I’ve often felt like life was a losing battle. No matter how often I would extend myself to those that I accepted as significant in my life, I found myself grovelling rather than being appreciated. Grovelling for attention or reciprocation that is. The more I extended myself, the less I was appreciated, which in some twisted way actually makes sense.
We take for granted that which is most readily available. We only appreciate and nurture things that we realise are precious and hard to come by. Otherwise we kick into consumerism mode and forget about the blessings at hand (I hate the fact that I can’t even use the word ‘blessings’ and similar words without feeling like I’m being a religious zealot simply because of all the scripture-thumpers out there).
Anyway, at the risk of sounding cryptic, I think that focusing on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of ourselves is more important than focusing on external factors that we cannot control. What I mean is the ‘what’ should be our decision about what is or isn’t truly important in the bigger scheme of our own lives, right? While the ‘how’ is our decision regarding how we choose to accept or achieve how the ‘what’ plays out in our lives.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if the focus is on making conscious decisions regarding what affects us, and learning to accept the things we cannot influence about the behaviours and decisions of others, we’ll find ourselves less often in a position to be trampled upon or taken for granted. This approach, whilst it took forever to realise, has worked well for me. At times it threatened to isolate me from people that I wasn’t willing to let go of, but it also made me realise that if I was significant at all to them, they would realise the potential loss and do something about it to avoid the rift from happening.
But the devil in all this is our often low self-esteem. When we assume that we’re not worth the effort, we become victims and martyrs to situations and desires that we believe we will never acquire for ourselves unless we sacrifice ourselves in the process. It’s a self-fulfilled unfulfilling prophecy. And if this is still sounding cryptic, it’s because that’s how life is. It’s the biggest puzzle we’ll ever try to assemble, which reminds me that the best way to build one of those massive 5000 piece puzzles is to start from the outside and work your way in. I think the same is true with life. We need to start by determining what our boundaries are, what we’re willing to compromise and what is non-negotiable. Once we have that nailed, we need to decide how we’re going to go about filling in the pieces that will complete us.
This all reminds me of a simple thought process I often share in my workshops with others regarding brainstorming. It comprises of three simple components, and talks directly to the puzzle analogy. Output, Method, Resource. If we start by defining what the objective (output) is that we desire, we can then understand what methods or actions would be needed to achieve it. And once we know that, it will be that much easier to determine the resources required to make it all happen. That’s the easy part. Once we have that plan drawn up, it takes courage and determination to act on it and make it happen. That’s usually where most of us suck because of that same demon called self-esteem. A healthy self-esteem really is the best gift any parent can give their child, ever!