In order to find clarity, we have to create clarity, which means some housekeeping. This part will require honesty and personal inventory. Afterwards, this will come down to an honest assessment of the company we keep. This will cause us to recognize some of our behavior.
But, let’s keep this simple . . .
We are who we are. Am I right? Or, is it more accurate to say that we are the sum of our surroundings? We are the boundaries we keep. We are the friends we have and the job we have. We are the total of our family influence and the culture we come from. Is this it?
How is a person defined? This is my first question.
My second question is where do our standards come from?
Of course, there is the obvious distinction between helpful and unhelpful people. There is the difference between moral and immoral, righteous and unethical, fair and corrupt.
But aside from morality, where do we come up with the standards of who we choose to include in our life? Where do we learn about friendships, business relationships and romantic relationships?
How often have we heard someone say, “Why does this happen to me all the time?”
How often do we see people walk themselves right into the fire and wonder why they’ve been burned?
There is the idea that if one person calls someone a duck then this can be a matter of personal opinion. If two people call someone a duck, maybe two people have the same opinion. Now, let’s say three people. Or, maybe even four or five. Let’s say even more people are calling this person a duck, what does this mean? It means that person must be quacking. Right?
Often, people find themselves in the same predicaments because of a certain subconscious program. This leads them back to the same person, place or thing. This is why people find themselves in the same relationships. This is why people find themselves in the same arguments. This is why old troubles continue to resurface and become new troubles again.
For example, there are those who constantly find themselves betrayed.
They’ll ask the same question. “Why does this always happen to me?”
Why do people who are giving by nature often believe they’re being taken for granted?
Or, more accurately, why do we believe in lies?
Why do we turn away from the warning signs and the red flags?
This is where the honest assessment comes in. This is where we look at our inventory and consider the truth within us. This is also where people who claim to be so giving come to the realization that no, it’s not giving per se. This is more of a trade; therefore, sometimes the trade doesn’t return as well as we hoped it would.
Here’s something else to think about:
When a person finds themselves in this kind of distress, what does this say about their boundaries?
For the record, no one is selfless if they give with the intention of seeing a return.
Therefore, people pleasing and offering gifts to make friends can often lead to disappointment especially when the desired result is not the result we achieve.
We live in a world where every job comes with a background check. Employers want to know everything. They check for legal records. They check credit scores. They check as much information as they can because after all, an interview can go well but honeymoon phases can be short.
If this is so, why should relationships be so different?
Why not learn more about a person and allow our interpersonal faith to improve gradually. This doesn’t mean that betrayal will never happen. However, this does mean while taking an honest assessment of our relationships, we can take better care of our personal boundaries and understand the possible limitations of our relationships.
It can often be said the quickness to trust is equal to the need for being accepted and wanted. This is a trade: My trust for your company, so-to-speak. My gifts for your gatherings. My worth for your company.
Our friendships are truly valuable. We are social but before we understand the value of our friendships, we have to understand the actual meaning of the word “Friend.”
According to the dictionary, a friend is an attachment to a person by sentiment or feelings of affection or regard. A friend is someone who “Gives assistance” or helps you, like a supporter, or someone who cheers louder than anyone else in the room. This is someone who is on good terms with another. And nowadays, a friend is a connection on social media.
This is the denotation of the word. To me, my friends are the people who promote me. They are people who I can confide in. My friends hold me accountable for my word and I do the same for them. Our relationship is equal, reciprocal and mutually beneficial.
I understand who they are and they understand me, without judgment and without keeping score.
As a person who struggled with codependency, I needed to be wanted, liked and included. I also found myself in unbalanced and unrewarding relationships. I found myself psychologically dependent on people in my life. Meanwhile, I was unhappy.
I was miserable. I never seemed to have that comfortable space. I was on edge. I was afraid to lose friendships or find myself out of the loop. More accurately (and honestly) I never wanted to be alone or rejected. I hated the ideas of not being included. I hated this so much that I always looked to include myself. This way, I wouldn’t feel lonely.
With that said, the one thing this robbed me of is while always including myself, I never felt the complement of being invited.
My connotation of the word friend has evolved. This definition has evolved at the same pace of my own transformation. I define myself differently; therefore, I define my friendships differently.
I no longer trade my time for company or to avoid being lonely or bored. I no longer give into the idea of being “Cool” or needing to fit in.
I fit just fine.
How about you?
I had to give this up. I had to cleanse myself; in which case, I chose to move away from whichever relationship hurt my performance or degraded my life.
This took a long hard look at myself.
There are times in life when we give and take. However, living an unbalanced life with unbalanced relationships creates a personal imbalance that becomes too hard to straighten.
I no longer have to breathe out just so someone else can breathe in. However, I am who I am.
Therefore, I am no longer the sum of my past because my past no longer exists to me. Then again, there are remnants of my past that lead me to great memories. I attach this to endearing times and moments of affection. These are things that I’ve chosen to keep with me.
I connect the smell of honeysuckle bushes to a good time in the summer of my youth. In fact, the smell of something, or a sound, or a song can bring me back to incredible moments.
But, in an effort to improve, I have learned to compartmentalize the difference between helpful and unhelpful memories. I have learned to label the difference between mutually beneficial and one-sided relationships. After some personal housekeeping, I learned what to keep and what is no longer needed.
I do not give my trust away without respect to my worth.
I do not find myself wondering “Why does this always happen to me?” anymore.
I have earned the right to improve my surroundings; but more, I have come to the mindful realization that my surroundings and my affiliation with people do not make me who I am nor will I let them.
Besides, this job belongs to me.
“You sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”
My Old Man used to tell me this.
So, what does mindfulness teach us about our friends and our relationships?
First, mindfulness allows us to understand more about “Self” and helps us remove the distractions of emotional thinking.
Secondly, this allows us to understand more about our personal worth.
So, someone who feels worthwhile would never invest their time in relationships that fell short of what they deserve. Right?
Do you want to know why people settle?
It’s because they’re afraid they’ll never find their dream.
On a personal note, I used to work with a person who took a job when they were young. This person was newly married. They didn’t like the job but hey, it was a paycheck.
They told me, “I figured I’d take the job until I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of his life.”
I suppose they didn’t expect the rest of their life to run by so quickly.
This person recently retired after almost 40 years of service to a job they had no passion for.
I am cautious now. I no longer forfeit my time, my passion or my energy to something as a temporary fix. After an honest inventory, I have come to the understanding that temporary stations can become permanent positions. I saw a person grow old and live a life that they never wanted for themselves.
And I thought to myself, “Is this going to be me?”
My answer to this is no.
I no longer assign blame nor credit to other people for my performance achievements. I give credit where credit is due. I no longer lose myself to the comparison of others. I do not find myself in mental bouts, arguing with myself or wondering “Why does this always happen to me?”
Again, I learned that I’m always going to be the square root to my own personal equation.
And as such, I have to care for these roots.
Otherwise, I’ll never grow.
Otherwise, I can wilt and fall.
Otherwise, I’ll grow old, retire, look back and wonder –
What have I done?