I am done with bullshit.
Until now I've spent a lot of my life trying to make people happy or, worse, to try and make people like me.
I've been on this slow continuum the past few years though where I've begun to realize that I truly have no control over either of those states of existence; no matter what I do happiness comes from within and I am unable to control whether someone else is happy or not and also I literally have zero ability to control what other people think of me or whether they like me or not.
Sure, those statements are all pretty "duh" universal truths that we're all taught via various internet memes and classroom inspirational posters growing up but despite being exposed to those lessons a lot in life, they still take a while to sink in. Yes, it's lovely to see a photo of a rainbow in Fiji with some obscure guru being quoted about how happiness comes only from the self but it feels much less-rainbowy to learn that lesson the "hard" way through the trails and errors of life. What I'm trying to say here is that it's been a rough few years but finally those rainbow memes are really becoming applicable in my Real Life and I'm starting to integrate the messages on a feelings-level, not just a regurgitated-message level (ew).
This year (all 17 days into it lol) I've already had a few shit-tastic things happen to me. What's different though has been my coping mechanisms involving these experiences. Seems that I've had a much sought-after "a-ha!" moment somewhere along the line which has changed how I deal with most of this stuff now. My "a-ha!"?: I am no longer putting up with bullshit. I'm just not. It goes like this: "Oh, you don't like me?" *shrug*.
Seriously. That's big-time "a-ha!" stuff right there.
And what's even better is that that asterisk-flanked shrug isn't an exercise in false nonchalance. I actually mean it. I really and truly don't feel bothered by someone not liking me. I really and truly just shrug at that and go about my day. This is huge for me because in days of yore, I would have fake shrugged my way through it knowing that the real *shrug* was the "right" response but I secretly would have been in inner turmoil the whole time. I would have been trying to determine ways to turn the situation around, to change the other person's mind. To make them like me. Now? Now I shrug. I real shrug and I move on.
Or, in other cases, I speak my mind. I speak my mind without torturing myself about whether what I'm going to say might Stir Up Trouble or Make Someone Upset or not. Because I finally figured out that if someone is upset, that's on them. And if they want to discuss it with me, I am a very willing and open sounding board and I will be happy to do that but I don't have to take on responsibility for their upsetness, I don't have to embody it at all.
As someone who is (and get ready for a very new agey term for a very real situation so take it seriously please) an Empath I feel a LOT of what other people feel. If someone enters a room, for example, I can feel their mood immediately. My husband, who likes to allow his feelings to dissipate within himself as he processes them, truly LOVES this quality about me I'm sure because the moment he comes into my space with any feelings that aren't totally neutral-to-happy I start asking him questions. It's true for me of any situation though - I can really read the energy in a space and especially in people. I bring this up because I am trying to illustrate what a Big Effing Deal it is that I am no longer taking on responsibility for other people's feelings.
See, when you're empathetic to the level that I am and you can intuitively FEEL other peoples feelings you don't realize that those feelings have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Or at the very least you assume that since you can feel them, you are under some obligation to change them or make them good again. Well guess what? I'm not. And if you relate to any of this: you aren't either.
People are responsible for their own feelings, their own states of existence, their own moods and interpretations and their own hesitancy to clarify or not clarify circumstances. You don't have to make them comfortable all the time. Just because you can sense how they're feeling doesn't mean that it is your job to play Emotional Hostess to their world and try to make them as happy and comfortable as possible.
So that's what I'm figuring out now. That's where I'm at. My job is to be a little more taoist about things which is really just a fancy way of saying that I'm going to go with the flow more. Someone is upset? That's their path. Someone is upset because they don't like something I'm doing? Then I get to decide how I want to proceed forward. It's not automatic that I have to fix it (or really that I have to try to fix it because that's really all I can ever do anyway).
Someone hurts me or does something which I find offensive? That's on me too. They don't owe me anything. But similarly, I don't owe them either.
What I have decided to do is play each circumstance by ear and to figure out how I want to handle it. Sometimes I am going to speak up. Other times, I'm not.
The Universe has already given me so much practice with all of this (palms up, recite: "thank you Universe") that it's kind of crazy. One example of me letting things go and going with the flow is a situation in which I wasn't asked to be involved in something I really thought I was going to be asked to be involved in. It hurts my feelings that I wasn't asked to participate, that's true. But I value the fundamentals of the relationship so much that I am okay with just going with the flow. I trust the person, I trust the friendship, I trust our situation enough that even though I am hurt, I am also okay with it.
