I should have carried on listening yesterday. 🙂
The sentence that stopped me in my tracks today was:
“If you cannot say ‘No’ within a relationship, you are going to have to say ‘No’ to that relationship eventually”
In my last piece, I talked about healthy boundaries. And here we have the ultimate, but far pithier, description of just that. Again, I should point out that we are not talking, necessarily, about a romantic relationship. It could be anything: from your spouse, a member of your family, your children, a friend… to the person behind the till in the supermarket.
It is vitally important that we follow our own path. (Obviously, I mean with integrity). I have to be who I have to be, just as you have to be who you have to be. I cannot be someone else just to make you happy, nor would I want you to be someone else just to make me happy. And I think at some point in our lives, we all experience the shadow-side of this conundrum. We are asked to do or be something that doesn’t fit with the life we want or the person we know ourselves to be. But the person asking is someone we care about, whose happiness is important to us, so we agree. And we try. But this way disaster lies. Always, lurking somewhere on the edge of our consciousness, there is a small, nagging gnome of discomfort. I believe this gnome to be shame. We are ashamed that we are not living our lives with integrity. We feel diminished. If we can stand up for ourselves – with love and respect, of course – and our ‘No’ is accepted, then the relationship can only become stronger and more respectful of boundaries. But if the price of the relationship is that you must attempt to bend yourself into a shape you do not recognise as your own, to become that proverbial square peg in a round hole, if you cannot say ‘No – I cannot be who you want me to be. I need to be who I am’ without World War III breaking out, it is time to think.
Under these circumstances, we have two choices as I discussed yesterday: we can tread water waiting for the situation to improve, for the other person to notice our discomfort and take back their requests for us to be ‘other’ than we are; or we can address it.
Self-love is arguably the most important of all. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love another. I know that there are those who would try to turn that concept into something selfish, but that is not what we are talking about here. We are not discussing those who help themselves to the largest slice of cake before offering it to anybody else. That should, I hope, be obvious. I am talking about the concept of learning to love who you are, warts and all; to be as forgiving of yourself as you are of others; to grant yourself the freedom to follow your own path just as you would not interfere with anyone else’s. In the spirit of ‘you cannot give away what you do not have’, how can you love anyone else if you do not have love in you?
Equally, you would not stand by and watch someone you love bullied, so why would you allow that to happen to YOU? If you love yourself, you have a duty of care to yourself not to permit that to happen.
In our sitting room we have a picture on the wall that says: “Live the life you love” but we have recently decided that it better serves us to “Live the life you have“. Stop dreaming about the life you ‘could‘ have; don’t live in the past in a time that, through the rose-tinted spectacles of hindsight, now seems like your ‘glory days’; don’t spend the life you have trying to be somebody you are not. You are here. Now. Wake up. Be yourself. Love who you are. Take action. Turn the spotlight on your life, right into the most cobwebby corners, the most difficult relationships. Face it. Face it. And if you don’t like what you see, fix it. It’s that simple. Fix it. Make it work or throw it out.
Give up the illusion that you can control anybody else. And don’t allow yourself the delusion that anyone else is controlling you. You are in the driving seat. You make the decisions. Nobody else. The only person you can control and who can control you is YOU, but without integrity even that is an illusion. First wake up. Then get up. Then sort it out. 🙂
If you want to live, then live!
It really is down to you.