Break the mold before it bre/aks you.

Have you ever heard people say, “you’ve been cut from the same mold?”.  In other words you are almost a copy of someone significant in your life usually a parent. That’s only expected as members of families’ share the same genes’ and have grown up together developing similar habits and patterns throughout their upbringing. This sets families apart from others; it gives you an identity of belonging somewhere closely knitted amongst a big spacious world.

There comes a time in any family in which children grow up and begin to make their own journey discovering who they are on their own two feet. Deciding for themselves which parts of what they have learned means something to them. Whether it be carrying on a Christmas Tradition or other type of celebration that has given a family their own signature.

It is wonderful to appreciate our heritage and where we come from as a person. It gives us our own uniqueness in a world that doesn’t always appreciate the differences in people.

How about the molds people put us in?

As parents we may put expectations on our children which restrict them to be themselves. We may place our vision of the future onto them expecting that they follow a path we have chosen. We think we know best! The child may feel unable to wander into a direction that is not in line with what you as the parent have been dreaming of. Of course as parents we have every good intention for our children. We want what is best for them. We ourselves have traveled through life making mistakes hoping to prevent those same mistakes from being repeated.

Perhaps you are your own worst enemy?

We don’t always need people to place restrictions upon us. We can quite easily manage that for ourselves when we keep holding onto the things that didn’t work out. Our failures can keep us believing we will always fail. Our disappointments and hurts keep us stuck in the same place perhaps for years.

We are after all creatures of habit? Settling all too easily into patterns of thinking and behaving which keep us comfortable. We all like comfort. That place of familiarity and comfort can be dangerous. Especially if it involves a relationship with someone who repeatedly breaks you down until you turn into a person you were never intended to be!

If it isn’t enough to deal with our own negatives voices in our head we often have other people’s voices guiding our next move. If you have ever been in a long term relationship with someone who causes you emotional harm and has managed to manipulate your life you would be familiar with what I am talking about. It’s quite frightening to stand on your own two feet breaking out of the mold of manipulation. Your own sense of knowing has been lost along the way, as you’ve been made to feel like you don’t know what you are doing. The ocean of doubts can be deafening.

Now that I am six months into this journey of single mum no longer in a damaging marriage relationship I’m discovering on a regular basis all of the restrictions that have kept me from being myself. At times it may feel like you’re never going to relax and have the freedom of knowing who you truly are. It takes tonnes of courage to do things you may have never done before for fear of it not working. Almost like an animal that has been locked up in a cage for years and when set free the animal chooses to go back in the cage as it feels comfortable and safe.

This is precisely why unhealthy relationships can be so damaging to a person. It isn’t something to joke about or make light of as it is so much more serious than one can ever imagine. It is very difficult for a person who has been so broken to bounce back again, as they have to fight through every imaginable lie and fear to get to the other side of where freedom is waiting for them. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve had to battle with all sorts of thoughts and fears.

I can however encourage you by saying that as you just keep moving through each fear one by one they start to lose power. Yes it is frightening! Yes it is very uncomfortable! And YES it may or may not work out as there are never any guarantees in life. Yet you have the choice to risk it and step out of that place of doubt and failure testing the waters for something opposite to what you have ever experienced.

We often believe we deserve the same as what we have always had. It gives us an excuse to stay the same and keep holding onto our fears. Until we decide to do things afraid we will stay where we are and never move forward. As much as I could so easily settle and remain the same in my comfort zone I know it will continue restricting me. I may still carry hurt that needs healing however I’ve discovered that the more I choose to break out of the mold of manipulation and emotional hurt from my previous long term relationship the more I am experiencing healing.

If I choose to stay where I am perhaps the healing will have no opportunity to present itself?

What does healing look like?

Well for me healing is noticeable as I become aware that I am smiling a lot more often rather than feeling anxious and stressed out. I’m learning to trust people and myself again. All those dreams in my life that got squashed for some time are slowly bubbling to the surface reminding me that there is still hope to fulfill the purpose I was created for. Confidence is returning, confidence in my choices and decisions.

In times past I would have lost momentum and motivation in a heartbeat as my life circumstance taught me that while something might be going well for a week it won’t last as drama is only around the corner. It was a constant cycle of ups and down’s. I could have sat in a field of flowers picking petals one by one repeating the phrase “life is normal, no it’s not, life is normal, not it’s not”…..

What’s trying to break you?

Embrace who YOU are…

Today’s internet gives us access to information from all sorts of places. From the personal blog page (like mine) to the more professional websites providing advice to individuals everywhere about topics such as; being your true self. When I was younger I don’t recall hearing about the topic of being your true self very often, if at all. It was perhaps the biggest issue that I struggled with from a very young age.

