How many times have we walked away from a situation regretting the things we didn’t say?
I know I have several times.
For too long I’ve let people have their own way, fearing that if I didn’t conform to their view of the world that they would reject me for it. Not knowing where you fit in makes it pretty hard to know your own worth as a person and therefore you measure your worth based on how other people react to you.
I used to think that by doing what was best for others was the only way that I could feel valued or loved – sometimes it was the only way for me to getting any attention or positive reinforcement at all. Knowing that such attention and praise was such a rarity, it made me want to cling onto those small slivers of happiness all the more, to the point where I had ignored my own needs entirely.
For a long time I couldn’t see that giving so much to others was harming me. It’s one thing to be kind, generous, compassionate to others but it becomes unhealthy when you place all of that above yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we should go through life not giving a damn about the effect that our actions have on others, far from it. Yet we also need to remember that we matter too.
We need to have compassion for ourselves, an understanding of who we are and our worth as human beings. Having compassion for yourself isn’t about doing whatever the hell you want and damn the consequences, but it is about taking a little time to care about ourselves and our own happiness.
Sometimes it is something as simple as giving yourself the night off from obligations. As much as I love writing, I need to give myself a break every now and then. Getting a word count in every single day of the year shouldn’t define who I am as a person. Just because I take a couple of days to clear my mind of writing shouldn’t make me a bad person. Is it really going to make that much difference if I miss a day here or there?
I took a week’s vacation from work recently and spent the first three or four days sitting at my keyboard from 9 am to 6 pm writing, and although I got an impressive word count in, I did begin to wonder what the hell I was doing. I’d become so focused on writing that I’d forgotten to take care of what really matters – me.
I’ve recently come to the realisation that pleasing others shouldn’t be the most important thing in my life. Sometimes the right thing to do is take a step back and stand up for yourself. For too long I’ve kept my mouth closed and agreed to put my own needs aside for the sake of others and where has it got me?
Years of intense therapy for a start.
I need to work on being more assertive and telling people, ‘No, today I am going to take some time for myself,’ instead of readily agreeing to whatever they suggest. And if they don’t like it? Well, that’s their issue, not mine.
It’s taken me over thirty years to realise, but I am a good person and I am worth caring about. Perhaps those who insist on casting me aside because I’ll no longer conform to their beliefs or view of the world will be the ones who lose out in the end. I can’t live the life that others want me to lead anymore, this is my life and I deserve to be happy.
I don’t believe in fairy tales, but I do believe that we can each find our own happiness, we just have to be looking in the right places. And you know the best place to start?