By Matt Hearnden

1. Actions may speak louder than words, but words pierce and end things in a way actions never do. Actions are up for interpretation. Words are definitive. 

I couldn’t take it. Not any more.

The flirting, the touching, the laughing. It wasn’t a game to me. It was real. It was what I wanted to be real.

I’d even told my parents she might be “The One.” I’m not sure I dared to believe it.

And, so, my heart trying to escape my chest, I told her. I told her I really liked her. I told her I wanted to be with her.

She told me she didn’t want to stop being “homies.”

Those were some loud words.

2. Ignorance is not bliss. It is delusion. 

I first became curious about who I was after I’d just been fired for stealing.

Because that wasn’t who I was. But that’s who I’d been. And I had to let the icy rope of acceptance string up my heart.

So who was I?

“Who am I?”

I knew a little bit about who I wasn’t. I wasn’t a thief. But who was I?

I didn’t know.

That’s why I’d been a thief. That’s why I’d been who I wasn’t.

That’s why I was in pain.

3. Time doesn’t heal all – we do. Realizing that is to be aware of a different kind of power. 

I split up with my ex-girlfriend and she cried and I cried. And then we got back together and had more of the best sex we’d ever had. And then I realised I’d made a mistake and split up with her again. From us both. Even from my mother.

And then we became “friends with benefits.” We weren’t friends though. We didn’t see each other unless we we’re going to have sex. Sometimes that would be the only thing we did.

I loved this arrangement. We had incredible physical chemistry. Why let that go?

And then I’d feel guilty for taking advantage of her because I knew she still had feelings for me and I didn’t have feelings for her. So I’d end “it,” whatever “it” was.

And then I’d get lonely. Or horny. Or bored. And then we’d have sex again.

And then I’d feel guilty… you get where this is going.

We were going in circles. I was going in circles. I couldn’t seem to break the cycle even though I knew, far too deep down, that it was the right thing to do.

It was only when I realised I deserved better than to keep putting myself through this pain that I stopped it.

Ah. Relief.

Time doesn’t heal all.

We heal all.

4. We don’t regret the chances we didn’t take.

That girl on the beach I didn’t talk to. That girl at the wedding I didn’t talk to. The countless girls in bars and clubs I didn’t talk to.

After the moment to talk had passed I’d be full of regret.

“How has this happened again?” I’d think, berating myself, shaking my head, hating the reality I was in.

Maybe if I’d spoken to that girl on the beach then I would’ve got her number and spent all holiday focussing on her rather than enjoying being with my friends.

Maybe if I’d spoken to that girl at the wedding she’d be plastering pictures of me all over Facebook instead of her new boyfriend.

Maybe if I’d spoke to one of those countless girls in the bars and clubs then I’d be completely different to the me I am today. Maybe I wouldn’t be deeply enjoying writing this answer. Maybe I would never have had the chance to discover I deeply enjoy writing at all.

Maybe I wouldn’t be the me I am today. And I like the me I am today. He’s cool.

I’m grateful for the chances I didn’t take.

5. Life can be too long.

I’d just found a job I really liked and I was getting better at and I was getting ever closer to promotion when I was told that job no longer existed and I’d be moving jobs to something that sounded boring.

The new job was boring. I also didn’t have a manager or even a senior manager.

And then I had a manager. And then there was another restructure and he was let go and I was told I’d be moving into yet another job.

And then I had a senior manager! And then I had a manager! But it was the same boring job as before.

I was eating healthy, I was working out almost every day, and I’d almost fall asleep at my desk every day.

One time I almost headonned with another car because I fell asleep at the wheel. I was that tired. And that was only on my 20 minute journey home.

I found myself in the foetal position on my bed. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing else. This was the only relief.

Everything was forced. My job, my life, my projection to the universe.

Life felt too long.

6. “With great power comes great responsibility.” 

Read it again if you think this is the regular quote.

When I wrote down what’s important to me the only thought that came to mind when I looked at the list was “that’s me.”

Finally. This is who I am. This is how to be happy.

I ignored that.

I stayed in my job. I stayed stuck. I stayed who I’d been.

