I’m a fan of the come down after New Years, because rather than abstract ideas of how things are going to be different, we’re tested in real-life, and the discrepancy between what we want and what we’re living becomes apparent. It’s that time of year again where we can check ourselves; we’ve either committed to change, or realise we’re going through the same patterns just for the sake of it. Einstein said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, and hopefully we’ve at the very least recognized what is or isn’t working.
A consistent theme in my world, and the world of others close to me, is the importance of setting boundaries. Specifically, that though there is power to the word ‘yes’ and what we allow in our life, I’d like to pay attention to the underrated sibling; that is, the power in saying ‘no’. There are many variations of this, here are a few that I’ve heard (and advocate for): “No, your sporadic affection isn’t enough, I deserve someone who shows up and thinks I’m Christmas;” “No, I need to do something for myself for once” or “no, I deserve friends who make the same effort in my life as I do in theirs.”
I am an advocate for second chances and for forgiveness, and am not a fan of cutting people out or disappearing at every uncomfortable situation (if we did that, we’d be forever alone), but there are certain things I have come to realise I see in black and white. Cheating, for example, is a big one in my books, as I am more of the (apparently) controversial opinion that if you cheat on your partner, you do not love your partner. Moreover, I’ve seen people who suffer at the hand of poor relationships, all with an undercurrent of not being given what they want, need, or deserve. I had an elderly family friend who told me the rather crass saying he grew up with about letting people treat you a certain way; “if you let someone s*** on your head, the next time they’ll s*** in your mouth.”
Obviously, this is extreme. I am certainly not saying that all situations or people require you to run for the hills, and I generally believe that people can change. I actually like the Bob Marley quote that people are going to hurt you, so you’d better find the ones that are worth suffering for. However, when there is no sign of change, when situations come at the expense of your self-worth, your functioning, and your insides screaming ‘not this again,’ it may be time to think about how you can write a new story, instead of replaying the words of a chapter that just aren’t aligned with you anymore.
Firstly, recognizing what we’re contributing to the situation and what we may need to work on is the first step. Combining this with our non-negotiables provides the insight to filter the things you do or don’t accept, which means that the stuff you can manage gets through and stays in your life. However, that doesn’t mean it is going to be easy; walking away or saying ‘no’ to situations you have been a part of for a long time (and maintaining that change), is essentially reprogramming your brain, which takes time, effort and commitment. Change feels counterintuitive partially because you’re re-training yourself to do things differently, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong.
When we’re making changes that are for the good of us, there are moments where we just have to trust the decisions we make, consider how they align with our values, and trust that our souls will feel at ease once the uncomfortable part of change tides over. The process of movement towards what we want or feel we deserve can be a challenge, but re-writing our story can start with what we don’t allow as much as it can with what we do.