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Seven years ago, I engaged in a late night conversation with someone I used to be close to about negative experiences in life. We both went through a lot in our then- 14 and 17 years, and I told him my then-motto, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” “Huh?” he responded. I explained that I always have hope, but nothing ever turns out right in the end, so its good to keep both options open. “That’s no way to live through life, he responded.” I nodded and the discussion went on.
Years later I think back to this conversation, and notice how everything’s changed — literally nothing is the same as it once was, in both good and bad ways. However, my way of thinking expanded so much, that I’m nothing like how to I used to feel, think, and feel because I didn’t really know myself. Now that I basically had to go through hell to get to paradise, I know now that this person was absolutely right — having a catch 22 standard on life is no way to go through it. Yet it is inevitable that bad things happen to us all; even the nicest people in life get put through the ringer at one point or another, and its tough. Its one of those grey areas in religion, philosophy, and science that might not ever make sense. However, while there are some things that we human beings cannot control, we can change the outcome simply by using our heads.
Everyone knows the story of Rumpelstiltskin and how he helped the maiden spin straw into gold. What if I told you that you could do this with anything negative that has happened in your life? Even some of the darkest things you think you can never conquer or forgive. While we all have free will and the freedom to choose, I highly recommend using some of these tips and techniques for turning your negative experiences into positive ones.
3.) Realize the opportunities presented.
When I broke up with my ex both times, it felt like my world came crashing down and was utterly destroyed. It took years to get over the pain and devastation from losing this person, who was not only my long-term boyfriend, but my best friend, too. Yet the fact of the matter is I couldn’t help but realize afterwards I realized, “wait! I have time for myself again!” I went out with my friends, took my sweet ass time getting tasks and errands done, shopped for myself, etc. I could also do and wear things he wasn’t too keen on. See what I did there — I spun it around to myself, but in a positive matter.
What can you do? Your kid started school, they went away to school, you got dumped, you did the dumping, you lost your job, car, blow dryer, etc. You have what you see as loneliness, but that loneliness has the potential to be transformed into solitude. Go for a walk or hike. Read a book. Rock that treadmill at the gym like never before. Better yet, do things that you love and enjoy yourself. Learn to enjoy being alone and treating yourself. Your time is now — so go for it.
2.) Take the higher route
There’s a lyric from the Grateful Dead song “Scarlet Begonias” that I love — “once in a while you get shone the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” One thing that I’m been reading about with the law of attraction is that obstacles come upon us when we’re manifesting what we want. I see them as proof of this lyric, little “tests” from the universe, our responses showing how much we have or have yet to grow(n).
About a few weeks ago, I was tested, and I wrote about the outcome here. Since then, I got another test, since that person is online again and I saw was stalking my Facebook. What did I do? I blocked them — I don’t need that kind of negative energy in my life, the disguise of “goodness” does not change anything. However–unlike the phone call–I only told two people about this — my two best friends. By the way, they’ve never met yet (I had them talk once on the phone and we’re planning on all getting together sometime this summer) and both have somewhat of a sixth sense — they had the same gut instinct on why this person tried to contact me and was viewing my page, and, yes, it correlates with that Grateful Dead lyric. This made me even happier than I didn’t give in to anger or negativity, simply blocking the person and moving on. And yes, I thanked God, too, since I would’ve fallen into the trap without the knowledge I have now if this were years prior.
So what’s the moral here — take the higher route and be the bigger person. Don’t let it ruin your day. There’s another saying that “when you find humor in a difficult situation, you win.” Unleash that funny bone! For me, it’d be the situation discussed above would be like Anne Boleyn stalking Catherine of Aragon on Facebook in the afterlife. Another example is the day I found out my previous position was being eliminated, I treated myself to Shake Shack afterwards. Don’t let the negative vibe ruin your day — crush it and spit it out with a more positive one that makes the day even better. So what’s the moral here? See the light in the strangest of places and turn that frown upside down.