How powerful do you think I felt?

It wasn’t until I decided that I could either take responsibility or not, that I could either say who I am or be who I am, that I decided to take responsibility and start being who I was.

Since that moment I’ve taken voluntary redundancy from my job to pursue my dream as a self-employed writer.

How powerful do you think I feel now?

7. Life isn’t always about what you do.

I was at the top of a hill in the park and I was reading and I was enjoying myself.

But not fully. Something wasn’t there.

Everything seemed still. The sky, the trees, the grass. Everything except me.

I put my kindle in my bag and laid down on the grass and just stopped.

It was one of the most peaceful moments of my life because I didn’t care about anything. Not even peace. I let go of everything. I existed.

That was enough.

8. Sometimes you need to hold onto the things you don’t always enjoy.

I know. We’re supposed to “let go.”

I don’t enjoy every moment of writing. I don’t enjoy every day. I don’t enjoy every week.

Sometimes I’d rather watch a film. Or spend time with friends. Or sleep.

But I love writing. I love finding the right word. I love killing my darlings. I love finding the essence of a story.

But if I don’t enjoy every moment then I’m supposed to give it up?

Justine Musk said it best:

“The problem is that we’ve lost any real sense of what ‘passion’ means. It’s not what gives you bliss or makes you happy 24/7, but what you’re willing to suffer for — what you genuinely believe to be worth the sacrifice.”

Hold on.

9. Take things at face value.

I know. We’re not supposed to do this. Something else we’re not supposed to do.

If somebody tells you they’re sad then take it at face value.

If somebody tells you they’re struggling then take it at face value.

If somebody tells you they want to kill themselves then take it at face value.

What could happen if you didn’t?

10. Everything in your life is your problem, even if it isn’t your fault.

Yes. Even yours.

“Whatever happens, take responsibility.”

That might be Tony Robbins’ best quote.

I didn’t understand it when I first heard it. I thought “how?”

Perhaps I still don’t fully understand it now. I hope I don’t. That way I’ll get to learn more.

I think it’s about living in reality. It’s about admitting where you want to be and why you aren’t there yet.

When I wanted to quit my job to start a life coaching business a couple of years ago I wasn’t taking responsibility. I wasn’t admitting that it wasn’t working because of me. I was blaming everybody else. “People just don’t want a life coach,” I’d say.

I knew plenty of life coaches. So that was an excuse.

Blame is easy. You know how Brené Brown defines “blame” in her TED talk on vulnerability? “A way to discharge pain.”

I was in pain. I was in pain because what I was doing wasn’t working.

But what if I’d taken responsibilty? What if I’d accepted that I wasn’t where I wanted to be and that it was my fault?

Wouldn’t I have felt in charge? Wouldn’t I have felt powerful? Wouldn’t I have had more choices?

11. Please, by all means, give the hell up.

Something else we’re not meant to do! Lots of rules in this “life” thing isn’t there?

It was when I was in the foetal position that I realised I need to give up. I didn’t know it was giving up then. But it was.

I was in the foetal position because I was unhappy and it seemed like the only comfort.

I was unhappy because my job was fraying me and my business was nothing. But, mostly, I was unhappy because I wasn’t being who I knew I was.

The job and the business were symptoms. Not being me was the problem.

I said to myself “I can’t keep doing this.”

And then I said to myself “I won’t keep doing this.”

And, now, looking back, that’s when I gave up.

Judging myself. Being my own prisoner. Thinking I had no choices. Pretending to be someone I wasn’t. Thinking I deserved anything less than being who I really was.

That’s what I gave up.

12. Do two more things than you think are required. 

Or don’t, if those two more things aren’t worthwhile.

Speak with your actions and words.

Know the truth.

Learn how to heal yourself.

Don’t take the chances that aren’t worth it.

Don’t feel bad about wasting a few days.

Don’t assume power if you don’t want to assume responsibility.

Existing is as valuable as anything else.

Accept where you are as where you should be.

Assume everything that affects you is your problem to deal with. Then deal with it.

Then give up when you realize there are some battles that were never meant to be won.

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