However in another situation I was offended by something that was said to me. In the past, I would have "let it go" (for fake) and it would have marinated within me and caused me stress and negativity. I wouldn't have wanted to "cause a problem" or risk making someone mad. But guess what? 2013 is the year of no more BS because that's not what I'm doing now. Now? I spoke my mind. I put out there how i felt and i let it go. Who knows what's going to happen? Not me. But frankly, I feel much more at peace because I was much more authentic. I listened to my intuition and I'm a big believer that you can't go wrong when you listen to your intuition.
No More BS doesn't have to be "all or nothing" either, though. It doesn't have to be either "make a statement" or "sit in the lotus position and go with the flow". No More BS can also be something else that I'm practicing in yet ANOTHER 2013 opportunity which is Figuring Out Boundaries and quietly, peacefully sticking to them.
I have been given the opportunity (like that? it's Optimist for "there's been a shit-storm of emotions that I have to deal with") to figure out that I have certain boundaries and that previous incarnations of myself (in this lifetime) allowed those boundaries to be crossed because she was worried about people not liking her and because she didn't want to lose friendships and because "you don't want to burn bridges" and a whole host of other lies that allowed her to validate behavior that hurt her but she didn't want to deal with because she was scared that there wouldn't be anyone else next in line to show up at her door so even a Shitty Person is better than No Person At All. /run on sentence. What I am saying is that I have figured out that I have boundaries and that they are valid and not to be crossed anymore. I used to let people cross my "boundaries" all the time because I was scared of losing the people more than I was afraid of losing my self respect.
Well, this isn't true anymore. I've been on this crazy journey for the past two years of figuring out just how strong I really am and just how capable of dealing with life on my own I am and I've figured out (finally) that there is no person who is going to be worth crossing the boundaries of respect that I intuitively need to have in place for my own mental wellbeing.
So in my third Opportunity that I've been given this year (and there have been about four or five so far) what I'm doing is quietly honoring a boundary that I felt was being crossed. Key word there is "quietly". Those of you who know me know that I am by no means a wilting flower despite all of my talk in this post about wanting to make sure people like me. I explode, I get verbose, I love an argument, I rant. I also however always make sure I follow up, I always participate in Conflict Resolution Techniques and I always try to smooth things over. It's What I Do.
But now? Not so much. Because I've come to figure out (choir of angels) that I don't need to do that anymore. Someone crossed my boundary? Maybe that means that I don't want THEM in my life. Had I ever thought of that? Nope. Not really. But now I am realizing that that choice is up to me too. I'm not at their mercy. I don't need to make sure things are smooth and nice and not all icky and conflict-covered. No. Someone does something shitty that makes me think they're not genuine or perhaps really weird or simply just not the friend they're pretending to be? Okay, noted. Now I can comfortably withdraw. I can say to myself, "Lesson learned." and have that be that. I don't need to have a big conversation with them, I don't need to "work it out" and try to figure out where the disconnect was. I don't need to understand how they view me or why they treated me they way they did so I can know how to behave in the future to "prevent this from happening again". Why? Because none of that shit is about me. It's allllllll about them. All of it.
That doesn't mean I'm under no obligation to be a good person. Of course I am. I am responsible for my own presence in the world and for my own feelings and my own actions. but I can't change if someone chooses to treat me a certain way or chooses to not reciprocate with me something that I feel that I have given them.
Things I can ask myself to see how I'm doing are:
- what are my values and beliefs?
- am I being genuine to my values and beliefs?
- am I following my intuition?
- am I taking responsibility for my own feelings and behaviors?
- am I being a genuinely good person based on what I believe that definition to be?
- am I being kind to myself and others?
- am I releasing negativity and ulterior motives from this situation?
If I iron out the details to that first question and am then able to answer an honest "yes" to the others than I think that's a pretty good litmus test for how things are going.
At least that's how I've been handling all of this shit that has come up so far in 2013. I'll keep you posted hopefully on how the rest of it pans out. I'm sure that, as usual, The Universe will provide me with many more opportunities to test it all out.
But for now, I embrace 2013 as The Year of No More BS and I look forward to kicking some ass and being myself and just finally, peacefully not giving a shit anymore what anyone else thinks about things. And I don't mean that in a vindictive or defensive way. I mean it like the real legitimate *shrug* up there. I just don't care. I don't have to take it on, it's okay.
And that, my friends, is a HUGE sigh of relief.