Perhaps you are afraid to let go of the pain (or person, as the case may be) because, sometimes, it feels like it's all you have left. I completely understand. I move forward, but only in inches. A little here and there, but not nearly with the strength and speed I'm capable of. Part of me doesn't really know if I want to anymore. Why bother? The world uses women. We get passed over for jobs, promotions, raises...and that's with hearty helpings of sexual harassment on the side. CFO's of multi-million-dollar companies paying you literally nothing yet complaining that you are making too much when you refuse to sit on their lap. Or, getting pushed out of your job by a group of men because you publish books read by more than five people and get nominated for awards every year...and, they don't. Or, making major compromises to pursue freedom, happiness and independence only to be punished by the men in your life for wanting all three.
I can keep fighting the good fight, but even when I succeed professionally, there's always someone in my personal life waiting to use me up. Two steps forward, three steps back. It's frustrating. I vacillate between wanting to reserve my energy for simply joys like hiking and spending time with my nephews, to committing what little I have left to remaking myself and my future--despite the enormous odds against me. Maybe you can relate???
Self-sabotage is what creates conundrums--or, logical loops. Pushing away people who can help you move your life forward in order to hold yourself back is a similar "why bother" psychology, but instead of having real-life experience as evidentiary support for your thinking, your proof is based entirely on personal insecurities. Fantasy. What you imagine is happening in someone else's head instead of looking around you and seeing the truth. Either way, moving forward is difficult. In my case, I must continue to put myself out there for both professional rejection and real life scrutiny. I must continue to field sexually-inappropriate comments and actions from males in positions of power AND those who aren't. And I must do it all with a smile. Because, it's the only chance I have of breaking free from the cycle of abuse. It's the same for anyone who has social disadvantages. It's not fair, but fairness is not exactly something larger society is known for, is it???
There are plenty of people who will create road blocks for you, that's why it's so important that we not help those individuals who want to hurt us by hurting ourselves. We have to believe in our future, no matter what. Even if we're tired. Even if we can only move in inches. Progress is still progress. And, that's what we must focus on--not our perceived failures or potential rejections. Clinging to the past reduces our chances of a successful future. Hopes, wishes, dreams, and fantasies can only become real if we commit to making them real by taking responsibility for ourselves. That means working harder than you've ever had to work before, and never, ever giving up. It also means no more excuses. No more fear. No more listening to naysayers or any negative talk. You may not be able to discard those who are creating obstacles or punishing you for whatever reasons people feel the need to punish, but you can turn them off. You don't have to listen. And you most certainly do not have to believe the nasty, negative things being said (and/or done).
You matter. But YOU must believe in yourself before anyone else can.
Any individual who creates problems in your life will never be the solution. I can't tell you how often I wanted it to be the opposite; it helps to have the person who hurt us acknowledge our pain and suffering through a sincere apology. But, the people who cause us real harm are incapable of doing anything else. Even if a miracle happened, and years later, the person who hurt you suddenly wanted to apologize--it really wouldn't matter. Because, if it takes an individual that much time to apologize, the apology is disingenuous. Fake. Done for reasons other than wanting to repair whatever was broken. When you hurt someone unintentionally, the impulse to apologize is almost immediate. When a person comes back after an extended period of time to make amends, it's only because you have something that individual desires. Your ego may want you to believe this turn of events is because of you, but it's more likely about whatever supply you can provide to a taker, a user, and ultimately, a person who will become your future abuser--IF you let them.
Abusers trade or commodify unconditional love of and by the individual for the conditional love of a particular social group. It's a bad trade. Instead of working hard to live the life the abuser really wants, he will live the life he believes others want him to live in order to maintain social acceptance, but also to self-sabotage. Abusers have victim-mentalities, even though they are the ones who victimize others. An abuser will never do anything that will remove them from negative influences because then, they'd no longer have an excuse to be angry or frustrated with the world. Abusers will always require you to martyr yourself in some way--sacrifice your career, education, your desire to have a family, maybe ask you to cash out your retirement or any savings you have, even require you move far away from family and friends. These sacrifices are meant to isolate you, keep you vulnerable. When surrounded by people who ask you to be a martyr in order to gain their acceptance, it's easy to forget that you have the freedom to make a different choice. A better choice, because it would mean choosing happiness by choosing what you want. Choosing it because it's what's best for you. Not because someone else thought it was a good idea. Or, threatened you, holding you emotional hostage.
