Can a connection to morality be repaired once broken?
Let me propose this to you. If you are lost, you cannot find your way until you find yourself. You cannot find yourself until you face the fact of who you really are and admit that you are lost. Lost, alone and confused, but ready and willing to be found.
Found in this context is an interesting word. Can someone who was lost, grab hold of something stable and find their way? Can they write a narrative for their life and maybe a new code to live by or are they forever lost? I hope to answer that question in this blog. To give you a hint of my position on this matter, I don’t believe anyone is incapable of salvationI had an interesting experience the other day. I was talking to a friend about morals and ethics and said to him, “I want you to imagine something for me.” He seemed perplexed, but willing. “I want you to imagine you grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Your father was a drunk and left your mother when you were only 6 years old. Your mother never got over the hurt and turned to drugs to medicate the pain. With no functioning family, you got in with the wrong crowd and became a troubled youth and then a real problem as a teenager. A few brushes with the law and some time in juvenile detention were just the beginning. But somewhere in your 20’s something changed. A close friend died from an overdose and another went to jail for dealing drugs. You wanted out. Out of the life that was spiraling to destruction. You needed to start over. “What would you do?” I asked this of my friend and he quickly said, “Not an easy answer.” Not an easy question, is it?
Let’s think of it another way. You’re the captain of a sailing ship lost in a storm. When the winds subside and the seas calm down you realize you are truly lost. How do you find out where you are so you can set a course to where you want to be? Can you ever navigate to where you want to be if you don’t know where you are? I don’t think so.
Seems to me you are just like the captain in need of a star. A fixed point in the sea of confusion. So maybe that’s the key but where do you look for a star? Just like the captain, you look upward, of course. In navigation we must first find a seemingly non-moving object in order to use as our sextant or our senses to chart a course.
Where can you find this object that is so solid it can’t be moved? For some it’s family. Family is the solid rock they can navigate toward and from. For the sea captain and many others, it’s the heavens where they came from and where they lean, in times of chaos.
Find that still, unchanging point to look toward, and then build your map around it, no matter whether it’s family, faith or a faraway star. If you want to be found bad enough, you will find yourself. I am sure. Once you are ready, that stable thing in your life will start you building a new map. A moral map based on principles that you can build a life around. But the process of building a new moral map is not easy. It’s not. It first requires desire to change and second a commitment to weather the storms that will surely come.
There’s an interesting force in nature that will pull you back to your past ways. Nature might welcome change in the form of evolving of species but in the case of a persons’s moral direction, change is much more difficult.
Let’s look at this in the case of coping skills. We might work very hard to develop skills to handle difficult situations and in most cases these skills work fine. But what about those situations that push us past our ability to cope? Here’s what happens. We resort to old behaviors in order to survive. That could be shutting down and refusing to engage but it might be the opposite. Our fight or flight system kicks in and we chose to fight. This could be a verbal, but unfortunately, in some cases it results in violence. But that might be the only coping mechanism you know.
Let me give you a sports example from my own life. When I started snow skiing, many years ago, I began with my skis in a wedge. This provided the best control.
Later I graduated to a more parallel position and 95% of the time I glide down the intermediate runs in great control.
But from time to time I become overconfident and stand at the top of a black expert slope. I start down but eventually realize I’m past my skill level and so to regain control, I resort to what? You guessed it. My wedge. My survival skill. Think of this as coping in the worst of situations. Life mirrors the mountain and from time to time we are faced with an expert run full of bumps.
This same situation can occur whenever you’re faced with tough moral and ethical decisions. I can promise, you will resort to old habits unless new habits from your new map are developed and old habits are erased. So how do you develop a new habit if the one you have keeps getting you into trouble?
You must build a new you.
Building a new you starts with your moral map. Try to erase from the map all the toxic rules you have been living by. The ones that hurt you and can hurt others as well. Erase the ones that are only self-serving and do nothing for the betterment of humanity. If you want to feel better about you, do something for someone else.
Remember, this moral map is really a decision and behavior filter, full of the ethics and beliefs you will use in making your toughest decisions. To build this new map, look to those unmoving objects and ask how they decide what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. Something that is stable and unchanging. Maybe family or faith or in some cases real friends. I mean real friends. Not the ones that suck the life out of you but the ones that breathe life into you. The friends that celebrate you and lift you up. The friends that always leave you feeling better about yourself.
Ask yourself if their moral code would fit the person you want to become. If the answer is yes then lean on that rock and start building your map.
Being found sometimes requires reaching back to continue forward. It’s not the total answer for finding yourself and your way through life. But it’s a great place to start your long journey of being found and not lost anymore.
– Steve Haberly
Do not miss my next blog, The man, the lady and the tiger