I was reading a blog this morning titled “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself”. It is a wonderful little list of insights that I have, for the most part, applied in my own life. Mostly. Have a read later via the link below and see how many you have got sorted and how many you should probably take a closer look at.
One that really stands out to me as a recurring lesson from my past is number 19:
“Stop letting others bring you down… Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”
This particular habit of adapting and altering my expression of self has taken many forms over the years, all of them self destructive and ultimately ineffective.
Many times this has involved a complete compromise of being my best self. It has included a variety of dangerous behaviours, law breaking, unhealthy lifestyle habits, gossiping and basically just going with the flow of the group I was trying to fit into. And sure, I fit into those groups perfectly, at the expense of no longer fitting into myself. The reason this is so damaging to the self is that I stop liking myself and in particular because this has occurred largely at a subconscious level. Before I know it, I have become a stranger to myself, lost and wondering who I am and why I just never seem to be happy. I question the meaning of life, because I have lost my natural connection with it.
Ironically, during these times I often believe that the only happiness I feel occurs at the time that I am engaging in the very things that are taking me away from myself. I suppose this is because these are the times that I receive love and approval from the people I have surrounded myself with. They feel great that someone is accepting and reflecting who they are choosing to be, affirming that their expression of self is valid and right. Yet this all happens at the expense of my own expression of self and who I am choosing to be by default. This is exactly when I need to ask, ‘Do I love and approve of myself right now?’ This is how I can see that I am not honouring my self and hopefully raise the strength to make a different choice.
Making a different choice, one that is true and authentic to my best self, often is an unpopular one. The people around me, assuming to know me better than I do, will often react unfavourably to a different me. They don’t seem to understand that the me they ‘know’ is a me that thought love and acceptance came from the outside. A lot of the time this is because they are also receiving their love and acceptance from the outside, in part through my friendship and compliance. If I can remember this, it allows me to move along my own path with strength and compassion towards any unfavourable reactions. And sometimes it means letting go of people or situations that just don’t fit with who I want to be.
I really don’t think that the changing tides of people and situations in my life is in any way a bad thing. In fact, I truly believe is a good and positive result of the changing nature of myself. It is one of life’s few guarantees… That as I change, the world around me changes, in both big and small ways. And when I think back to who I was being twenty years ago, ten years ago and even last year, I am grateful for all that has changed. It seems that as time goes by I get closer to my best self. And if I find I moving away from that, I just stop and observe, then make a different choice.
It is so easy to get caught up in the trillions of expressions of self in the world. But the only one worth losing and finding yourself in… is your own. Honour thyself.
Read 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself here.