For much of my life, I have placed high expectations on others, their behaviors, and their actions. I overwhelmingly believe people will do their best, be their best, and be good (overall). Sometimes this notion is exhausting; as I grow older, I see that people do whatever it is that they are going to do.
My expectation, for example, of a student performing his/ her best can only inspire them if they allow it to do so. Likewise, my hope that a friend will be a good friend in return will often prove true, but sometimes people do not actually meet your expectations.
Now that I am approaching 30, and reevaluating much of my life and choices thus far, I am struck with the notion that if everything is a choice and I'm making mindfulness happen in my daily life to have a healthy, positive, and happy life, then how could unnecessary interactions with negative, hateful, or toxic people possibly have a place in my life? The answer is: they don't.
Being mindful is not some hippie notion of ignoring mistreatment. It is not about living in fantasy or denial. Mindfulness is not stupidity or demeaning your self-worth to continue in a relationship that is not positive, regardless of the investment of time/ money/ effort.
Yoga, Buddhism, Christianity, and other wonderful belief systems contain a large element of love and acceptance. Love is essential to a healthy, balanced, and happy life. Love is about trust, truth, support, and generosity of time/ spirit/ understanding. Relationships, however, that constantly make you question your worth/ sanity/ dignity are not relationships worth having. Because you have no control over the actions of others, you must come to an awareness regarding those with which you surround yourself. If, for example, you are continuously lied to by a friend, would you choose to continue that friendship? Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, would, in a perfect world, discontinue that relationship and therefore cut out the lies.
This is the case with all human relationships. No one has the right to mistreat you. Most of the time, when we think of abusive relationships, we consider romantic relationships--boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, lovers. These can elicit strong emotions and strong reactions from us. These relationships can be blissful, fun, and deep--they can be harmful, damaging, and difficult to escape--or they can be any combination. What we are far less likely to consider, however, is how these same attributes can potentially be present in any/ all of our other relationships.
Friends and family members are meant to support you, cheer you on, and cheer you up. If a friend is constantly violating your trust, using you, or making you feel bad about yourself, that is no friend at all. Similarly, simply being born into the same family as another person does not give them the right to blatantly and/or deliberately mistreat you and disregard your well-being. If you have tried to work through issues and constantly receive poor treatment from those who should care about you most, you might consider ending the relationship. You deserve better than that.
Being mindful helps you to realistically evaluate your life and determine who you are, what you want, and how you want your life to go. If you, like me, have come to an age where you don't want to be surrounded by perpetual (and unnecessary) drama, perhaps you should contemplate who you let into your life and who you let go.
As cliché as it may be, Kenny Roger's advice is not only perfect for gambling (ha!), but also pretty perfect for mindfulness and toxic relationships:
You got to know when to hold 'em,
know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away
and know when to run.
It is hard to let toxic relationships go, but if you do, you will find that you are able to heal. Self-acceptance and self-love are important to building a healthy, positive, and loving life. The idea is spreading the love and leaving the weight of hate and hurt behind. Cutting out a toxic relationship, just as any bad breakup heartache will tell you, does not have to be a hateful experience; you may be hurt, but eventually, you may see it was for the best. If you apply that knowledge to all relationships, you will allow yourself to find the peace you deserve.
Labels: March Mindfulness, Mind & Body