People are not things

I was thinking about a friend that I have not seen for a while last night, Philip. Philip split up with his wife a long time ago, yet always held a sense of grief about it. He has since remarried but although he professes to love his new wife deeply, it strikes me that he fears losing her more than he actually loves her. He does everything for her, indulges her, is almost sycophantic, despite her being fully capable. Maybe he could love her absolutely, but he carries so much weight from his last relationship, so much fear of loss, that he is unable to.

Sometimes we treat people like things and it does not lead to happiness. A few years back I was in a relationship where I was indulged. I was treated with things, with adoration and it felt empty. I could have behaved however I wanted and I knew that this was not healthy for me or for them. I could have been anyone, and that reality was hard. I was only special to them because they required someone to love.

Now I am not suggesting that my behaviour is anything less than impeccable in relationships and clearly I am an amazingly lovable person, but to be aware that my presence was only required to endorse the other person was something new. To have allowed this to continue would have put me in a position of absolute power, and if you genuinely love someone, there has to be a balance that is free from that possibility of abuse.

In other relationships that I have had, I have been the one simpering, glad for any attention. It is a demeaning place to be where you feel rapturous for the slightest praise, the slightest endorsement. It left me with a sense that I wasn’t enough, not good enough, not kind enough, not anything enough. So I would up my efforts and it was exhausting. My health suffered accordingly.  I guess the other person must have realised the power that they had. It was something so obvious, but sometimes that is easy to overlook.

When my self-esteem is in a good place (like now) it is hard to see why I would have allowed such behaviour. But when you are feeling low, it is hard to see how badly you are allowing yourself to be treated. Similarly, if I need someone to worship me, then my self-esteem is in an equally bad place. Developing strong self-esteem for me was a long process but it has walked hand in hand with an increased sense of contentment with my world. I am allowed to define the parameters as to how other people can treat me, and I am not a thing.

Map Point. Where do give and take endorsement?

Choices and Success

In some areas of my life, I know exactly what I want, what I truly desire and this makes things really simple. It doesn’t mean that any or all of these things are easy, but it does present a straightforward path to achieving them. However, where I struggle most is when I have a lot of ideas because choosing the right one to pursue can be somewhat overwhelming.

If I offered you a certain bar of chocolate, your choices are clear, either yes you do or no you don’t. If I took you to a wall of a hundred different bars of chocolate and said that you could choose only one, the decision making progress becomes infinitely bigger than a simple yes or no. And that how I feel about a good deal of my life, what to pursue, what not to, and this indecision can be crippling for me.

For me, it’s almost akin to hoarding. I have a plethora of options, currently with my career and discounting anyone of them can sometimes feel like a massive loss, the avenue not pursued might have been the perfect choice. But this I know is also a trade, by fully embracing any particular option, I am allowing myself the opportunity to succeed. But maybe success can be scary too.

I have been pondering how schools reward children. In my secondary school, if you were good at sports or music, you were showered with praise frequently (as is the case in most schools), but in reality, only the select few will truly shine in either of these areas, and what about everyone else, who gets to watch something that they don’t feel as if they will ever be a part of?

Now on one side of this, hard work should definitely be rewarded, if someone has achieved then this is a good thing to celebrate. But on the flip side, no matter how hard some children work, they simply won’t attain this, thus, the situation for them could be seen as demoralising. Ways to counter this perspective is perhaps based on giving children the tools to build their own self-esteem, irrespective of what they achieve.

This brings me to the idea of risk taking. If we are confident is who we are, then the idea of success or failure is almost irrelevant, it is simply another lesson to absorb and move on from. But if we are too scared of the idea of failure, then success is that much harder.

I have a lot of qualifications, and a whole host of skills, a proverbial jack of all trades. This has served those around me, my adaption to succeed in a whole host of small ways. Recently, I have begun to contemplate what it is that I actually want to fully succeed in. The path is clearing.

Map Point. Where in my life can I shine?