Soren Kierkegaard said “Every human being comes to earth with sealed orders.” Sealed orders are not to be read until a specific time, and often we don’t know what that time is until it presents itself.
Each of us is opening our orders every day in our relationships, work, home or community environments as we face the moments of living human. We’re opening them alone or with each other as we face the unexpected or expected with our families, neighbors and culture. Some of us are eager to know what our orders are; others of us would rather not know them at all, not just yet, or maybe know them and ignore them altogether.
In any case, knowing ourselves well can prepare us for the consequences or benefits of our choices when those times come.
Identifying ahead of time what we can expect from ourselves in kindness, patience, understanding and forgiveness helps us open and carry out our orders with a degree of confidence and courage. This self-understanding also helps us face our triggers of anger, judgment and dismissiveness, reminding us of where our work lies.
Opening our sealed orders gets easier if we practice self-refection and self-awareness. Our tools are candor, honesty and courage. Our vulnerabilities can become our teachers if we are willing and receptive – and we mix in a healthy dose of self-compassion.
Kierkegaard’s sealed orders won’t go away, but we can welcome them with conviction as we stay ready to embrace another of his teachings: “Life can only be understood backwards. But it must be lived forwards.”