Have you ever been madly in love with someone? Someone who meant the world to you and whom you gave your everything; someone you couldn’t imagine your life without. No, it doesn’t have to be this dramatic, it could be just about ‘anyone you’ve been afraid to lose’ (i.e. dear ones turning their back on you).
That someone could be your spouse, or a sibling, a parent, a child or a friend. It doesn’t matter who it is you are afraid to lose, if you’ve had someone like that or still have (could be more than one person) in your life, this article is meant for you.
Here in this article, ‘to stay married’ is used as a metaphor to imply, sticking with a relationship (any) for a long period of time, i.e. staying closely connected /emotionally invested in them; and ‘loved one’ ‘dear one’ is the one you stay married to.
Majority of us, from the very beginning itself have been taught to “value relationships”, and in the process, we learnt values such as sacrifice, compromise, adjustments, modelled by everyone around us, which have been considered to be noble values in order to “save relationships”.
Of course we all know, it’s trust, truthfulness, honesty, loyalty, understanding, co-operation, mutual respect, being helpful, displaying responsible behaviour, being there through each others thick and thin, that are the core values on which foundation of any relationship is built, however, ‘sacrifice’, ‘compromise’ and ‘adjustments’ somehow hog the limelight.
It’s been ingrained in us from the very beginning to “keep relationships”, and fear “losing loved ones” for we’d be doomed to be alone in the world; and so fearing ‘loneliness’, we continue to nurture unhealthy relationships, and stay married to them.
We have been taught to maintain relationships, irrespective of how unhealthy or toxic they are, because the society we live in, measures our WORTH or CHARACTER by our resilience to stay put and endure in order to save a relationship, even if it implies you crush your own feelings, stunt your own growth or completely wipe out your True Self in the process. And therefore, ‘sacrifice’, ‘compromise’ and ‘adjustments’ have managed to stay in the forefront as a prime individual contribution into a relationship.
No, please don’t take me wrong. I am not suggesting that these aren’t good values or need to be eliminated completely from relationships. It is indeed important that we value relationships, however, to what degree we must apply these noble values to ensure we create a balance in terms of creating beautiful bonds with our dear ones, at the same time continue to honour ourselves furthering our own personal growth, which makes all the difference.
Problem occurs when in the process of keeping relationships with others in tact, we neglect our “Authentic Self”. Perhaps because while growing up, we never heard anyone talk about valuing the most precious relationship which is relationship with ourselves, the “Authentic Self”.
We betray our “Authentic Self” almost all the time to stay married to our “dear ones”, for we are afraid to lose them. We abandon ourselves to seek their love and validation to feel good about ourselves and to feel valued. We become people-pleasers unconsciously, and strive to please everyone around us.
To avoid their criticism or judgements we’d go to any extent to make them happy; we’d crush our own feelings to honour theirs; we’d allow them to downplay our emotions and trust them blindly without questioning their motive, just because we can’t afford to lose them; we’d go out of our way at times to make them feel special and loved, only to find out later, it wasn’t valued as much as we imagined, and in the process, we neglected and betrayed our “Authentic Self”.
We kept listening to others around us and turned a deaf ear to the inner wisdom/divine guidance we all are born with.
Think about it, how many times have you crushed that little voice inside of you, just because you were afraid of being judged inappropriately by your dear ones, or afraid to lose them.
I now, invite you to recall all those moments in your life, big or small, when you wanted something for yourself, but your loved one disapproved of it, and you gave that up as you felt their validation was more important than your own inner being.
(a) When you were young, and you wanted to be a dancer/singer/artist/chef/model or something else that your heart longed for, however your loved one disapproved of that idea and persuaded you to follow commonly followed route, did you stand up for yourself or did you give in?
If you gave in and crushed your inner voice, and sacrificed your dream for your parents desire, you dis-honoured your “Authentic Self”.
(b) If you are a woman and wanted to work post marriage, but your in laws/spouse were against your decision to work and earn. Did you listen to your inner voice and continued to work after marriage? Or did you give-in, fearing their judgements/criticism?
By now, you are aware:
If you gave-in and sacrificed your career to “keep/value relationships”, you stifled your inner voice and dis-honoured your “Authentic Self”.
Or, even in case of small events, like:
(c) When a well meaning friend asked you to join him/her for just one drink, or one cigarette, even though you’ve resolved to give up these harmful habits; did you listen to your inner-voice which is warning you against it? or did you give-in to that friendly request?
If you gave-in and took that one peg/one puff, and compromised with your resolve, you dis-honoured your “Authentic Self”.
(d) When you visit your relatives/friends and they offer you “delicious food” but all that’s junk food; you tell them you don’t eat it and prefer healthy food, but they choose to jibe at you. or if you say you’ve already eaten and there’s no space in the stomach and you’d vomit upon eating more, but they manipulate you into eating more because “they have made all arrangements and they’d feel bad if you don’t eat”. Your inner voice continues to tell you to uphold your resolve and just take a bite and not give-in completely. In such situations, did you listen to your inner voice? Or did you give-in, fearing their judgements/criticism?
