talking about physical, injury-based or sickness-based pain. I’m talking about victim-based pain. “You hurt me,” kind of pain. “You did me wrong,” kind of pain.
The Internet has increasingly become a place where people enjoy airing out all their dirty laundry and pining about how much trauma they’ve experienced. For those inclined to see themselves as victims, the Internet is boomtown! A thriving place to enjoy feeling sorry for oneself. And for blaming others for one’s lot in life.
In spite of Tik Tok influencers who want to blast the boomers (my generation) for failing to understand things like work ethic, or why we have no clue about life in the world today, or a host of other complaints which every younger generation makes about the older generation (read your history and you’ll find many of those hippies who attended Woodstock went on to become quite successful on Wall Street and other places associated with financial success). Every generation thinks it’s the smartest one to ever come along until they get old and realize how wrong they were. 😉
I don’t care about where anybody is on the timeline of life because there’s nothing we can do about it. I didn’t have a say in being a baby boomer. I just was. My kids had no say in being Gen X or Millennial. By the way, if you’re as confused as I am about these labels I found this chart to be helpful.
Until I saw that chart I didn’t know there were 2 distinct groups of Boomers. It’s such a big group I suppose they figured it deserved to be split up. Generation Jones Boomers are those, like me, who were too young to be drafted into military service because of the war in Viet Nam. Our parents were mostly those Post War folks, people whose dad served in World War II.
Times Are Always Changing
And with it, language. Words like trauma.
For my generation trauma, suffering and pain denote something very different than they do for a Gen Z person. Being slighted by somebody, snubbed or even ridiculed isn’t any of those things for me, but they’re common among Gen Z. If you were write a mean, hateful review of this podcast for Apple Podcasts I would not think much of it. I certainly wouldn’t be traumatized by it. It would likely cause me no discomfort. I might be puzzled by it, but my viewpoint would have a lot more to do with the author of the review than me. I’d likely wonder what’s happening on somebody’s life that might compel them to use such a platform to air their grievance. And it’d be likely that the person to write such a review would have never reached out to me because that’s not how these things tend to go.
But take that same scenario and apply it to a podcaster half my age and it could devastate them. Might even cause them to quit podcasting. A single hateful review.
A complete stranger wielding that kind of power seems strangely weird to me, but I see it constantly. Podcasters (and anybody else doing something) consider themselves traumatized by some unjust critic. The trauma is only possible because we give others permission. We say YES to whatever it is we think is happening. Or we reject it and move on with our life, which is what I choose to do.
A person has a bad day. They take it out on me. And that affects me how? It doesn’t if I don’t let it. It can cause me to have a day, too – IF I permit. IF I decide I’m going to be negatively impacted by some ninnie who has no clue about me, or my life, or what’s going on with me – some stranger who happens to click PLAY on my podcast – then that’s on me, not them. By the way, no such thing has happened so I’m only speaking fictitiously because I’m so well-loved nobody would dare be ugly about me. Certainly not in public. 😀
Did my generation grow up learning to care less what others thought? Maybe.
Did my generation grow up not clamoring for approval? Likely.
Did my generation grow up working for tyrants and “the man?” Absolutely, but there were exceptions (even though they may have been few)
Did my generation learn work ethic worked and benefited our life? Of course.
Did my generation get it all right? Nope.
Here’s the difference. Because Boomers are older, we’ve endured more bad days. We’ve had to figure more out because we lived longer. Experience matters.
It also means we’ve experienced more mistakes. Found more things that didn’t work. And hopefully, we’ve figured out a few things that do work.
True value is from the self-reflection on those experiences though. The passing of time isn’t where the magic is found. It helps and it’s necessary, but it’s only valuable if we learn from it. Learning demands self-reflection and sober thinking about what we’ve experienced.
Perspective matters when it’s based on accumulated wisdom. Accumulated wisdom only happens when we learn, grow and improve.
Parents get it. As we’re teaching our kids certain things that we learned long ago, it’s disconcerting whenever they behave as though they’ve already figured it out when we see them clearly struggling to learn it. But with youth comes a degree of insecurity manifested as arrogance.
Well, permit some clarification. Some of us who are older parents get it. 😉
Just this week I was listening to a couple of podcasts whose hosts were between 30 and 45. One told the story of being down on the beach and his 4-year-old daughter refused to come in. The family had been at the beach all day and it was time to retreat back to where they were staying. The little girl didn’t want to leave and began to pitch a wild-eyed fit. Dad picked her up and she started screaming, “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me.” Followed by, “I hate you, I hate you.” He had to carry her about 150 yards he said with her yelling those things the entire time. During the podcast he’s lamenting, “There’s just nothing you can do.”