1.) Let go of fear
This is the thing which holds has back the most. When we unleash this emotion, our worst case scenarios run amok throughout our minds. We don’t want to see the light because we fear it can’t come out; we refuse to feel better because we fear good and feel like we deserve only the worst. But you can’t be afraid all the time — it doesn’t help, only adding more negativity and bad vibes to the given situation present. If you don’t let go of fear, you become a self fulfilling prophecy, and that’s bad. As someone who dealt with a once confident and mature person going down the worst road imaginable because he was so afraid, insecure, and didn’t know how to let those emotions out, I change vouch this cycle being not just toxic, but heartbreaking, for your loved ones, too.
So what can you do? If you’re afraid, you’re afraid, but communicate your fears and find means/outlets to control them. Paint, write, surf, draw, go for a walk. Maybe just eating a burger or going for a sightseeing drive will do the trick. The key is putting yourself and your mind at ease without going crazy. Plus, you never know how far you’ll go until you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone in certain situations. He didn’t want to travel? Well now you lost that excuse to go with your best friend on that trip to Europe. She hated the city that you loved and always wanted to indulge? Well now you can go there. Know what, screw it, you might as well move and get a job there. Most of all, think you couldn’t succeed without this person, job, house, car, etc., and see how far you’ve come since being without them.
And if you’re afraid you’ll never see him/her/it or be back there ever again? God, the universe, whatever you want to call it works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, its for the best, but others just for a little while. Never say never. Till next time, nameste 🙂
Cutting off a connection is never easy, especially given the love human beings can develop over time for one another. Whether its a family member, friend, romantic partner, spouse, etc., the point of the matter is that sometimes things run their course and “click” between two people that was once there is gone. Added to the fact if there’s a negative, toxic person involved, whether it be one of people themselves or a third party, all the span of all things, whether good or bad, ceases and stops.
10.) When you can’t wait for one of you to leave first.
Its normal if you’re having a crazy day/week and can’t wait to get rid of who you’re with and relax in solitude or if you’re having an argument and want some space. What crosses the line is when the only thing you look forward to when being together is leaving. This shows your focus on seeing the person is afterward like, “finally, they left, I don’t have to worry about this again for another week or so.” This leads to sign #8, but let’s get to #9.
9.) When you don’t care about not seeing them.
Life happens where we have plans and our plans get changed or interrupted. Its fine not to care about not seeing someone if circumstances like work, family matters, emergencies, etc. come up because you know there’s an important reason and you’ll see each other soon. However, its not cool when you have no legitimate reason to be around someone, giving them false hopes of hanging out or talking when you honestly couldn’t care less. This is not only cruel to yourself since you’re hanging unto a shoe you should toss into the ocean, but to the other person who is the shoe in this metaphor, too. Most times when we experience this notion, it goes hand-in-hand with #8.
8.) When you view contact with them as a chore.
Its like Sunday dinner at Nonna’s — you’re expected you go, whether you like it or not. However, unlike most Sunday night Italian dinners at 2:00 pm, there’s no enjoyment you get out of this speaking/gathering anymore. Maybe you don’t even honor this chore because you want it. Perhaps you do it because your friends/family likes them, not you. Maybe they were different in the past, but are strangers now. Either way, if this is the only reason you have anything to do with the person in question, its not a good one.
7.) When they try to monitor everything you do.
Ever see that Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo where James Stewart tries to remake Kim Novak into Kim Novak? First off, yes you read that right, watch the movie to understand, and that’s exactly what this is. From choosing your chores, hair/makeup, interests and mannerisms, they won’t let you do anything without their approval. You even have to watch what you see around them in fear that they’ll disapprove and it’ll cause a fight. Yet God forbid it was the other way around. No relationship of any kind should be this way.
6.) When you feel better apart than together.
This sentences hurts. Imagine the person you love, but you can’t stand being around them. When you’re alone, you feel free; when you’re together, you feel chained, trapped like a prisoner. This is always a tell-tale sign of when its best to move on, whether people just simply grow apart or there’s a negative influencer involved. It sucks thinking its best to do, but in the long run will be fine once you listen to your gut when you’re alone and let go.
5.) When they listen to negative people over you.