Abusers are ultimately lazy. Whatever you do for them, it's something they do not want to do themselves. That's not love. Not even close.
We often make the right choices to potentially improve our lives--that's never really the issue. The problem is in committing to those choices. We get easily distracted by things like the "why bother" psychology because we don't really want to succeed. We're afraid. Afraid we might fail. Fail not because we deserve to fail, but because others will reject us. Fear of rejection is the biggest mistake any of us make. Who cares if someone rejects you? There are seven-billion people on our planet. You only need one of those seven-billion to accept you and/or your ideas. The odds are actually in your favor. Therefore the only real rejection any of us have to worry about is our own. When we are reluctant to commit to ideas, people, or other long-term projects, we are self-sabotaging. Martyrdom is self-sabotage as well--you can't commit to anything if you have nothing. And, that's exactly what will happen, no matter how many degrees you have, or how many years you've dedicated to your career.
Conditional social acceptance by an individual (or a group connected to the individual whose acceptance we desire) will not make you feel alive. It will not set your heart and soul free. It will not bare your children. It will not make you rich either. It just makes life a little easier--at least, temporarily. Complacency via comfort surrounding the familiar will trick you into thinking things are fine when they're not. And, while it is entirely sad to realize you made a colossal mistake long after you make it, the only person who can "fix it" once you do recognize the issue is the person who made the regretful choice(s) to begin with. That's you. No one else is responsible. Period.
We're often encouraged to make compromises in society. Especially vulnerable individuals. But, no one who truly cares for you will ever ask you to compromise your safety, your security, your home, your dreams, your job, your dream-job, your well-being, or your finances for their benefit. It's unconscionable. Like buying cigarettes for a little girl so she can lose weight. Or, taking advantage of a teenager when you're 35 and have been married and divorced twice already just to get free rent. Or maybe, telling someone who loves you that you want to have a baby and get married when you don't, just so you can live in a nice house, go on a nice vacation, and get a free wardrobe upgrade. That level of unconscionable.
Sadly, the past, such as it is, cannot be changed. We can only change ourselves. Be more present. Mindful. Self-aware. Stop trying to take. Stop trying to use and/or abuse. And start healing from the inside out. When you heal yourself, you can heal others. Healing is what allows us to move our lives forward. The sadness from my many, many losses can sometimes overwhelm me. But then, I think of all the things I'm grateful for--including you, dearest readers. I think of the future we are building together, brick-by-brick, day-by-day. And, I smile again. Because we're making the world a better place. It is happening. Slowly, steadily, we will all be the winners of our own lives. Today, we are more than two-million strong. Multiply that number by eight, and you'll get an idea of how and why EACH of you matter. Our numbers continue to rise...just like us. Together, we connect (and therefore, influence) nearly 17,000,000 people in more than 120 countries around the world.
You. Matter. So do I.
Regret has an air of entitlement to it. Entitlement is another form of self-sabotage. When you feel like you're owed, you'll always be disappointed. Always be a "victim." Gratitude, however, is all about being thankful for what we do have--not expecting things we don't. Gratitude moves us forward. Regret holds us down and back. Choose to think happy, positive thoughts. Choose to believe that your life can and will improve. Choose to have compassion for yourself and others, forgiving those who have trespassed against you because it does not serve you to hold on to anger.
Looking back and wondering what could have been is nothing more than a psychological trap. We can only ever move in one direction. That's why being mindful--or, self-aware--is so important to having a better future. To move yourself closer to that future, watch what you say, how you say it, when you say it, and, what you do, or, don't do. Today becomes tomorrow in the blink of an eye. You can never go backwards, so use wisdom, patience and light as you walk the path we all travel on...together, even if apart. Move through each moment of each day with peace and joy, grateful for your life, and you will eventually see positive change.
Though there is plenty that can (and will) hold us down and back, it is up to us to set those things free with the utmost ferocity. When we do, we become free, too. And, that's what "living" really means. Freedom. To love. To laugh. To live. Without compromising ourselves or others. Without sacrifice. But instead, with outrageous joy and a full, happy heart.