“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz
I have been struggling these last few days for many reasons. Once again the tidal wave of change came crashing onto the shores of my life and I feel that I wasn’t very well prepared for this. Of course, you can’t truly be prepared for what life throws your way, but you can make sure that you’re well suited and I wasn’t. I thought I was, but boy was I wrong. I went from being the happiest I have ever been in my life, to wanting to be alone again, away from everyone and contemplating the life changing decisions I have made.
Earlier on in my life I had make choices where I thought I had none. I felt as if I had no choice but to feel inadequate, unintelligent and incapable of many things. I looked externally for validation and sources of happiness. It really mattered to me that others liked me and thought well of me and therefore I went way above and beyond to please them, all the while compromising my own self-respect, self-needs and personal satisfaction. My happiness came from others being happy, and I would sacrifice my life in return for their approval. I chose not to live my life.
One thing that I noticed years later was that I was miserable – all the time, and that the people who I was trying to make happy, mainly close loved ones, were not happy at all. Every time that I would try harder to please them, they would become even more displeased with me. There hardly was ever any approval, contentment or even a good thing said about me. I could never live up to their expectation no matter what I did.
And with this came criticism – from them about me. They would complain to others, and the most hurtful thing would happen. I would share my feelings about what was being said, share with them how hurt I was about the judgments being made about me, the untruths being said, however no one would defend me. Instead they chose not say a word, in effect, it was consentient by silence. And throughout this, I did not realize that I had become a servant to them, just as Lawana Blackwell stated when she said “Patterning your life around other’s opinions is nothing more than slavery.” I would then try even harder to discount their opinions, be someone who I thought they would approve of, and I was losing myself. I was slowly dying.
Many years later I managed to break free from the shackles which held me firmly in the slavery role. I began to free myself from the belief that I needed validation from others to create my own happiness, and that I must conform their suggestions and opinions of how I should live my life. I took the reins back. I began to believe that I was ok with being who I am, and so I stopped seeking approval from them. I took on the core value that “I am who I am, and if you don’t like what you see, move on.” It has been working for me, and I have been able to be true to myself, but lately I have found that I tend to revert back to my old self. The self that I am so desperately wanting to put to rest. And I don’t like it.
Up until now I have been coping well with the stressful and difficult life I have been leading. There have been many times where I have broken down, but when I have put myself back together, I have been able to create a better version of myself, a stronger and more loving version. I have had intuitive insights of how things will be in the near future, the difficulties I will be facing and the crap I will be going through, and especially the grief I will be receiving from others. I have had a small taste of it and it was awful. I do not like what I see, as it involves people who are very close to me and criticism and judgment from those who I love. This happened over Christmas time, by people who I don’t really spend time with. I don’t think they will accept the person I am becoming, and essentially, I was contemplating changing who I am to meet their needs. I was choosing to become a slave to their opinions; to not live my life.
I need to sit with this some more, as I do not like what I am seeing in myself. I try to remind myself of what Bethania McKenstry once said “I’m not sure I want popular opinion on my side – I’ve noticed with the most opinions often have the fewest facts.” These people are in fact making decisions based on incomplete information, and therefore I should not take heed to what they have said, will say or act. Still I struggle with this, as they do not want to know more, and so how could things possibly change? Maybe I should just accept that things won’t. Yet I must remind myself that I, above everything and anyone else, must be true to MYSELF; that others will always have opinions about me, my situation, and my life. Time will only tell if things will change, which I hope they do, and during that time I must decide whether or not I will put up with this, fight this or just walk away.
As Friedrich Schiller said “be noble minded! Our own heart, and not other men’s opinions of us, forms our true honor”. I choose to honor myself.