By "it", I mean honesty! Early in life, I fell prey to the mindset of keeping quiet as to limit the number of feathers that I'd ruffled in life. Looking back, I can remember run-ins with a few haughty personalities that further influenced my decision. I even recall a sharp-tongued "That's what you get for thinking" reprimand at the hands of my mother. I never wanted to cause trouble or be a hindrance. I only wanted to make a difference in the world! It seemed like a simple enough task but there were some bumps in the road. Years of taking the passive co-signer's role led me to some pretty unfavorable situations. Not all bad but I can't say that I was always proud of my stance and the resulting outcome. In some cases, I regretted my spineless involvement to the point of tears. The continuous cycle of people-pleasing then regret soon led to resentment for others & myself.
As this wasn't an easy cycle to fall into, it was an agonizing cypher to break free of. I struggled so much with how I'd be perceived or even if I was capable of making a decision on my own. At my table sat resent, doubt, inferiority, shame, and a host of other downtrodden insecurities. Wrestling with these for so many years pushed me to a point of exhaustion and outright sadness. I had to make a change and my life depended on it. Changing behavior that's become nature will never happen overnight. Honestly, the journey isn't over until you're dead. As long as there are choices to be made in life, you are on the battlefield fighting for your personal truth. So, how did I get to the breaking point and what did I do? Though the task seems great, the actions are small & purposeful!
- I mastered having "face time" with myself. Admittedly, a few times I was forced into this when it was just me alone with my emotions. Hating to be backed into that corner of inadequacy & resentment, I resolved to make purposeful time to have honest reflection on where I am, how I got here , and where I want to go from here. I'll never lie to say this was always an easy moment to be in but it helped me to really understand what makes me tick. I was able to see decisions that were counterproductive for what they were.
- I had to end the blame game. My entire life I listened to family members blame life's circumstances and other people for their poor choices. Without even realizing it, I'd taken on the same mind frame. By blamimg someone for my bad choices, I was essentially saying they were in control of me. Never so! I was fucking up on my own and I knew it! An exercise in 100% responsibility showed me that and I'm forever grateful for the eye opening experience.
- My opinion is valuable! Never one to be in the forefront or seek to outright lead, I convinced myself that my individual opinion wasn't as important as the popular vote. It wasn't until I stepped into a true support role at work that I realized that my job was to offer up a voice when I saw an opportunity or disaster on the horizon. Still a work in progress, I'm far more aware of the significance of my opinion in those crucial moments.
- Question everything!* (Can I express how much I really hate this part! I really want to believe that everyone is innately good and also looking out for me but, sadly, that's not always the case!) This was so hard for me because I felt like I risked coming across as defiant or even juvenile. It took some mastering but I learned the benefits of approach, tone and timing! If one of the three is off, things could crash & burn FAST. Sure, I feel like a tool sometimes for asking 'why' but it clears up any possible misconceptions.
Being honest with yourself is simply a part of growing up. The sooner that you can take off other's expectations & misconceptions that you're wearing, the sooner you can enjoy being comfortable in your own skin. Others will appreciate your authenticity & you free yourself to love the best possible life you can!
*I have another post in the works about the whole questioning things. I'm finally going to get off my butt to finish & edit it. Say a prayer!
Photo credit: Brianna McCarthy