I’ve been doing a lot of introspective work this last year and it has been a year of many revalations; of lessons that I have needed to learn and of reaffirming the sort of person that I want to be moving forward. It has been a tough going, some of this stuff has been difficult to see and once you do see it, you can’t un-see it and then have to do something about it.
Once of the biggest lessons that I have gotten from this work is that I need to let go; let go of my need for control, of people, of situations I can’t change, of ideas and expectations of myself and others. Letting go sounds easy but it is a really difficult thing to do, especially when it involves letting go of the people that you love and when it means that you have to change the habits of a lifetime.
I now know that I need to let go of those people close to me whom I am constantly trying to fix. I love my extended family and of course I don’t want them to ever get hurt or make mistakes and sometimes I think that I know better for them than they know themselves. It’s not a conscious thing, it is just how it has always been. As the eldest child, I am like a second mother to my younger siblings and I know that my opinion means a lot to them. I know that they feel a lot of expectation or pressure from me and I am aware that in the past I have imposed that on them.
Partly this pressure comes from the fact that by nature I am a bit of a perfectionist. I know that in the past I have flaunted my ‘perfect life’; my tidy house, my foreign holidays, my new purchase and my latest achievement and I understand that this can be hard for those around me to live up to. Ironically, the only reason I did any of these things was to mask my own insecurity. Surely if everything in my life is perfect, I would feel better about myself?
The thing is that even though I have been trying to change for a good while now and for the most part, I do better, it is hard to remove that old version of me from people’s minds. Even though I feel differently, they still see the old me. I don’t want that. I don’t want people, especially those closest to me, to feel expectation or judgement or anger from me; I want everybody who is in my company to leave it feeling nothing but love.
I’ve realised that the only way I can loose this version of my old self is to let go of them, to pull back and let them live their lives. No offers of opinion or advice (however well meant), not even any thoughts or discussions with others about how best they should live their lives. I want to remove myself from their lives and become invisible; not in the physical sense of course, but I don’t want them to sense any negative energy coming their way from me.
This is in no way a form of punishment towards anybody, I have just realised that I am not serving them by involving myself in their lives. It quite literally is none of my business; that is abundantly clear to me now.
In the past I have meddled and manipulated and tried to coerce but this last year I have seen the universe at work and when left to it’s own devices, everything works out exactly as it should be. I don’t need to get involved, in fact it is better if I don’t.
I have also become aware of the effect that my words and actions can have on other people. My idle gossip, forgotten as soon as the words have left my mouth, heard by the wrong person could have irreversible effect. Saying the wrong thing to or about a vulnerable person could literally be the thing that tips them over the edge. Imagine having that on my conscience; no thanks.
I’ve realised as well that I need to look at the effects that this has on myself. Every time I make a mistake with regards to somebody I love, I beat myself up about it for an inordinate amount of time afterwards. It doesn’t matter how much good I have done for that person previously or that it wasn’t a conscious thing (of course I would never consciously hurt somebody that I love), I go over and over the mistake I have made until I drive myself mad.
And the thing is, my family have, at times, done or said things that have upset me and I have forgiven it in an instant. I don’t hold grudges, I rarely think about it afterwards, it is forgotten. So it’s OK for other people to make mistakes but when I do it, in my mind it is unforgivable. I guess I also feel that expectation from them to be perfect and there is no way that I can live up to that. I understand now that I am human and that I can’t be perfect, nor do I want to be. I am trying to change a lifetime of conditioning and this isn’t going to happen overnight but I know that I am trying my best and that nine times out of ten I make the right decision.
I also need to let go of one sided relationships that are no longer serving me. I am an insecure person who just wants to be liked which means that I will try and try in a relationship even though it is clear to everybody else that it is over. I struggle to let go of people, it is an abandonment issue related to my parents divorce I think, and it has taken me years in the past to understand and accept why a relationship / friendship has come to an end.
I think that I have too much expectation and with that comes disappointment. As difficult as it is, I know that I need to practice having no expectation of people or situations. I also need to understand that sometimes people just outgrow each other or go in different directions; that it probably isn’t even about me. More often that not, people are going through battles that we know nothing about and to make it all about me is just egotistical.
The great thing about letting go of people is that it frees up so much more time to concentrate on my own life. While I am concentrating on fixing everybody else, my life is passing me by and my own family is suffering. It is very freeing to think that I don’t have to do this anymore. I can trust that people know what is best for themselves and that they have the strength and the know how to fix their own problems. Hopefully (no expectation) in time all people will feel from me is love.
In the mean time, I will continue on my own journey of self-discovery, aiming to be the best version of me that I can be and understanding that part of the process is making mistakes and learning from them. I know without doubt that all will be well and we are all exactly where we are meant to be.