As I’m just weeks away from delivering my first child, I’ve been contemplating who I am as a person, who I want to be as a person, and who I’ve allowed into my life that will affect who my child becomes. I’ve realized that there have been times I’ve allowed hurts to rip me from my standards for myself. I’m ashamed of some of the things I’ve done and said when hurt. I’m disappointed in myself for letting go of people without giving them a fair chance. I’ve strayed far from my values from time to time throughout my life. It’s too easy to do. I’ve known that happiness is the best revenge, but haven’t always kept my focus there. Sometimes I want others to hurt how they hurt me. That’s not in accordance with my values, and feels wrong (because it is). It takes a lot of self-reflection to hold onto your values in the midst of hurts. When you’re facing trialing situations in life, disappointments from those around you, betrayals or heartbreaks from people you thought you could trust, you can absolutely maintain your values and self-standards no matter what’s going on around or within you. It takes mental and emotional awareness, work, and commitment, but you do NOT have to allow the failure of reciprocity to rip you from who you are. While others may not live up to your expectations, you are always in control of living up to your own. Your character can remain firm even when you’re on shaky ground. Here’s how –
Find balance in standards for who you allow in your life.
Something I have struggled with is that I have a very strict definition for the word “friend”. In the past for me to consider someone a friend, it means that I can fully trust them with the most vulnerable pieces of myself. It means that we’re compatible as friends on a deep personal level. Everyone else I would consider an acquaintance. I either trust you or I don’t. I either feel like you are an asset in my life or I don’t. Either I feel like we share the same interests, or we don’t. Either we’re friends, or we’re not. This philosophy is flawed, though. I’ve lost a lot of relationships or potential relationships because I felt like I couldn’t place them in this rigid, tight knit circle of trust or compatibility. I’ve distanced myself from relationships at the first sign of tension way too many times. It doesn’t have to be this dichotomous, either/or stance when evaluating our relationships. We do need standards when it comes to who we give our energy to, but we can also have flexibility and understanding that each person in our lives absolutely does not have to meet all of our needs. We can have multiple people in our lives that each serve a unique purpose. Some friends we can tell our deepest secrets to, some we call when we need advice, some we run errands with, others we may just have fun with. And that’s okay. The boundaries will be different with everyone in your life, and you get to decide what those are in each of your relationships. They can live in different circles. We can have our smallest, most inner circle with the people that we’d trust with our lives, and a large circle of people that maybe we don’t talk to about our problems or struggles, and levels all in between.
Release others from your expectations.
I notice I’ve been the absolute most hurt by others when I say things like “I would’ve never done that to them”. I’m very aware of and grounded in my values. I’m also very in touch with what’s going on for me mentally and physically. I strongly value treating people with genuineness, respect, transparency, wholesomeness, and truly wishing them the very best. I aim to ooze love, acceptance, and light. I want everyone around me to feel welcomed and included. Those are standards I set for myself. When I perceive that someone fails to meet one of those standards, I feel betrayed, and become guarded. It’s easy to then see other behaviors in that light, intently watching for patterns. This was a trap I created myself, that negatively affected both me and whoever else involved. I have had a really tough time communicating hurts in friendships and family relationships. In romantic relationships, I’ve expected disappointments, ups and downs, miscommunications, and deep hurts. I’ve easily forgiven mistakes in my romantic relationships that I would end friendships for. I haven’t, however, expected my friends or family members to hurt me in any way. Those rose colored, unrealistic expectations are unfair. Anyone we let into our lives, no matter their role, has the potential to hurt us, and honestly probably will to some degree at some point. We have to let go of how people should be, and come to terms with how people are. The people around me are all aiming to live in accordance with their values, not mine. Being my friend is certainly not the only (or most important) role they play by any means. When we expect those around us to make human mistakes or actually prioritize themselves in their own life (as they should), we’re going to find ourselves hurt a lot less.
Don’t take it personally, and give others some grace.
While I have high standards for myself, I know I fail. I know that it doesn’t always appear that I’m maintaining my values to others even when I think I am. I have some degree of social anxiety and awkwardness that could be taken as being standoffish or snobby. Some people have caught a snippet of a situation in which I wasn’t my best self. I can only hope that people have extended me grace in moments that have not been my finest. When we allow ourselves to unfairly judge others, we aren’t living in accordance with who we want to be. I think it’s fair to say that understanding is a universal value. If we want others to extend grace and understanding to us for being human, we HAVE to extend that to other people in all situations. We’re imperfect humans, and most of us are just doing our best. It is important to note that some people will intentionally hurt you, some people are incurably toxic, some transgressions may not be forgivable, and some relationships may not be reconcilable. You can’t control what others do, but you can control how you react. It’s important to be aware of your values, and lean on those when others appear to fail at meeting your needs. Use those values to choose a course of action in moving forward in a way that feels true to you – a way that you can be proud of.