You’re not the only person in your person in question’s life; they have other family members, friends, S.O. (if its not your romantic partner/spouse), perhaps even children are involved. Unfortunately in most cases, many people have bad, negative influencers in their lives. They can range in relationship from a family member, friend, S.O. (unless the exception noted previously), co-worker, acquaintance, etc. Nine times out of ten, the negative influencer is a horrible, nasty person who is so insecure they insert themselves into and mess up other people’s lives because they’re so dissatisfied with their own, which they ignore in turn. Most times, we see their true colors before our person in question does, and conflict arrives every time we try to tell them. Eventually, you might feel like the bad one and not the negative influencer since you try in vain to tell your loved one, but they ignore you and make you feel bad. Perhaps they need time to cool down, or perhaps its time to go. Either way, the negative influencer’s true colors will show themselves in time. If a good person, your loved one in question will tell you you’re right, regardless if you’re in each other’s lives or not.
4.) When the relationship’s one sided.
If its always what they want to do and not you, its time to go. If they can do something, but you can’t, get out. If they’re controlling and have all the power and you have none, leave. Simple, said, done.
3.) When you’re constantly feeling superior/inferior around them.
Its normal for people to mature at different paces. However, some people never change and will always be their immature selves. If you feel this when you’re around them and their ego makes you feel better or worse then them, get out honey because its only downhill for you both from there. It’s worse sticking with someone like this because they’re going down, and taking you for the ride right along with them.
2.) When you no longer feel like you can be yourself around them.
This reason hurts. As Jim Morrison said, “a friend is someone who gives you freedom to be yourself.” If you’re with someone who doesn’t allow you that freedom, they’re not your friend. They think they are, but they’re not, because a friend would never do that. Chances are they’re just using you for something, whether its a free ride or just someone to yap off to. If we stick with people who lessen our sense of self, we not only repress it, but question and forget who we are in the long run. This affects ourselves, as well as the other relationships we have around us. Learn to let go before its too late.
1.) When their true colors show.
I had an acquaintance from high school who quickly filled the role of replacement best friend when my BFF and I were on the outs for two years. I originally started talking to her because she seemed nice, shy, and innocent — but it was all just a farce. Yet, if I never really got to her, I never would’ve realized this. Between year in a half to two years later, she served a large role in the disintegration of my relationship with my old boyfriend, being the “other woman” involved. However, I should’ve known her duplicity before that.
A few months after we begun talking more, I moved to her lunch table and got involved with her friends more. Those close to me know I have a raunchy sense of humor, and I wasn’t aware that not everybody likes that. Needless to say, I made an enemy out of one of the girls. It ended in a battle of wits behind one another’s back until I was “kicked out” of the lunch table, and simply went back to my old one. There I realized the reason for leaving was foolish and wrong — I moved to the other one because I “didn’t like” some of the people at mine, and for no reason at all. I got to know them more, and saw that they were good, genuine people, and I felt horrible for shunning and making fun of them beforehand. I also started to see that this person held more back then she originally led.
What happened next was over a year of he said/she said, backstabbing, making comments and saying I said them, copying my mannerisms, behaviors, wardrobe, and hair styles, and, the biggest cherry popping of them all, fooling around with my boyfriend, and claiming they were in a “relationship” before I left, both times, and in denial of being the one thing she ever truly was — a mistress and, after I fled, a knock-off replacement.
This was in 2011-2012, and it’s now 2017. A few months ago, I was reconciled with one of my friends from high school, ironically this person’s ex-best friend. Just as she was the filler for my BFF, so I was for hers. But unlike mine, she and hers never fully reconciled, and she destroyed that relationship all on her own. My friend never made peace with what happened between them, and seeing how I was the only other person who was able to get close to this individual, wanted to talk to gain some closure. What happened was a revamping of said individual’s true colors to the both of us. Not only did she pull the same “she said/he said” crap with her, too, but she instigated the same lunch table wars and routine of kicking out and blaming it someone there was a disagreement with, too, — when they were in the third grade.
