Those really bad days teach you a lot. For me, and sometimes I didn’t wish it was this way, but it’s a grounding experience. I wrote yesterday that those moments that bring you to your knees and the tears begin to flow are ones that develop you. Because the greatest of sorrows allows you to feel the greatest of joys. The greatest of pains allows you to experience the greatest smiles. Because sorrow and joy come hand in hand. You can’t have one experience without the other.

That’s life. An experience of pure balance. You swing to the right you are guaranteed to swing back to the left. The farther you swing one way, the farther you can swing the other. I know for the me bad times can be pretty bad. But if I have learned anything over the years, I have learned how to sit with them and experience them for what they are. I am learning quickly that bad events are not personal attacks. I think way back when that wasn’t really the case. I believed at one time that if someone did something wrong and it involved me that they were going after me. That’s really the farthest thing from the truth.

People are going to do what people are going to do. You can’t stop them. You can’t change their minds often. People only change for themselves. That’s what true sustainable and everlasting transformation is about. About looking yourself in the eyes and wanting something different. All you can do at the end of the day is be the best person you can be. If you are a good one, you will be taken advantage of, you will be betrayed at times, but that’s all part of the game. Life is a team sport.

Through circumstance and an odd set of coincidences I have started to believe that I have been put here on this earth for a very specific reasons. There have been many occasions where I have been there for people at their darkest, loved them and showed them the light in life, and then they disappear or move on. After the first couple of times I was frustrated that people didn’t stick around when things were really good for them. I wanted to be there with them to celebrate the positives that were happening in their life. After my sister talked to me about the fact that possibly I am the one person that can help them see the light in their worst of times, I began to accept the reality but not fully. But after yesterday, and rereading a letter that I have kept very close to me, I now believe that I am here for that reason. Whether it is in being there for another person or my writing, I am in a place where I know now that my gift is delivering light in darkness.

That still left the question of what to do when people leave. There are so many options, but only one really stuck out. Nothing. You have to hold the people you love with an open palm. Eventually, if things are right, they will come back. But if they don’t, never despair because you brought out the best in them. You were that rock foundation they needed in a time of dire need. Now I think back to all of the times where these situations have happened and smile. Some of the people who exited did it in a painful way, but in the end you have a choice to smile at the good times or tarnish the entire time spent because of a final act.

I always believed that taking the high road meant brushing things off no matter what and moving on. I think there is room for that, however, eventually you need to take a stand. I only ask three things of people in my life – honesty, loyalty, and respect. At the start, if they can’t offer that I don’t hold it against them and we move on. But when those foundations are broken, I can’t be stepped on. I have to move on no matter how painful it is. And I asked myself why this morning while I was taking a walk…and I finally figured out the answer.

I live hard.

I love hard, I live hard, I play hard, I work hard. I give everything I have to people and ask for those three in return. But when they get broken, and depending on what happened, I have to make a decision for myself on what to do. It’s incredibly easy to get very angry about things that people have done. On the flip side, it’s very easy to write them off completely and say screw it. But as time has gone on I have begun to see the color between black and white. And there are so many colors to be seen. It doesn’t excuse delivering people heartbreaking pain, but it does help you see a perspective. It does help you understand. Most of all, it helps you forgive.

People don’t always do bad things in a planned way. Often of times they don’t know which way is up and make decisions while drowning. It’s not personal. In fact, most of the time if you are perceptive you can see things coming. Love blinds us all, but not entirely. We are all human, and therefore anything human is something we are capable of. To believe that the lion won’t eat you because you didn’t eat it isn’t rational thinking at all.

Where am I going with this? You have two choices. You can either love your heart out or you can lock it up and pretend you don’t know where the key is. You can live bold or you can live scared. Sure there are a lot of ways of doing things right in the middle, but the most exciting things happen when we reach for the edge. To really see what we are capable of. That’s when you find your stuff. That little umph that you have been looking for. And though I have been hurt and betrayed and stabbed in the back a handful of times, I still continue to love passionately, forgive from the heart, and live my life in the best way I can. Why? Because I’ve been the other way. A long time ago I went the other direction, and I know what it’s like to live there. Nothing good comes from that place. You hurt, you suffer, and the people around you experience you that way as well.

There are better ways of doing things. I made my choice a long time ago.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project