Lately I’ve given myself the task of psychological inventory: what am I holding onto, what should I release.
It occurred to me this past summer when I was moving apartments how much we cling to and how little we throw away. A simple cleaning out the closet really inspired me to dig deeper.
More than hanging onto things, which our society does very well, we often use our powerful minds as a weapon, to keep ourselves repeating the same stories, reliving the same events, re-running the same conversations, finding ways to make sense of things the mind simply cannot tackle.
What kept me in a cycle of discontent, riddled with a F*ck You on my forehead, was an accumulated bitterness over circumstances that simply didn’t go my way.
At some point I needed to forgive and forget everything that stung and left a sour energy in my soul. I needed to purge it, nut up, and recognize that no one gets what they want all the time.
Not everyone has the best hand dealt to them upon birth, upon entering school, upon exiting school, upon entering the job market, the love market, the friendship market, the athletics market, the artistic market, the business market, or any other market you can fathom entering.
Some of our parents are smart, mature, kind, nurturing, hard-working, and fun, but not all the time, and not every parent. Obviously. Some of our parents are perfectly good people. Good brains, good hearts, good intentions. Either they can’t make it work together or they can’t get out of their own way. They’re human.
It’s not personal, as deeply painful as it feels, once we realize we have nothing owed to us and we’re all lost on our own paths, we’re freed to create our own happiness and rely on others for support, connection and fun, with the ultimate say being left within each of us.
Some of the worst feelings I can remember experiencing were that of heart-ache, the sting of rejection or failure in a relationship. It certainly burns to care for someone and that emotion be unrequited, no doubt about it.
But what I realize now, having been rejected in a multitude of ways, both subtle and obvious, is that it’s none of my damn business what others thing of me. And if someone doesn’t want me, that’s okay.
How someone executes their rejection may or may not be of the asshole variety but their mere dislike or non-interest in me is entirely up to them.
Yes, it stings, but for me to go on hating them or fuming over their opinion of me just shows what an outright childish ego reaction I’m having to not getting what I want.
Not only is wallowing in self-pity and taking past mistakes out on future endeavors/relationships pointless and a waste of energy, it also sets up this insecure framework with which we live our lives. We attract people that feed into our chosen energy states and if we are pervasively unhappy, the put-together people will eventually tire of us. And they damn well should.
When I felt lonely in college, the problem was not the pool of men I could date, the problem was not my school, my major, my friends or my family. The problem was me. I enabled my ex-boyfriend to be emotionally unavailable to me for years. His behavior was erratic and unpredictable.
Being first love territory and me being young, I chalked this up to me liking men who were aloof; a strong quality to attract and even more bizarre to welcome it into my heart like it belonged there. It didn’t. I should’ve known better and when he disappointed me again, I should not have been so surprised or so hurt. I should’ve accepted and moved on, having learned this mistake many times before.
I believe strongly that people can change, but not at the expense or under the tutelage of another. It was not my job to stick around and slowly pry open the carefully guarded heart of a guy who clearly got there his own way. He needed to find his way out. There’s no prize in being the person who waits around for someone else to figure out how to treat other human beings, especially the ultimate human being, a chosen partner.
People mistake infatuation, falling in love, lust, mutual attraction, and many related emotions for happiness. But the excitement over getting attention and exchanging a few hot months with someone soon settles to a more functioning level and once the dust settles, that’s where real relationships are made.
Another soul in our lives doesn’t have a role to fulfill, tasks to complete or fixing to do. We are here to love, bounce existence and share experiences.
The people we surround ourselves with should elevate us, starting by the eyes staring us back in the mirror.
We set the precedent inside. We may not realize it because we walk around killing time and distracting ourselves from really dealing, but it’s true.
Easier said than done, sure. I’m writing now because I know we are all capable. So many of us repeat our same behaviors and mistakes with new people, in new jobs, in a new city. The setting has changed but the story is the same.
When we are experiencing the same issues, whether they be broad or specific, the answer is always us. We are the common denominator. We are the ultimate deciders in how we approach, love, respect, and trust people. And it all begins and ends with how we approach, love, respect and trust ourselves.
Life is short. If you’re warm, fed, moderately healthy and still breathing, then it’s time to buck up and recognize you hold the key to your happiness or unhappiness, no one else.
We all have an internal compass and we are smart enough to follow it if we’d just release all the expectations and bullshit we carried from our past, shut the thinking mind off every now and again and choose gratitude over complaint, optimism over pissiness, humility over blame.
There’s always something to be learned. Even if your partner cheats on you, lies to you, betrays you, there’s something to be gleaned from this. Throwing fault assigns winners and losers like relationships are some sick game. They’re far too complex to have definitive sides, and when love is true, real, there is no side. Love just is. We accept and have chosen our current circumstances, so even when they crumble we must take responsibility for our part and move forward wiser.
To look back and imagine where my life would be NOW had I gotten my way THEN is nearly terrifying! I may not have taken the steps and made the decisions which led to becoming a teacher, writer, and all around more compassionate, humble, softer person. I also wouldn't have met the extraordinary people who teach me in positive ways every day, whether they know it or not. Life has a way of chiseling away at our rigid exterior, leaving us raw and exposed, with the choice to run and ride, or rise and shine.
I choose to shine. I accept Nos and failures, rejections and disappointments just as I accept Yeses, successes, embraces and excitement: with gratitude. Both will be staples in my life as long as I’m able to live it, so the happier choice for my soul and ultimately the more positive choice for those around me is to expect life to hand me a beautiful bouquet of flowers that are budding, blossoming and wilting, and to work with what I’m given with the tools that cannot be destroyed: my breath, my heart, my intelligence.
There is something deep within your being that is resilient above all else. When the world dissolves and changes around you, what is still standing? Begin the day connected to that part in you, feeling grateful for each breath and open to learn lessons, make new connections and dream new dreams.
Nothing can destroy your essence, rise feeling empowered to write a new story of your life each day, revising and adapting as needed.