You just received a message from a friend asking for a favor. This has already happened more times than you wanted. You feel anxious and uncomfortable but you just can’t refuse. You’re not the kind of person who disappoints and lets other people down, are you? Defeated, you give in to your friend’s request. You have failed again to speak your truth.
What is your truth?
“You are always playing it safe. It’s ok to be honest on your feedback!“, a colleague said to me one day. I was a bit jarred. Is there anything wrong with that? “I like to keep everything in harmony as much as possible“, I thought to myself.
But at what cost? On the surface, everything looks fine, but when you go deeper, the story changes. A big dark blob of resentment is boiling below the mantle, waiting to explode.
This pent-up anger and resentment accumulates because you are not living your life in your own truth. In order to cope, sometimes we ignore our own feelings and accept what other people say and do to us. We don’t rock the boat to avoid confrontation. In reality, this does not eliminate the confrontation, it only diverts it from others into yourself. It always ends up as a fight inside your own soul.
There are things in the world that we can control and things we cannot. Even within your own body, a lot of it are processes and actions that are involuntary. In reality, there is not much we can control and influence in life.
This is why it is important to filter everything with your own truth. Let’s say you have a co-worker who told you that you are always sucking up to management. Would it make you mad? I think most people will be. But is it true or not? If it is not true, then why are you mad?
If you knew that what your co-worker said did not align with your own truth, then you should not be bothered at all. It is nothing but poison being thrown at you. We can’t control what other people say or feel about us, but it is your own fault if you pick up that poison and swallow it.
When there is a problem in your family or your personal relationships, do you act like firewood? It is commendable to help other people, but this is not what we are talking about. Helping like a firewood means that you provide your help to others by consuming yourself in the process.
While you will provide warmth for those around you, this warmth will not last very long. You will eventually burn out or even worse, explode and burn those whom you wished to protect.
Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm
A good friend once said to me that “You need to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others“. There is a practical reason why during an airplane emergency, they instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first before you place it on your child. A parent’s natural instinct is to protect their child first, but this will backfire with dire consequences. If the oxygen levels become too low, you will pass out before you can even fit the mask on your child. In this scenario, you will both perish.
It is difficult and uncomfortable to say no to people. At work, we sometimes feel like we have no choice, “Just keep your head down and work so your boss will give you a promotion“. At home, things are not much better. “We can’t refuse her request because she is a close relative“.
While being kind and agreeable are positive traits, these can be taken to the extreme. When that happens, we feel trapped, frustrated, and out of control. Each time we give in even though we don’t really want to, we bury ourselves deeper into a hole we dig for ourselves. After many years of this, we will eventually feel shut out and stuck in place.
Saying no (if you really want to) removes dirt from that hole. Restoring your self awareness takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you have been digging your own hole for years. If done consistently, you can eventually get out and re-establish your boundaries to the rest of the world.
Are you living your life with your own truth, or are you letting circumstances and others dictate that for you?
Photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash