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.

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?