Here’s my first blog. I wasn’t sure how to start, so I decided to do what has always felt right - to tell stories about my experiences.
Here’s my story for today.
In my book, I conclude that the key to changing life patterns and avoiding toxic relationships is to know and love yourself, to recognize the origins of your pattern and to change your behaviour, rather than trying to change others. If you know who you are and what you value most, you will know what you deserve.
So often we make life choices for the wrong reasons, perhaps because a certain job will enhance our status, to please someone we love or wish to impress, because we are so repressed we have lost any sense of who we are, or just because we are lonely and desperate for affirmation from the outside world. I’ve done all of these things and none of them made me happy. From this process I’ve learned that the most important thing is to be your authentic self and trust your deepest feelings and intuition.
I was reminded of how important this is the other day, when I was talking to someone who had an important career decision to make. I had been acting as her mentor for some time. It had not been easy for her to make this decision and she was put under immense pressure by her employer to stay, though for some time it had been clear that the job she was in wasn’t for her and was making her unhappy. Her employer tried flattery, persuasion, implied criticism and coercion to persuade her to stay; someone told her to write a list of ‘pros and cons’ to help her to decide what to do. She rang me in turmoil to ask for advice and I encouraged her to do the opposite, listen to her heart and think about her life in general, not just her job. With help from her kind, wise and supportive partner she was able to speak her truth and decide to move on to the new job which is so clearly right for her and her family.
Her description of the tortuous process of making this decision reminded me that any relationship can become dysfunctional, and we can lose our authentic selves and become entrapped by the desires and neediness of others. I was so relieved that she had the strength to resist and to trust her deepest aspirations and feelings - in the end she remembered to have compassion for herself and chose the life she deserved.
When I met with her it was immediately clear that a great weight had lifted; she looked and sounded joyful and filled with light. It was so uplifting to see the change in her. We reviewed our working relationship, the many joys and challenges we had explored and faced and the respect and liking for each other which had grown out of it. Though this relationship will change through her career move, we will maintain a friendship built on shared beliefs and values and a deeper mutual feeling of affection. I left the meeting with a sense of profound gratitude for the privilege of working with her and the many things I had learned through that journey.
There is no still point at which your life will reach a point of stability and perfection. It’s a famous Buddhist saying that ‘life is suffering’ and although life is clearly also sometimes joyful and rewarding, it’s important to accept that you will face challenges from time to time. Working on understanding your patterns and the origins of your behaviour, making life choices based on your beliefs and values and trusting your intuition will ensure that when the challenges come, you will listen to your heart and know how to protect yourself.