Depends on how you look at it.
The un-chosen, poorly-tuned, oblivious life isn’t very rewarding, so in that sense the oh-so-hard work is worth it. And, that’s life. If you want things (happiness, to be the big boss, a bigger salary, to live in a sun-drenched state), you will need to align yourself with the universe in such a way that you’re sending/receiving “I’m ready and willing and open” signals in order for the good fortune to come (‘good fortune’ as you define it, not necessarily ‘fortune,’ but a good harvest, so to speak). And in order to align yourself and your wishes with the universe, you have to take risks, change, and say No, thanks. ”Thanks for the gown, ring, and ride in your G6, but this isn’t feeling right for me.”
If you don’t say good-bye to an ill-match, how can you be available to say Hello to a glove-like fitting friend, business partner, romantic partner, manager, livelihood, neighborhood, etc.?
(We’re all pretending that I’ve posted recently, right?)
A friend shared this SF Gate columnist’s article, “Hello I Find You Perfectly Toxic” with me, and I thought of all of us.
Of beginnings, Morford writes:
You take that person to dinner, loan him or her a copy of “Jitterbug Perfume,” you hang out after work, you talk about the thrum and pulse of time, sex, dim sum, the universe. It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is what comes next. You exit said person’s company and you go home, sit down, take a breath, gaze inward and check the gauges. You ask yourself: How do I feel?
I thought of how far down the line we get in situations (being people who characteristically commit to a course of action, never mind its obvious consequences) and how we commit to situations that we actually find toxic. Our commitment defies reason, but we do it. What I like about Mark Morford’s piece is that he neatly parses the inner information we have from the way in which we react to the inner data. It’s a two-part deal: there’s the data, then our actions. For example, we may very well be able to sense in ourselves that we don’t feel terribly good after spending time with someone, but we don’t necessarily act on that information.
Why don’t we? It’s not that our toxicity radar is broken. (You’re not broken, by the way. You got a rough start, had emotional disadvantages, yes, but you’re not broken.) Our toxicity radars are in great working order. No batteries required. (Practice, yes. This radar is a muscle.) It’s our reaction to the radar’s information that’s problematic for us. (And, clearly, if you read the guy’s article (do — it’s short) you’ll see you’re not alone, very much not alone, and even Normal people have issues listening to their gut.) One reason for this is because people who grow up in chaos (whether due to alcoholic, narcissistic or otherwise non-present, inconsistent emotional children of parents) tend to be very Loyal. Our loyalty defies reason, but–and here’s the key: reason is irrelevant to perceived emotional safety. And when you grow up being and feeling what Mommy or Daddy or Auntie need you to be in order to manage their emotional handicaps, you exercise the loyalty muscle till it is Country Strong. When our loyalty muscle is stronger than our radar reader, we’re pretty immobile. This is why we’re “loyal where loyalty is undeserved” as I’ve written about in past posts.
There’s also the irony of civilized humans loathing change. We draw away from it (but obsess about it in others–watch how much you discuss the change around you). While humans are defined by change, we choose perceived safety over natural change. We rationalize. (Another word for that is denial.) We go, “Hmm. I don’t think I like this person, but she doesn’t really have any friends…” Or, “I dread time with my mother, but it’s the only way I get time with my sister.”
You know the drill.
Of our radar-reading Morford writes:
So we avoid. We complicate, make things messier, hang out in comfy numbness, let the mind get in the way and start asking all manner of unnecessary and stupid questions. What sort of energy are you speaking of? What do you mean depleted? Do you mean use this test with everyone? All the time?
If it’ll help you muster the courage to cut loose, tell yourself:
You don’t owe people your time
Life is short
It’s not your job to save someone
They’ll find other friends
Change appears scary, but actually feels very good
People won’t actually yell at you
You won’t be alone
New friends and new family-like people will come into your life
A chosen life is what you’re meant for, deserve, and must seize
Your courage will build upon itself
Your inner sense of what feels good and what feels bad is intact. Listen to it. Trust it. Hearing it isn’t what your parents wanted you to know how to do–but, who’s in charge now?
It’s your turn now.
-Be kind to yourself.