Third grade — she repeated what she did to hurt and confuse someone in the third grade in junior year of high school. Before all the Single White Female stuff, it all boils down to that; the lunch table incidents showed what she was truly like. That’s why not everyone is who they might appear. Does this make everyone bad like this person? No, not everyone is like her, but some can be. Some already are and we don’t even realize it. The point is, if someone is a bad person and not treating you right, get them out of your lives before you’re past the point of no return. Its like performing an operation with the anesthesia wearing off; do it before you feel every little thing.
Most importantly, don’t feel bad or discouraged by this list. You are worth it, and you can perform said task if you must and move on with ease. If I can do it, you can, too.
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man/Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
- Polonius, Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare
I’m not here to discuss a dissertation on this famous phrase. Instead, I intend to combat it into a central theme in this blog– self-awareness. While it may be hard to believe, the hardest time we ever have getting to know something isn’t our distant relatives or the lucky person we’re crushing on; its us– ourselves. Why is it so difficult to know yourself? Aren’t just people who are ill solely in this category? Think of it this way– we’re always doing what other people tell us. Whether its our parents, siblings, friends, boss, co-workers, significant other, etc., our role is constantly to please others. Regardless of whether we enjoy catering to others to not, we still space the image of ourselves through everyone else’s eyes except our own. When we don’t take notice of how we act towards ourselves and others, we are not self-aware, although we can be aware of others.
Often times this leads to confrontation, whether minor or major, and we are in denial of our character based on feedback on others. Some of us take a step back and realize the situation, others keep their foot down, refusing to admit guilt. Yet nine times out of ten when we apologize and say “I can change,” we’re not doing it for ourselves, but for others. We’re constantly trying to mold ourselves into other people’s visions rather than our own. In fact, many people find it impossible to visualize themselves without the important people in their life. This is normal and totally understandable, but we must remember that we are more than just so-and-so’s child, friend, partner, employee; we are ourselves, uniquely and beautifully, and no one can take that away from us. Ever.
So how do you become self-aware of who you are? What do you need to do? Step one, and perhaps the hardest step of all, you need to be alone. This is perfect for anyone who is going through a breakup or experiencing death. Does that mean lock yourself up in your room and avoid human contact? No, of course not. It simply means do an activity by yourself– go to the city, the beach, the country, on vacation. Notice how you feel by yourself. What are you craving? What do you want to do that you couldn’t do with others? Give into the cravings and do what you want; eat the pizza, go dancing, swim with dolphins. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or others, do what you must for yourself and have fun with it. Notice how you interact with people; you’ll see some things in yourself you never noticed. A perfect example is if you use kindness, kindness will find its way back. Along with that is also don’t take anyone’s shit. Its no secret that they’re not too fond of Americans in Europe, depending on the country and city/region/town. While my fluency may not be strong, I can speak basic Italian and Spanish, and I fully understand the former. While stopping with friends in Benetton, I simply said excuse me in Italian as I passed a worker. He started laughing at my New York accent, remarking “De nada, de nada,” which means “you’re welcome” in Spanish. I looked at one of my friends and said, “That’s Spanish.” The man remarks giggling like a five-year-old, “No, no its Italian.” He thinks he’s smart.
“So Italiano e so Español,” I remarked. “Un poco– ma io so.”
That means in a combo of the languages that I know Italian and I know Spanish, a little, but I know. His stupid grin faded, and he waltzed off. So what’s the meaning? Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself; get over the fear of looking like what someone else, not your, might see yourself as. You just feel better in the long run and it makes you a stronger person.
That’s Step 1– spend time alone, notice how you interact with people, and be nice but take no shit. Now Step 2– notice yourself around people you usually surround yourself with. Ask and assert these questions: why am I with them? Are we having fun? Are they bringing out the best in me? If you answered “yes” to all those questions, you have no worries; if, however, you answered “no” to the last part, assert yourself with these follow-ups: “Why do we hang out?”, “Are they really trustworthy?,” and “Is there a reason why this relationship is still going?” If you can’t find a positive answered, you need to find different people to hang out with. Scat. This was a problem I had for a long time. I hung around and associated myself with a crew of people who I never truly felt a part of. While they are good people, its no secret that some of them illustrated no qualms about giving hints I didn’t count, either. I have nothing bad to say and won’t demonize them — they have the tendency to be gossip, but, hey, don’t we are. Although they might never realize it, the gossip can come off as two faced and fake. I didn’t like it. Ironically it took getting another now former friend with her issues in the mix for me to see that it was time to go, for I never truly fit in. So I distanced myself. Severely. A year later, I realized maybe I was too hard on them, my means of distance being full of its two-facedness and gossip that I was truly to get away from, and we all reconnected.
