I will never ask anyone to change again. Looking back I can’t believe I wasted so much time trying to get other people to change so that I could feel better. So, how does that work? If someone changes their attitude about me, then that immediately makes me a better person? Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Too bad that no matter what other people think about me if I feel bad about myself, no one is going to change that but me. Why did it take me this long to realize this? It is such a simple concept now that I am on the other side of it. Only I can make myself feel better by finding out why I don’t feel good to begin with. But, it is like anything that is worth getting in your life. It doesn’t come easy. I had to work at being me and feeling good, and I still work at it every day.
Time is like gold, or actually even more valuable then gold. When time is gone, it is gone. I can never get it back. Spending my time ‘putting up’ with people, or ‘handling’ situations that give me nothing in return doesn’t work for me anymore. Faking it, and pretending to be interested takes a lot of energy that I can use elsewhere in my life. Faking it used so much of my energy, it sent me into a spiral of exhaustion and hopelessness. I used to blame everyone around me for making me spiral out of control. At the time, I thought that if people treated me differently then I would rise up out of my hopelessness and be happy. ‘If only other people stopped treating me badly, then I could stop feeling badly,’ was my mantra. But I see now I was choosing all the situations that I was in. I was attracting and keeping all those people in my life whose only interest in me was how I could serve them.
I reflect back on my family a lot when I have questions about why I think the way I do. When did some of the notions I have about life first get entered into my brain? The notion that I can ‘handle’ things, came from growing up in a dysfunctional situation that I had no choice but TO handle. But, I don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t have to put up with people that take advantage of me, that are rude to me, or that disrespect me. But, it goes even farther than that. Even if someone is perfectly nice to me, if I don’t feel comfortable around them, or feel like I get anything from the interaction, I don’t have to be around them either.
It is up to me to make good choices in my life to make myself feel better. I know this without a doubt, because I feel so differently now. And no one made me feel differently but me. I did this by looking at how I really, and I mean REALLY, felt about things. Some things I was doing in my life made me feel bad and gave me nothing in return but I was doing them anyway. So, slowly but surely I cleaned out the garbage in my life.
The first thing to go was alcohol. Alcohol’s cost benefit analysis just didn’t add up anymore. Even if I had only 1 glass of wine my eyes would swell up, and I would feel crappy the next day. So, why was I putting something in my body that made me look and feel terrible? Plus if I was going to try and figure out what made me happy, I needed to get in touch with my emotions and not numb them out with alcohol.
The next thing to go were toxic relationships. Not that I could walk out of people’s lives in one day, but I started taking back my own power within the relationship. But before I could do that, I had to recognize and acknowledge my own power. I did this my practicing yoga. I started doing 20 minutes of yoga every morning before work. It helped me get centered first thing in the morning, so that I wasn’t being ping-ponged around all day.
Slowly, the people that were toxic in my life either started to respect my new centeredness or they left my life on their own. I didn’t even have to have big discussions with them. Once I got centered and started defining my boundaries, they stopped calling and coming around. Not that it wasn’t hard. I felt very sad when I came to terms with the fact that some people in my life didn’t care to be around me unless I was pouring all my energy into them. These are the same relationships that had brought me so much pain and that I had worked so hard to understand. But now I know that there was never anything to figure out or understand. They were just using me, and when my energy well ran dry they had no use for me. In trying not to see this in the past, I kept myself locked in a draining relationship that was never going to change.
Finally and most importantly, I took back my time. I stopped feeling guilty or bad for telling my family and friends that I wanted ‘me’ time. I used to feel bad if I was doing something for me and someone else was having a bad day. I used to think it was somehow my responsibility to make them feel better before I could relax. I know this programming came from my childhood, and even my adult relationships with my family. They used to call me selfish when I took care of myself. And I believe this thought was reinforced by society as I grew into a woman.
But, I don’t try and ‘do it all’ anymore. Now, I try and remember to do it for me. No one knows what makes me happy and fulfilled more than I do. And no one can make me happy but me. So, I need time to explore and do the things that make me feel good.
That is not selfish, that is just a good efficient use of time; ‘Me’ Time.