If you gave-in and ate plentiful, thinking we need to make tiny adjustments to “value relationships”, or you ate out of utter disgust and reaction, in either case you dis-honoured your “Authentic Self”.
Sometimes it could be simple situations like, your dear ones choosing to make fun of you in front of others or share your past stories with others, narrating silly events based on their perception, which you aren’t comfortable with, and you suggest to drop it or not repeat next time, but they instead choose to downplay your emotions. Or someone trying to manipulate you to accept it’s your fault that something happened/or didn’t happen, when it clearly wasn’t your fault but theirs; or ignoring your state of health (body pains/bodily issues) to host “unexpected guests” to show them how much you value your relationship with them.
These are just few examples of showing you how we unknowingly betray ourselves on a day to day basis, in the name of “valuing/saving relationships”.
If you don’t stiffen your boundaries with others, and let them get away easily, they’ll continue to take you for granted, because you are teaching others how to treat you, completely dis-honouring your Authentic Self in the process.
No one ever told us “disrespect” doesn’t look like physical or mental abuse all the time, it could very well mean others turning a deaf ear to our requests, or not respecting our boundaries or repeatedly taking us for granted. When our emotions rise up and we stand up for ourselves, they blame us for showing our emotions, instead of looking at their part in the conflict which could very well be the starting point.
No, I am not condoning rude reaction, and of course it’s important to work on our weaknesses and improve, with continued practice, however just because we “react” it doesn’t invalidate our feeling/emotion. And, don’t ever let anyone invalidate or downplay your emotions. Your emotions are valid!
Human Emotion is an energy entity usually felt within the body even before the mind/ego kicks in. It turns into intensified feelings only when it’s given meanings by mind-made stories. This is another topic altogether, and I’ll deal in a separate article.
The points mentioned in the poster below shows how to create healthy boundaries with people to ensure they don’t disrespect you, at the same time learning to respect others’ boundaries as well.
How do we learn to “honour ourselves”?
Practice setting boundaries. Boundaries are the key to self reclamation. Boundaries allow us to state our needs and gain the confidence that comes with honoring them.
When you’ve made your likes and dislikes amply clear (setting boundaries), yet certain people continue to disregard your boundaries for reasons best known to them, or downplay your emotions or ridicule you for showing your emotions, that’s when you need to go within, and enquire with your True Self, how comfortable are you to continue to tolerate such unhealthy behaviour and for how long, and why should you be tolerating it?
It’s not about blaming or criticising others for their behaviour, making any one person superior over another, or judging good from bad.
No! It’s not about them, it’s about YOU!
It’s about SELF-LOVE and SELF-CARE. Certain things may not be unhealthy for someone, but it could be unhealthy for you! You need to pay attention to how you feel about something within yourself.
Understand that people come from varied culture and backgrounds, raised in a different environments than you, and so they are bound to be different and think differently and have different perspectives towards things, and that’s okay!
What’s not okay however, is to stifle your inner voice for the sake of ‘saving relationships’ and continue to betray your own self in the process. If something feels off, and your emotions start to rise up, pay heed to it, it’s your body’s way of signalling discomfort.
Be clear about what is okay with you and what is not. Don’t give in easily to just save relationships. ‘Saving relationships’ doesn’t imply we “value” those relationships at heart. Sacrifices, compromises, and adjustments beyond a point become suffocating, and you’d one day unwittingly find yourself, bursting out screaming in order to be heard, or just turn your back on them for good.
Create healthy boundaries, be assertive while setting your boundaries, and let your dear ones know what you like and dislike, and what’s your threshold level to tolerate something. Be clear about what’s comfortable for you and what’s not. Tell them clearly what you think is beyond your capacity to comply with.
Let them decide whether they wish to value their relationship with you by respecting your boundaries (giving up their unhealthy practices/habits with you/in your company), or ruin the relationship because of their ego. It’s their choice!
“You don’t have control over anyone, but yourself”.
So, if you find that even after having clearly created boundaries with others, they repeatedly choose to disregard your boundaries, then, find the courage to ask yourself – do you feel expanded/energised or depleted in their company? And, depending on how you feel within, take appropriate actions.
Sometimes SELF-LOVE and SELF-CARE looks like taking tough calls like, removing yourself out of the equation, and firming up your resolve for the sake of protecting your energy, which is a sign of showing respect to yourself!
It’s only when you pay heed to your inner voice, you learn to honour yourself. And once you learn to honour yourself, you’d be able to maintain healthy boundaries with people around you, teaching them an important lesson that “respecting others’ choices and decisions apart from implementing the core values, is in essence VALUING RELATIONSHIPS”.
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