I like to think I'm fairly transparent individual.
I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I still try (and sometimes fail) to adhere to doing and saying things I believe are the "right" things I should say and do. After all, once you say something or do something, it becomes cemented in time. You cannot rewrite history, and your past is indestructible.
Living in it can cause a great deal of angst, and anxiety. Trust me, I've traversed that road and it's not one worth traveling down. I'm not suggesting that you take on the attitude of "oh, who gives a shit what I did/said", I'm just saying that there's a better attitude to immerse yourself in that leads to a better version of yourself, than an attitude that keeps you muddled up in personal victimization.
I'd like to believe that the people who know me best can attest to the fact that I am transparent, and do my best to try and love and support them to the very best of my ability. That's generally a goal of mine, and one I work towards each and everyday in order to make my own life better.
I think it's hard to be terribly unhappy doing your best to love people to the very best of your ability. Because after all, if you squeeze and orange, what comes out of it? Orange juice. If what you're giving out each day to people closest to you is love, empathy, and kindness, then it kinda means those are the traits dwelling the strongest inside of you. You can't give something to people you aren't in possession of, after all.
This doesn't mean there isn't a caveat to all of this. Because there is. And it's about what and whom you're giving those emotional investments to.
From a very pragmatic standpoint, if I have a million dollars, and I keep investing it into stocks that I clearly see are declining in worth, and spend time researching them, KNOWING that the chances of my investments being lost makes me well, kinda stupid.
I like to think of our positive virtues in a similar fashion. We've only got so much love to give. And we have different types of love investments as well. The way I love cinnamon rolls is obviously vastly different than the way I love my kids. I love training. I love what it gives back to me in regards to health, how I look and how I feel.
So love itself cannot be encompassed into some singular idea because it's dynamic in nature. There's different kinds of love, and different amounts of investments we have inside of us for the things we choose to give it to.
Just because I love cinnamon rolls doesn't mean I'm going to eat them everyday. But I will wake up and choose to love my kids to the best of my ability all the time.
If I loved cinnamon rolls the way I love my kids, it would eventually detract from my quality of life. I'd get fat, feel like shit, look like shit, and my quality of life would decline immensely.
Where if I love my kids, there will be times of disappointments and suffering, the return on that investment improves the quality of my life a million fold.
This last month of my life has been filled with tremendous adversity. Possibly more than any other month of my life. I've been open about that because as noted, I try to be transparent, and write about it because well, I'm an average dude. And I think all us "average dudes" probably go through a lot of the same things, and suffer in a lot of the same ways, and search for answers and clues as to what to do with our life while mired in the mess of things.
I've worked exceptionally hard to try and keep a positive mindset despite all of this. Because I've lived long enough to know that no matter how hard the path we're currently walking down is, at some point the road does clear, becomes smooth underneath our feet, and....at least for a while...offers us a reprieve.
One of the greatest parts about arriving at the "smooth in the road" is our ability to appreciate it. To really inhale how great it truly feels, and just how glad we are to have arrived there. To turn and look back, and say goodbye to the road behind us. That we survived, and that in doing so, learned something. Whether that be all the things we know we want in our life, or don't want in our life, it probably served some purpose that, if we let it, can help us immensely.
But just like eating or not eating cinnamon rolls everyday, a huge part of actually getting off of the path that shreds the flesh from bone on the soles of our feet.....is choice. We simply decide not to eat cinnamon rolls all day long. And we simply decide we no longer want to walk down that path.
This doesn't mean it immediately happens. But it certainly won't ever happen if don't make a choice to stop walking down it.
And because my writing is long and drawn out most of the time, I will do my best to condense some of this and tell you that I actually am going someplace with the orange juice, emotional investments, and "roads we don't want to travel" metaphors here.
And that is this - often times, in fact maybe all the time, the reason we begin to fail in our efforts to find ourselves in the place we want to be, is because we refuse to actually remove others from that environment.
And that environment, is toxicity.
Have you ever known someone, who used to be something?
They used to be happy, or they used to be endearing, full of life and passion...or they used to be a friend that was there through any situation to help you. They used to make you feel loved, or that you mattered in their life.
Notice I asked if you knew someone that "used" to be something?
Because now, they aren't those things anymore.