OK so not everyone is struggling to be themselves… There are those that have no second thoughts about living life to the full and enjoying who they are. These people have less holding them back as they are not concerned of what other people think. They are focused on their goals and continue pushing through with or without resistance. It would be safe to say they are comfortable with who they are so people’s opinions don’t really concern them so much.

Unlike these types of people who can keep going with or without resistance since I was younger I always cared about what people thought of me. The minute someone let me know they didn’t like me my reaction was to hide similar to a turtle going back into its shell. The idea of someone ‘not liking’ me sent me deeper into my thought life. My thoughts were consumed with trying to understand what made me unlikeable! I often wondered how anyone could say they didn’t like me when they didn’t even really know me.

How often do we make judgments about someone based on their appearance or personality and assume what that person is like? We are all guilty of not taking the time to get to know people before we all too quickly judge them as not worth knowing. It would be better to give people an opportunity to show who they are, as not everyone can be themselves in an instant. For some people it takes time to warm up to others before they feel safe and uncomfortable to be truly themselves.

Taking time to warm up to someone was how I eventually expressed more of my true self to people. I hid behind my insecurities and vulnerabilities. I needed to know that I was safe to be myself before I could allow others to see me for who I was. Naturally my personality is more on the introverted side, although some people have told me they believe I am actually an extrovert in hiding.

Either way I do take my time to show people the real me, the real me that expresses herself with laughter on many occasions. My words may be few in conversation yet I do take thought into what I say and like it to mean something. I’m a deep thinker and I feel everything. I’m often found analysing people and wondering what it is that makes them tick. I watch their moods and consider whether something may be going on that is troubling them?

My nature is sensitive, caring and compassionate. It bothers me to see people upset or hurt. This is the reason why I took up studying psychology in the first place. My heart is to help and support others in whichever way I can. Usually I simply listen. I don’t always have much to say. I listen and do my best to hear what people are saying. I put myself in their shoes to try and understand what life is like according to their experiences.

Being such a sensitive and emotionally in tune person wasn’t always something that I embraced. There have been many occasions in which I had wished I were less sensitive & louder. Why louder you may ask? Throughout so much of my childhood and adulthood I was often described as the quiet one!!! When I was working in a homewares store several years ago they had an end of year Christmas Party. All of the employees got a small gift that described the type of person they were seen as. Naturally in theme of being thought of as ‘quiet’ I got a tiny little mouse which was to sit on the dashboard of my car. I was handed the gift in amusement by the boss stating “this is for you Anu, you’re always so quiet, so we thought we’d get you this tiny mouse”.

AHHH once again, quiet Anu!!!!

To try and get rid of that identity was never going to happen. In much the same way as actors who have started their careers when young try to convince their audience years later that they have  grown up.

The downside to my personality is that I don’t find it easy to confront people when needed. Although this part of me has grown over the years. I can all too easily let very important issues slide. While I know the issues are there and they bother me for fear of confrontation I can turn a blind eye for far too long. This obviously worked against me in my failed marriage. Had I been able to stand my ground at the very beginning of my marriage perhaps things might have been different?

It is through all of my painful mistakes or failures that I have learnt more about embracing myself for who I am. No longer does it bother me so much that I am sensitive or compassionate. I love being sensitive and compassionate. It allows me to be there for people in so many different circumstances. I don’t just listen, I hear!

Having been in a very difficult marriage has taught me to stand up for myself. I have learnt that I do have a say and my thoughts are important. If a partner isn’t going to value me for me then why keep painfully hanging around hoping for change when change never happens.

Please hear me out!

I’m not talking about the normal marriage issues relationships have, I’m talking about the damaging unhealthy patterns, the ones that involve psychological or emotional abuse, or for some sadly physical abuse.

As we start out in life we have strengths and weaknesses within us that make us who we are. Throughout life these strengths and weaknesses become sharpened. We learn from our experiences and become better at putting these parts of us to good use. It is almost as if life starts to balance us out as we get older.

To be our true selves I don’t think give us a licence to run over people. I don’t think it means we do whatever we want, whenever we want it. That speaks of selfishness. Living life to please oneself alone is unsatisfying. In much the same way I don’t think it gives us the freedom to tell people what we think whenever we get the urge. Everything needs to be done in the right way with the right heart.

If in embracing your true self involves disrespecting people or treating others as ‘nothing’ then I would say that there is something wrong which needs to be looked into.