The brief reunion with my group from high school was a lot of fun, the most we’d had in years. However, I got the previously mentioned old friend involved, who, despite seeming like an innocent person, inflicts severe damage, harm, and casts a negative aura on all those she associates herself with. I used to blame her for years, though now I realize that she may or may not be bad after all, given the fact that, like my ex, she has a psychological condition that she’ll never get checked out because she’s constantly in denial and believes drugs, alcohol, and gratification from backstabbing others makes all the pain go away. She brings out the worst in everyone and puts them in dangerous situations; it took her leaving me at a bar not in the right state of mind to see this. Yet everyone loves her because of the all the crazy stories they can get out of her, despite the fact that they know that she needs real help from medical professionals and they’re not helping, only enabling her destructive behavior. That’s why I don’t bother with any of them anymore. Only one person from the group, to me the most honest and genuine one, I keep in touch with; the rest? Non proprio — not really. We say “hello” and “goodbye,” or check in on one another once in a while, but that’s about it. Perhaps if she didn’t get involved again, we’d be close again, or maybe not.
The moral of the story is this — this period of my life is a boat, myself and my high school friends the passengers. I never felt part of the group, and would retreat to my cabin (staying away for a year). One day I realized maybe it was too harsh, so I came out, and everything was good again. But then that old friend came along, myself leading her in their direction ironically, as an iceberg, which caused the ship to crash. Unlike everyone else who decided to stay on board and go down because they couldn’t let go or picture themselves off of the ship, I jumped overboard, cast adrift into the ocean, until I found new land (my higher self), and survived. Don’t be afraid to jump ship — you’ll sail adrift for days, months, even years, but there is always land in sight. Something better will come along, or perhaps the past will work itself out when all parties involved are aware and mature in accordance with free will and divine timing. Its also survival of the fittest. You must do what’s best in order to move on. In time, you’ll know it was worth it, and have better people in your life, or realize the good people in your life you used to take for granted all the time. This is a huge step in becoming self-aware.
Now onto step 3– “Journey to the Past (Anastasia reference, sorry I had to), but Don’t Live There.” That past is our biggest teacher in hindsight, but we can’t get too warped up in it. Focus on the mistakes, but don’t linger there; realize what should’ve been done, but also why things are the way they are and realize how its better this way. A perfect example is how I always wanted, and to this day still long a little, to go back to my first two years of high school. I had it all — loads of friends, an amazing boyfriend, good grades and a social life, I was always going out, etc. This was a huge accomplishment for me, especially being a product of formerly strict parents growing up. Everything people do in college, I did in high school, even the dates, although it was with one guy. Yet I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Then years later, reality hit. Friendships died, romance crumbled. I felt so forlorn and longing for the past for so long. It affected me deeply. I dealt with a lot at such a young age and did the best I could. Plain and simple. The romance didn’t work out, the friendship didn’t make it, you didn’t get the job– what’s done is done. Learn from the past, focus on the future, and most of all, live in the present moment. Also, who knows. Maybe people are meant to be in our lives, but at different times then they originally were. We all need time and room to learn, grow, and love at our own paces. Perhaps you’ll meet or hear from them again; others not. But we must live in the present moment, and try our best not to be preoccupied by longing for the future or the past.
Live. That’s the big advice I can give to be self-aware. Live the life you want, not the one others force on you. Reject their force and use your own; choose your own fate. Happiness belongs to those who make it, so get going. The time is now, and there’s no going back, only moving forward.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
“Whatever ought to be, can be.”
- James Rouse