Maybe that person is you. Maybe it's not. I don't know. I'm not all knowing. Hell, I barely know where I put my car keys half the time. That's always a fun time of day when I know I have to pick the girls up from school and I can't find my keys and I get this semi panicky feeling of "OMG my girls will be stuck at school for the rest of their life!" Of course I find them, and manage to accomplish my goal.
The last few days, I happened to end up reading a lot about toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic families. Toxic everything.
Funny enough, the fitness industry is loaded with "detox" methods for your physical body (which are all bullshit of course), but the one NON BULLSHIT version of detoxing, that really works, is the removal of toxic people, relationships, and toxic behavior in your own life.
If you want to find a higher quality of life, better health, a better sense of well being, and better "you" overall, then stop looking for pills or powders or diets that are going to do that. And start with detoxing your life by spitting out the poison that is killing you emotionally, spiritually, and even physically (stress), on a daily basis.
The one that is causing you to sink all of those millions of dollars into stocks that are crashing, and will end up sucking you dry, and leaving you broke. And that's most often the word you will find from people who have been stuck in suffering for too long because they refuse to rid themselves of these "bad investments".
"I just feel broken."
Because you are. Emotionally, you become broke. There's nothing left to give.
When your ability to invest in people with all of those dynamic versions of love and sincerity have been depleted, what is it that's left for people to squeeze out of you at that point?
Bitterness. Apathy. Discontent. Anger. Cynicism.
In all the articles I read about toxic relationships and such, only one addressed this very issue. That the longer you stay in those toxic environments, the more toxic YOU BECOME. I think this got lost in so many of the other articles because most often, people like to victimize themselves in bad situations without taking a long hard look at who they have become, and wonder if they too have simply "meshed" into the environment around them. Because that really is most often the case. And when you arrive at your own place of personal toxicity, there will be things that happen that should be obvious to you, that you have now become part of the very problem you're complaining about.
The friends you used to have, no longer want to be around you.
People tend to see you as unhappy all the time.
Your thoughts are consistently filled with negativity, and it becomes manifested in your words and actions.
Everything that happens to you, you take personally.
You consistently see yourself as being the victim, when in all reality you've made yourself one by refusing to make a choice not to be.
You've become toxic. You're now part of all of those "toxic relationships" you read about, that is apparently, ruining your life. Perhaps, some self accountability is in order here in that, the whole reason you "became someone else" is because you simply became just like the toxic people you kept within your circle.
That's generally how it works. What's that saying........
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."
Now this doesn't mean all five people are toxic. The odds are that are well, pretty slim. But it is likely, that the longer you keep the toxic people in your life, one of those five people will remove themselves from your circle, because they are aware of removing toxic attitudes, words, actions, and people in their life and don't want it. In essence, they were the ones that made the choice NOT to stay confined within that toxic environment.
And upon reading through all of these articles, the most common place they all kept coming back to for most people....was family.
California psychologist Sherrie Campbell, author of the book “Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.” wrote about this, and the fact that cutting ties with family is often the hardest thing to do, but if they indeed are the root cause of the toxicity in your life, then it's imperative to do so in you actually want to start improving the quality of said life.
One thing I think often gets lost on people about "family" is this.
They aren't special.
That's right, I just wrote that. Let it sink in. Or let me rephrase that.
They are just people. I'm only "special" to my kids because of my efforts to be devoted to them. Someone can adopt a child and become "special" to them because of the love, nurturing, and care they give in raising them. Their biological parents are not special in that way. Those things have to be earned.
And because "family" are just people, they too can be very unhealthy people to keep in your life.
Because of social ideologies and and phrases like "blood is thicker than water", most people grow up with this idea that family gets a pass on anything and everything they do to us, when there's no way in hell we'd allow anyone else to treat us that way and still remain in our life.
This doesn't mean to dishonor your family by being an asshole. It simply means that creating space and boundaries in regards to them may have to be done if you are to find yourself walking down the path of unhappiness, sorrow, and ridicule because of them. Because while you are walking down that road, that's exactly what you're probably going to be giving out to the other people around you.
As I said, now you too have become toxic.
Because I've already written enough, and I think that Dr. Campbell summed all of this up in a high level overview, I will just do a good ol copy and past with the link.
1. When the relationship is based in any kind of abuse, mentally, physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally. When the relationship is based in manipulation, overt or covert, you can be sure you are being used and abused. When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out, it is time to love yourself enough to let go.