If we are genuinely embracing who we are,

we automatically embrace others respectably.

Afraid to Feel ….

When life has hit you with a massive blow leaving your feelings scattered on what feels like a hot and dry desert it is difficult to phantom ever to pick those scattered pieces back up again. Feelings that have been left out in a desert to dry up and be forgotten like a ghost town in an olden day cowboy movie leaves you walking around as an empty shell. All of the equipment to keep you functioning is still present however those ‘feelings’ you once held close have settled back in time where everything  went wrong.

To feel makes you human! We have been created to experience emotions from devastated to ecstatic. Usually experiencing more of the in between of both extremes. Whether it be a moment in life that left you devastated or an ongoing battle that leaves you exhausted, those feelings or emotions seem to be in what I can only describe as ‘protection mode’. To feel gives you the potential of being hurt. When you have been hurt enough you start to NOT want to feel.

It is almost like an automated version of yourself keeps doing everything necessary from day to day yet holding back from allowing to ‘feel’. You may struggle to let yourself feel happy, positive, excited and adventurous.

Regular disappointment has a way of scaring you into a corner, reminding you that if you allow yourself to be happy you may get disappointed all over again. Once you have experienced enough letdowns in life it is difficult to believe for anything to change? You become accustomed to life not working out for you. You begin to believe that life only works for other people.

Nearly six months has passed now from personally experiencing a devastating blow to every part of what makes me…. ME! As I sit here thinking about the past six months and every moment that has come and gone such as Christmas and New Year I recognise that it’s all a bit of a blur. While I know that I have in fact been going through all of the motions to get by, I’m also aware that my feelings have been on holiday in that dry desert back there in 2016.

Those pieces of myself that are still back in 2016 are waiting for me to go back at some point to pick them up.

How long that will take I have no idea?

I may experience tiny glimmers of happy feelings now and then yet I know that the most part of me is still back where the hurtful event took place.  A couple of months ago I told my counsellor that I find it hard to believe I could ever be happy in the future. She went on to say that when someone has experienced A LOT of disappointment in their lives or relationships it is only normal to feel as though it is impossible to ever experience HAPPY! She continued by telling me I should just dip my toe into different situations and allow myself to feel happy.

It is scary to consider the possibility of being happy. It is so much easier to sit back here where the feelings are protected from any further devastation.

Perhaps as more time passes those long lost feelings once held close, the ones that make you, YOU, have the courage to come back. Once those feelings return do we have the courage to hold on to them or do we send them back to where they were for so long?

It is good and healthy to guard our emotions, to not allow for them to be misused or misplaced in the same way. From my perspective having experienced such hurt and betrayal has left me wondering if it will ever be possible to trust again.

When significant people in our lives have left us hurt and broken it is only understandable to remain guarded for some time. The time it takes to bring those guards down who knows? There are no rules for how long it takes to heal. We are each unique in our personalities and experiences so what may take someone six months to heal could take another twelve months.

While I had thought most of my sadness had disappeared I’ve been surprised at how unexpectedly the tears can invade any given moment of my day. The important part to this is that we allow ourselves to experience those moments of sadness. Tears themselves are healing.

It’s OK to cry.

It’s OK to admit that you can’t do it on your own.

It’s OK to have a lapse along the way.

It’s OK to not feel OK.

Of course we are going to hurt when devastating situations happen in our lives. To not hurt would mean we have no feelings to begin with. Everyone has some experiences in life which impact our sense of self. We feel trapped in the fear that it may happen again. Somewhere along the way though comes a time in which we must accept that to live life to the full we need to take risks. These risks don’t need to be huge ones simply tiny ones to begin with.

With every tiny step (risk) you can rebuild those areas that have been lost such as; trusting in others again. We have to believe that not everyone out there is going to hurt us the way someone else has. It’s wise to take it slow in any sort of relationship whether it is a new friendship or potential partner.

There is still good people out there!

Good people will be supportive of your journey and appreciate the fears you may have in trusting again.

You may feel as though you have lost yourself, despite that reality continue to interact with others as they may help you to find YOU!

Life can hurt so I’m keeping it REAL…

What’s NOT in your control….

Just imagine for a moment a world in which everything was running smoothly. No bumps on the road called LIFE! People were nice to each other all of the time. Respect, trust, honesty and love roamed the streets 24/7 with the same intensity as peak hour traffic in some of the busiest cities around the world. This type of a world would create rare sightings of the elderly seen struggling to carry their heavy grocery shopping to the bus stop by themselves. Perhaps the forgotten SMILE would become the latest trend sending beauty parlours broke, people no longer relying on expensive treatments to be beautiful. Shoppers would give way to each other while the worker behind the checkout acknowledges each customer with enthusiasm and genuine consideration. There would be less murder, crime, divorce, anguish, depression, isolation, loneliness, anger, jealousy, rage and so on.

