I think this is one of the most important life lessons out there. If you fill your mind with regrets of the past and/or with anxiety of the future then you miss out on this moment. I doubt there have ever been any truly perfect moments on Earth. If all you focus on is the imperfections of life, then you will never feel content or happy. People search their whole lives for happiness. They can make some really awful choices looking for it. It’s right in front of you all along. It’s not found with a different partner or career or location. Those things might enhance it, but you can also change all those things and still be miserable if you’re choosing to be miserable. Look for happiness in every day. Be the reason for someone else’s happiness. It’s all about mindset.
I’ve recently started therapy again and mentioned this very thing to my therapist last week. I told her about something very trying in my life and the opinions of others that have gone with it. I said that I had thought I was a confident person until this happened and I realized how much I cared about the opinions of others. It’s cost me a lot in the way of friendships and support, but I knew myself to be in the right.
I won’t lie. For what felt like an extremely long time I was not okay with this. I hated knowing so many people disliked me or thought the worst of me. I went over and over again in my head what I could do differently to alter their opinion. If I told them my side of the story, they would see reason. If I was just more open with them–let them see more of me and my struggles they would see that I must be in the right. If they knew the facts then they would have different opinions of me.
In the end, I said nothing. I learned to get very comfortable with being uncomfortable. I dreaded going out and meeting people who thought they knew everything going on. I spent less time on social media lest they continue to harass me there. It took months, but I grew accustomed to my own skin. I grew confident in myself and who I was without the approval of anyone else.
I had always been the smart one, or sweet, or caring, dutiful, responsible etc. All these other blanket adjectives from people who never took the time to really know me and any complexities I had. And for some reason, I hated the idea of letting them down or their opinion of me diminishing. These were people who barely talked to me or I to them and yet I allowed them so much power over my life!
Who am I now without their approval? Exactly who I have always been. Their approval or disapproval didn’t change me. I wasn’t less because they no longer liked me. Facts: I am enough. I love myself. I have others that love me. Everything else is an opinion and isn’t necessarily based in reality.
I share this to encourage others. I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this. I suggest saying some healthy affirmations daily to replace the insecurity and negative self-talk in your head. Eventually, you will believe it. One day, you’ll find yourself believing in yourself without any words from outsiders. When that day comes, it’s a marvelous sense of peace and freedom. You are worthy of that. No matter what anyone else says. Make choices that you can look back on without regrets and that’s what matter in life–not the opinions of others.
Ah, this is another post that goes with my facebook video chat with Leenie Brown and Zoe Burton.
Help me, Jesus. I sometimes have to repeat this to myself multiple times a day whether it’s on social media or with my kids or husband. Think about it. If you’re reacting to everything that you notice and don’t like then it’s probably a negative reaction. Now, if you notice good things, feel free to spread the joy! However, there are times when you should not react even to the positive. Put your head down. Do your work. You can acknowledge it later at the appropriate time. These are things we learn in school as children but somehow as adults we have forgotten.
By focusing more on when you should react to something, you are empowering your voice. Weigh in when it matters. When you can change something for the good. Not a mere difference of opinion. There’s also no need to call out the guy who just can’t put the grocery cart in the corral correctly. Save it for when you see domestic abuse. Raise your voice when your representatives aren’t doing their job. React by donating to a local charity when you realize the childhood poverty in your area and Christmas is coming. Those are the reactions which pull us together, which build up, which create community.
For all those other annoying moments, take a deep breath and count to ten. If I’ve survived 14 years of marriage with only one of my husband’s socks landing in the laundry hamper per day, clearly I can survive another 14. There’s no need to passive aggressively mumble under my breath, to have World War III over it or spend precious energy thinking of some husband-proof hack. It is what it is and I can move along with my life.