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Day 183: We Determine Ourselves

“Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations.” -Alfred Adler

During the process of working with the angel investment conference, I met three kinds of entrepreneurs. There were people like me, who were in the midst of building a dream, and then there were those who referred to themselves as recovering entrepreneurs, people who were still intrigued with the process, but had not succeeded in their most recent venture. Then there were people who called themselves serial entrepreneurs, these were the people who were so inspired by the process of creation, that whether they had previously failed or succeeded was immaterial. These were the people ready for the next adventure.

I have thought a lot about these categories and wondered after this Good Clean Love project was all said and done, which camp I would find myself. On a certain level the issue is whether we are more tied to the outcome of what we do than the process. This question is not as simple or straightforward as it seems though, when you consider that for many, if not all of the recovering and serial entrepreneurs, there was a significant loss sustained. Attempting to grow a business and failing is more frequent an occurrence than the opposite, which attracts us all to the endeavor and the experience takes a toll.

The same three categories could be applied to people in relationship. There are those who are deep in the building process of their relationship, finding ways to keep their heart and resources available to the work of learning to love and relate. There are many people who would describe themselves as recovering from a relationship and its aftermath. And there are the serial relationship people, those who are dedicated to being in a relationship, regardless of the risk.

Whether you are recovering from a business loss or an emotional heart break, or some combination of them, the issue is whether you allow the past to keep you from fully living the present and envisioning your future. There is a slippery slope between long-time recovery and aversion to trying anything again. I have met many people who have felt so broken by their losses that they have given up huge stages of their life to them. Just as sad are the people who don’t recognize their own refusal to engage. Don’t let recovery fool you into dropping out of life.

For those serial entrepreneurs and bounce back lovers, who refuse to process the aftermath and heartbreak of loss, choosing instead to leap into the next set of arms or incredible opportunity, they also lose the opportunity to learn and grow from what happened. Just picking up and moving on seems a healthy response, but not when the avoidance of your last situation only serves to recreate it with someone else. Not learning from our past makes us untrustworthy even to ourselves.

We determine ourselves and create the meaning of our life by what we do with the situations and relationships that fill them. The truth of it is both recovering and serial. You must have the courage to feel our lives while not losing the courage to keep on trying.