They get to their room and he’s trying to clean the sand off of her in the shower, but she’s continuing her rebellion. This continues, according to him, for 15 minutes while inside the bathroom. Again, he repeats, “There’s just nothing you can do. You’re stuck.”
I’m listening to this thinking, “Oh, yeah. There’s plenty you can do.” In fact, there’s so much you should do as a parent.
The other podcast a mom is talking about her daughter going ice skating for the first time. The daughter has never skated and doesn’t know how, but she’s screaming at her mom to let her go. Like the other little girl, she’s screaming how the mom is hurting her even though mom is simply attempting to hold up so she can stay on her feet. “What do you do?” asks the mom on the podcast. Her co-host, another mom, says there’s just nothing you can do. “You don’t want people to think you’re abusing your child.”
And I’m thinking, “…but you are abusing your child by not correcting them and disciplining them.” Spanking is political suicide because people stopped listening to God. We think leaving children to themselves is wise, but God sees it as a source of shame for parents. Society used to see it that way, too. But we outgrew God and His wisdom.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” – Proverbs 29:15
So many parents have a bad day because they’re unwilling to correct and serve their children. Now both parent and child are having a bad day. That bad day grows into a bad month, a bad year and may result in a bad life. All because the child deserved to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. What’s acceptable and what isn’t. Good or great behavior versus bad or poor behavior.
Political correctness has created so many bad days for so many people. And thankfully, the tide is now beginning – just beginning – to turn.
I avoided so many bad days because my parents and other adults in my life delivered a bad moment to me. A moment when I was spanked. A moment when I was scolded. A moment when I was warned – not threatened – that if I didn’t behave differently, then I’d suffer a consequence. Thankfully, I grew up in an era when parents warned. The difference between a warning and threat is a warning will most certainly have consequences if it’s not followed. A threat is empty. There’s much less certainty that there will be a consequence.
Bad Days Are Compounded When There Is No Correction
I was a pre-schooler in a small Oklahoma town where my dad had a service station and garage on Main Street. I enjoyed the smell of new tires, oil and all the other odors associated with that business. Mostly, I enjoyed the pinball machine that was inside the showroom area. I loved hanging around the place.
A preacher was coming to town, due to arrive at the bus station some blocks away. My dad was to pick him up.
This preacher was a fixture in my life. I loved hearing him preach and tell stories sitting in our home. But I was scared to death of him because he was an old man who didn’t suffer foolishness. Any kid who was unafraid of him was an idiot. If he scolded you, you snapped to.
I’d been lying. My mother’s attempts to correct this bad behavior had evidently fallen short. Knowing this preacher was mere moments away, and knowing how fearful I was of him, my mother warned me what would happen. Scared, I ran into the men’s room of my dad’s garage and locked the door refusing to come out. No screaming. No pitching a fit. Just fear knowing that I now had to face the consequences of my lying.
“When Lynwood comes, I’m gonna tell him what you’ve been doing (lying),” she warned.
My dad went to pick up Lynwood, the old preacher I loved, but feared. Within minutes a loud knock hit the bathroom door. “Randy, it’s Lynwood, come out here right now!”
That’s all I remember. I must have blacked out. 😀
That was over 60 years ago. The lesson remains with me even though Lynwood has been dead for a number of years now. What if that wouldn’t have happened? What if my life experience didn’t include that? Would I be better because the adults in my life just endured my foolishness? I would not be a better human if the adults in my life – those who claimed to love me – would have simply said, “Well, there’s just nothing we can do about his lying.” But that’s what’s been happening for over 30 years now and it’s largely why so many more people are having bad days that turn into so much more!
Joining The “Feel Sorry For Me” Tribe
It’s an enormous tribe. Growing more by the day.
People enjoy being part of something. Acceptance is a big deal. It’s bigger when you’re younger. I know. Because I was once young, and now I’m old.
Today, I don’t much care what anybody thinks unless what they think is incorrect. I have zero respect for false accusers and I’ve had a few. Pompous, arrogant, judgment-filled, self-righteous idiots with a dishonest agenda. They exist. Worldwide.
