I’m turning 35 on Saturday (I feel very grown up all of sudden if not slightly panicky that my thirties are going by at high speed) and as I’m regularly asked by readers to share ‘rules’ or ‘principles’ I live by in my own life to continue growing my self-esteem and being happy, I thought it was a rather apt time to share my ‘personal commandments’ – these are guiding principles that I live by that help me to live by my boundaries and values, help guide me to personal growth, and keep my life low drama.
Be myself. It really isn’t all that bad being me. It’s great actually as at least I know which way is up and when I do adapt, I’m not doing it based on false information. The worst times in my life have been when I’ve tried to be who I think others want me to be and when I’ve pretended to be happier than I feel. Being myself also means that by developing boundaries and values, I have my own distinct identity instead of identifying myself as the person who is the daughter with a father who is X and a mother who is Y. Or identifying based on my work or how liked I am by others or whatever. Basically my identity is no longer displaced in others which means my whole world isn’t about to come crashing down if I experience ‘rejection’ in any of these areas. Be you.
Listen to me. I have spent a year practicing to listen with patience and compassion to my own thoughts and body after struggling with tinnitus and vertigo. Listen to you.
Passive aggression is a no-no. I’ve found that I can deal with NO or even ‘rejection’ but what will do me in is the whole actions not matching words and trying to get me to guess without that person putting themselves out. I know exactly who is passive aggressive in my life and I try to keep its impact on me to a minimum. Recognising passive aggression has actually helped me to overcome my fear of conflict because I just can’t bear the indirectness plus it’s also helped me to see that people really have their own issues and conflicts and it really isn’t about me. Cut the passive aggression.
Don’t fear NO. Is it a pain in the bum? Yes sometimes, but at least I know where I stand plus I have less and less of a problem saying NO because if I don’t, I drown in Overdoing It Central. If I didn’t say NO but really wanted to, I’d end up being passive aggressive and showing it in other ways and I don’t like it being done to me, so I don’t fear NO even though it may bring conflict. Don’t fear NO
I live by the I Don’t Give A F Principle. It doesn’t mean that I don’t give a hoot about anything but I can tell you, I don’t lose sleep over not being liked especially as it’s most likely to happen with people I don’t know, value, care about or respect, so why go there? I can’t be liked by everyone, I can’t please everyone and I can’t torture myself over so-called ‘ideals’ of what being a woman is ‘supposed’ to mean or look like. I also don’t run around telling people about themselves because guess what? I wouldn’t like it being done to me. Stop trying to be liked by ‘everyone’ and focus on being liked by you.
Own my own and let others own theirs. This leaves me free to be responsible and accountable. I refuse to take the blame for Other People’s Behaviour and I don’t get caught up in projection. This has been at its most beneficial with family but it’s also helped me make peace with my old relationships because I could get on with addressing what I could control, me, instead of absorbing the blame for ‘everything’ and feeling victimised by my own thought process. Own your own and let others own theirs.
I’m practicing gratitude. I can moan for England, something I’ve noticed recently. I’ve decided to cut down the habit – *cough* from tomorrow because Nia has played me up something else while we’ve been here in Amsterdam! Yeah moaning makes for some entertaining conversations, but it makes an actual good day look bad, or clouds out even the smallest of good, and actually, recognising even the small things can dramatically change a perspective. I’m so glad that my life has changed so much over the past 7 years but I have found myself having a need to practice being present and to even just pause and take in what’s around me. Find a couple of things to appreciate each day – we spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have. Practice gratitude.
No selling myself short – I must be proud of me and associated with my achievements. This is something recent as well and I’ve found that many of my female friends and readers are disassociated from their achievements as well. We don’t shout about what we do, we hide our lights under our bushels, and we seek perfection and are our harshest critics. I get emails and phone calls from people (as in friends, acquaintances etc) going “Er, I had no idea that you write Baggage Reclaim” or “Oh my God! I have a friend crying here in my house with a book with your name on it! WTF?” I appreciate every expression of gratitude, the big squeezy hugs from readers, the recommendations, yet, I still get nervous every time I press publish and it’s taken me 34 years to realise it (jays us I’m feckin 35 on Saturday) but I have to tame the perfectionist in me and breathe. I also have to learn to make more noise about myself. No selling yourself short.
If I can say it behind your back, I can say it to your face. I’ve lived by this for a several years now, particularly because I work primarily online, where truth be told, some people are not what they portray themselves as and they do a lot of talking out of their bottoms. I don’t mind a gossip, but actually I don’t do much of it. I don’t write things online that I can’t say to someone’s face, I don’t get involved in the bitchiness and ganging up, I don’t post my business up on Facebook or live on there, and I don’t get into slanging matches. I’m the same ‘in real life’ so it spares me a lot of drama. Be honest with respect and take the chit-chat out from behind closed doors.
I’m on a low bullshit diet. I‘m not good with fluff or lies. It’s not that I need my life to be straight no chaser, it’s just that if I engage in denial, rationalising, minimising, assumptions that haven’t been sanity checked and excuse making, I’ll be a very unhappy person and I can’t pander to other people’s BS either. Keep the BS low.
Laugh a lot. I can laugh about a lot of the things that in the past used to tear at my soul. It’s good to find the humour in life. I’m not ignoring any feelings or playing down anything, it’s just that sometimes, when you see things for what they are without putting yourself in the centre of it, they can be very funny. I don’t take myself too seriously and if I’m not laughing that much, I know that I need to chill out. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living enough.
Your thoughts? What are your personal commandments? If you don’t have any but would like to, based on your experiences and wanting to grow positively, what will yours be?