What would your perfect world look like?

It isn’t possible to experience a perfect world in which everyone including ourselves live perfectly. This type of perfect world simply doesn’t exist. The fact of the matter is its people that make up the world in the first place. We all know that people don’t always consider respect, trust, honesty and love to be that important. Some people put themselves as number one! In that case there is no consideration of how their actions or behaviour affects another person. We all have the same potential of thinking only of ourselves rather than thinking through how our actions may impact someone else. We may occasionally slip up and then make adjustments after we realise our mistakes. Generally we all learn from our mistakes. As we travel through life we start figuring out what NOT to do. Then there are people that never learn from their mistakes, always blaming others for issues that stem from their behaviour.

Most of us realise that if we want ‘our world’ to be peaceful and loving we need to be conscious of how to live our lives in such a way that creates this experience. The only control we have is over our own actions and choices. If we want to have friends and long lasting relationships we treat people accordingly. Simply put you are not going to have many people wanting to hang around you if all you do is leave them feeling hurt. Of course there is an element of hurt that happens from time to time in any relationship which is how they usually grow and move forward. However, if on every encounter the main entertainment is ‘hurt’ then I would say it was time to reconsider the dynamics of that relationship.

We cannot control other people’s choices or behaviour as much as we cannot control the weather! On a rainy day we do have the control of using our umbrellas so we don’t get soaking wet. If you happen to live in a very cold climate during winter you have the control to put on plenty of clothing to keep you warm. In contrast if you happen to live in a HOT climate the less clothing the better! We dress according to the weather. We may choose to use the air conditioner to cool things down at home on a hot humid day. Or on those cold days sit in front of a nice warm fire place drinking a nice warm cup of your favourite drink.

In other words no matter what the weather throws our way we have the control of making our own environment whatever we want it to be in order to live comfortably and happy.

It’s the same with people! We can’t control what they do or don’t do BUT we can control how we live our lives thereby creating a peaceful environment. When someone hates on you like pelting hail you can choose to move by taking cover. You separate yourself from them by getting out of harm’s way. If someone in your life suddenly becomes icy cold towards you then you have the choice to control how you respond in order to stop your own heart from freezing over. When I think about an angry person I associate that to the hot sun, these days people avoid getting sun burnt knowing the risks and dangers we are regularly informed of. I’m not talking about someone who has had a bad day and gotten angry and frustrated. I’m talking about someone who has anger issues. Someone that lashes out verbally on a regular basis or worse becomes violent. It is never right for someone to treat another person with that type of physical or emotional harm. Again you have no control over a person that behaves in that way BUT you do have the control of walking away and looking after yourself in order to avoid potential danger or harm.

No matter the weather forecast or a person’s behaviour we have the choice of creating our own ‘peace filled world’ each and every day.

We can choose to be happy despite our circumstances or environment. It’s a matter of letting go of that which we can’t control. That can be difficult for some people. The idea of letting go has always been something I’ve had to work on over the years. I’ve never been one for handling situations outside of my control. It was only a few years back that I finally settled things within myself and recognised that people will do whatever they want. That I shouldn’t take it personally or to heart when someone chooses to do something that may hurt. That it is not my fault. If I’ve done all that I know to do then the other person has the same possibility of doing the right thing. If they choose not to then ‘it’s outside my control’.

Life is going to happen whichever way it will as much as the weather is going to happen however it chooses.

Know when to enjoy the sunshine and dance in the rain. Let go of what you can’t control and live a life free from other people’s behaviours good or bad, hot or cold.

Is the Price too High?

Call me a penny pincher if you must but I’ve always been a person that doesn’t like wasting money on something I want or need to buy. I’m the sort of person that likes to investigate the options available with the hope that I can purchase an item for much less elsewhere.

This Christmas my shopping was minimal due to my peanut budget and life change, I held back on buying an item for my nine year old as I wasn’t satisfied with the cost. Waiting and sweating it out saved me some money which was exactly what I was hoping for. I happened to walk into the store on an unexpected ‘one day sale’. My patience paid off as I managed to buy my sons main Christmas present for less.

How much of what we see in shops is overpriced?