But otherwise, I’m not working to impress anybody or be accepted by anybody or be popular among anybody. Interview anybody over the age of 60 and you’ll find fewer people who care about those things than when you interview anybody under the age of 30. This is where the woke culture has had a devastating impact. It has motivated an increasing number of people to become part of the tribe. Gallup proved the point with LGBT identification in U.S.
Now you could – and I think you’d be right – focus on the decline of morality. You could (again, you’d be right) focus on the decline in respect for God’s authority and design. All of that aside, there’s a reason it’s been promoted as “gay pride.” Young people want to be accepted. They want to be part of the approved tribe. Certainly a tribe with pride. Additionally, the push to transition the gender of little kids, while shocking, it’s fitting of the agenda. I wasn’t shocked by Gallup’s results based on generations. Nor is it shocking that DEI (diversity, equality and inclusion) is mandated in every arena – work, school, government and religious organizations. As a Christian, here’s my response. Read Romans chapter 1 or listen to today’s woke culture. I trust God and His Word. The Creator of the world holds more power and authority than anything or anybody.
From all the current sexual/gender tribes to the more innocuous “woe is me” tribes, it’s still a powerful cultural pull, especially for younger people. Acceptance and attention are powerful magnets for us. When I was growing up there were always those kids in class who disrupted school. Almost daily. The adults properly taught me that many of those kids wanted or needed attention. There was probably something to that. People chase attention in a variety of ways, some good and some bad.
Before my school experience I saw it in sickness. I noticed people who enjoyed the attention ill health got them. I was just a little kid who would later learn some of these people were sick all the time. They enjoyed having people ask, “How are you feeling today?” Without the illness, people might not ask, making them the center of attention. Then who would they be?
I’ve seen it trickle down in the past 20 years to relishing being a victim. Culture has contributed as society has shifted away from personal responsibility and accountability. It’s terrific. Nothing is my fault. I’m to blame for nothing. The Universe imposes on me. Government tells me what’s right and wrong. God disappears. My obligations to God disappear. Acceptance is my virtue. Being part of the tribe – Tribe Tolerance – is how I’m going to live because it’s the way forward. Everything else is mean, hateful and intolerant.
It’s A Lie, But What We Believe Can Become A True Delusion
Enter the word “trauma.” You hear it daily if you’re paying attention. Every injustice and unkind word is traumatic. Trauma that has so damaged me I’m now struggling and it’s urgent you – all of you – know what I’ve endured.
“It’s not my fault” should be replaced with “Now what am I going to do.”
What if we decide to forego the blame game and embrace the responsibility we have for our own life? How might that work out?
Well, it’d be empowered making us accountable for our behavior, including our responses to whatever bad (or good) things happen to us. Or…
We’d have to accept responsibility for the outcome of our life – and depending on that outcome – we might not feel great about ourselves.
That scares the snot out of people. Wait a minute, what? I have to accept responsibility for my own life? That’s not fair!
A Broken, Crippling Viewpoint
Short-term gain for long-term (even lifetime) pain. The attention feels good. People notice. They think about us. Even feel sad or sorry for us. Pat us on the back. Tell us how sorry they are we’re going through this. Suddenly, the spotlight feels good. Addicting maybe. So we come back for more. And more. And more.
Maybe never realizing that we’re weakening ourself with every encounter. Damaging our resolve. Injuring ourself more than any perceived trauma we may have endured earlier in life. Because now, we’re helpless. We’ve learned how to be helpless.
Recovery may be impossible, but it’s a low depth from which to recover. Many go so deep they can’t find their way back to the surface of personal responsibility. Back to where the air is fresh and they can breathe again.
A bad day becomes much, much more because we give it permission to grow, intensify and define us. Like a tropical storm that begins very small in the middle of the Atlantic, that sudden surge of pleasure we get from others who feel sorry for us builds. Compounds. Picks up energy along the way. Months or years later, it’s a full blown self-centered, woe-is-me hurricane with a deadly force. A force so powerful it overtakes us and destroys our willingness to deploy grit and determination to make our life better!
Don’t Let Disappointments Define You
This isn’t about minimizing bad things that happen to us, but it is about refusing to magnify them. We enlarge things when they’re beneficial. Like photos. But we can enlarge them so much they lose value. Other things are more harmful if we enlarge them. Like disappointments. Or suffering.
Where’s the benefit?
Is it in hoping others will feel badly for us?
Or hoping they’ll notice us more?
How does that help us?
Yeah, I’d like everybody to know me as the King of Disappointment. Or maybe the Queen of Suffering.
That’s hardly an admirable reputation goal.
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