2. It is time to terminate a relationship when the only contact you have with them is negative. The contact you have with them serves to bring you down, put you down and/or make you feel you are not good enough, or you haven't done enough for them.
3. When the relationship creates so much stress that it affects the important areas of your life at work, home or both. When your emotions are totally caught up in defending yourself and wanting to explain yourself and the chaos of your relationships with these people is all you talk about, it is time to let go.
4. If you find yourself obsessed with the gossip about you and trying to right wrong information, and you are constantly being ostracized to the point you are losing sleep over it, you are becoming poisoned with their toxicity. Gossip only serves one family member to get others to gang up on you and you are left defenseless against the false beliefs about you being thrown your way. There is usually a ring leader gathering the troops for the assault and because they are joined together, you begin to wonder whether it is you that is the problem.
5. When the relationship is completely all about the other person and there is no real reason why the other person cannot make any effort toward the health and maintenance of the relationship with you. One sided relationships are set up for your failure. When you realize there is never going to be an "enough" place for you to reach in the relationship, you need to let go and start to focus on your own healing.
6. When and whether the relationship is only about borrowing or needing money.
7. When crazy-making, no-win games dominate the relationship such as the silent treatment, blame-games, no-win arguments that spin around on you, there is no point in continuing in this battle. Verbal warfare is never the place you will convince them of anything and these kinds of verbal interactions are set up to be their way or the highway. If these are the negative consequences you receive each time this person or people don't get their way, it is time to let go.
To offer up my own story of what you just read, I too had a toxic family member in my youth/teenage years. My sister. Who became addicted to drugs, and I spent most of those years trying to save her from herself. Her behavior, like most addicts, was destroying and wrecking the serenity of my and my family's life.
Once I left for the military, and had my first child, I would still get phone calls about what all my sister was doing and it would leave me angry and frustrated. One day, my wife at the time finally told me what I needed to hear most.
"You have a daughter now. Your sister isn't your problem anymore. You need to let her do what she wants with her life, and whatever that is, it's not your problem anymore. Just let her go."
I remember that moment like it was yesterday. And it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.
If you're at home, and still under the order of your parents, then you should still respect and honor them as truly, it's the right thing to do. But all baby birds leave the nest. And if your family is part of what is making you miserable, then creating space and boundaries so that you can breathe and find your own happiness is what you WILL HAVE TO DO.
There's no other option. And the battle you will be faced with initially, is that they are going to fight even harder once you try to apply this resistance. Because they have probably spent years bullying you into doing what they want you to do, instead of respecting that as an adult, the choices you make in your life should be your own. Sometimes even if they are destructive.
Why do I write that?
Because ultimately we are the ones that are held accountable for our actions. In every fashion, in the end, we are the ones that have ownership for our choices and decisions.
But that also means that if you truly want to be happy, and after reading this realize that you too may have become part of the toxicity in your life, then the only way to rid yourself of it, is to snuff out the root cause of it, and decide you won't allow it to exist in your life anymore.
If you find the courage to arrive at such a decision, don't expect it to be easy. After all, you're the one who has spent all these years teaching people how to treat you. Yes, it is YOU who is responsible for it. People treat us how we allow them to. It's our fault if we keep bowing to it. And when you decide to get off of your knees and rise, and proclaim that your life is your own, then be prepared for an emotional onslaught. It WILL happen.
What also will happen, is the longer you stand your ground, and the longer you stop tolerating it, then eventually.....as you might expect, how they treat you will begin to change as well.
There's a very simple word to describe what that destination is.
And until you are strong enough to make these changes, then whoever it is in your life that keeps bringing you down, and bullying you emotionally, will continue to do so. Until there's nothing left of "who you were".
And then there's going to be a group of people you used to call "friends" sitting around one day, and you know what they are going to talk about?
Who you used to be............
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Thank you Paul, for being more than just a musclehead to look up to. This post inspired me today.ReplyDelete
one of the best decisions ive ever made is terminating the relationship with the women who gave birth to me. in turn it also meant the relationship with my sister and i ended(to be fair it was rocky at that point anyways). i still love my sister and hope the best for her. the women who birthed me? nothing but hatred. by ending my involvement with them a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, knowing that i never have to deal with them again. its allowed me to focus on work, lifting and the people who truly care for meReplyDelete