Assuming for a moment that I lived with more than a peanut budget, I don’t think it would change how I feel about wasting money. For me it is a matter of principle, I just can’t bring myself to pay more than I should. I know full well it won’t be long until a particular item I looked at buying will eventually be marked down. When I can buy something that has been marked down a sense of satisfaction leaves me feeling content as it results in saving some money. My bank account isn’t emptied nor do I need to sit at home regretting my decision.

In reality clothes are clothes, shoes are shoes, toys are toys and so on…. The differences between the cost of clothes for instance is determined by where you are looking to buy them. Designer clothes are going to cost you more than the clothes you buy from a department store. Most people are satisfied that designer wear will cost them more. They are willing to spend on the quality of the material and its design as it’s not merely an item that has been stitched together only to last for a few weeks. That being said I’ve never bought designer wear! I can see the sense in spending more on quality I’ve just never had the money to do that.

Where am I going with this you might be wondering?

As I was thinking about the idea for this blog I thought about how much I have paid in my relationships over the years. By relationships I refer to any type of one, whether it is a marriage, girlfriend/boyfriend, friend, sibling, parents or associates.

In terms of relationships I’ve always found it more difficult to recognise how much I am willing to pay. There is always a cost in terms of your time, energy and other resources we all have access to. Relationships require an investment from you. It isn’t about money but rather a giving of yourself to someone. Depending on the type of relationship determines how much you give or invest into the other person.

Often times though it doesn’t matter how much we invest into someone the other person may not be as invested into us. It could be a friendship in which the other person is only thinking about what they can get from you.

It reminds me of a time years ago when I lived in Sydney. I had a friend that used to ring me pretty much every day. She often called me and spoke for hours. I had young children and plenty of chores to do throughout the day yet somehow I was willing to give hours of my time to this person. I thought I was doing the right thing? However over time I began realising that she was only focused on herself and draining me in the process. I got to a point in which I had nothing left for my own children. I was oblivious to the fact that she was constantly taking from me everything that I had. She wasn’t satisfied with her life and found it hard to make the necessary changes for things to change! Her life was going around in circles and while I had good intentions I was also going around in circles with her.  I needed to jump off that ride!

I was exhausted on every level; emotionally, mentally and physically…..

There is nothing wrong with being there for a friend however you need to consider at what cost? Sometimes people only want to hear what they want to hear!

In a marriage relationship you are invested completely. All of who you are is shared with another person. For a marriage to be successful both partners need to invest completely. It isn’t enough for one partner to invest emotionally when the other may be holding back. Eventually the one giving emotionally will start feeling empty.

We often hear people say that you need to keep yourself happy. Yes that is true however if you are in a relationship with someone and your significant other is not providing anything back the relationship will lose connection and intimacy. For a relationship to work it requires both partners to take the time by investing into each other. Putting in zero investment equals zero return!

Money is important and we should take measures to manage it as best we can but what about the other resources such as; our emotions, heart, physical and mental state.

Do we continue investing into a relationship until we are so empty that we can’t even take care of ourselves anymore?

I do believe in loyalty and commitment in a relationship. I’m also aware that in many circumstances and in different seasons you will often find yourself investing more into a relationship than perhaps you are getting back and vice versa.  However there comes a time when you need to take a good look at things if you are falling apart and unraveling into a nervous wreck. ….

Not every relationship needs to fall apart.

Some do and some don’t.

Mine did unfortunately!

I can however live with myself knowing that I did everything possible for far too long in trying to make something work that was never going to move beyond certain foundational issues. These issues were damaging and unhealthy. The amount of times that I personally experienced high levels of anxiety and stress due to the relationship should have been enough to wake me up. I was so determined to “do the right thing” that I overlooked areas I should not have ignored. It got so bad towards the end that I had what I believe to be a nervous breakdown the night before exiting the marriage. I had well and truly reached the limits of what I could take.  There was nothing left in me, I was completely empty. My heart had closed off and I was aware that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to repair the damage that had been done. The price that I had already paid up until that point was enormous.

I appreciate the difficultly in coming to terms with a partner not being as invested into a relationship with you as much as you might want them to be. Consider how much you are willing to pay in order to keep trying. If the cost sends you bankrupt with no hope of recovery it’s time to pay attention to what is going on. The longer you ignore the issues the more damage occurs.

Perhaps when issues are sorted earlier rather than later there is more hope in restoration?

Again that depends if both parties are willing and wanting to have a great relationship. In my case I went above and beyond for many years with no success.

The results speak for themselves today!

It isn’t hard to accept that quality items are going to cost more financially as much as quality relationships are built on both partners investing everything of themselves.

The question is whether the relationship is one of quality? Is it a genuine and healthy relationship? Or a strained unhealthy damaging relationship?