I am living proof that great pain can lead to massive transformation.
I spent much of my life as a peacekeeper and people-pleaser. I put the peace of a space and others’ well-being above my own. I became a sort of chameleon, changing in small ways to try and reduce tension in my house growing up, and later as a way to keep other people comfortable. I had an innate sense that if everyone around me was OK, that I would then be OK too. But I wasn’t OK. With each concession I made to create less waves, I moved farther and farther away from my true self. I didn’t notice it at first and couldn’t have predicted the level of depression and dis-ease that changing myself for others would cause someday.
When I found myself in a loveless marriage where I was lonelier than I have ever felt in times where I have actually been alone, I ignored what my heart was telling me. I had been so adamant about creating a family for my son, to be a happy, intact family that I hadn’t experienced, that to follow my heart meant to leave that dream behind for all of us. So, I ignored that knowing sense that I felt. I buried myself in raising my son. But it could not last forever. Eventually, my heart grew weak and nearly stopped working and I found myself at rock bottom. In one fell swoop, my health was taken from me, and I nearly died of heart failure. An emergent heart surgery later and I slowly began to find my way back to myself.
The recovery felt fast at first, until it became apparent that my heart condition was going to be a recurring theme in my life. Doctors had trouble figuring it out, and so they did what they could to ward it off with a steroid bandaid in the form of prednisone pills.
There are lots of parts to this story, but the take away is much more important at this point, for me and for you.
1. Stop putting yourself second to the wishes of others. Humans are fickle beings, and won’t stay happy for long before you’re feeling the need to do more to feed their happiness. You don’t have the ability to make anyone else happy if they themselves haven’t found a way to cultivate happiness in their own life. We can add to another’s happiness, but we are not responsible for creating it.
2. Stop changing yourself to fit in with the people around you. In the end, you’ll feel like a shell of yourself, plus you’ll soon realize that they’re not your people anyway. Who wants to hang out with people who don’t love you for being 100% yourself? The chameleon game is an exhausting one. You’ll find yourself eventually losing yourself and wondering how it happened. It happens in small, incremental changes you make in yourself to make others comfortable. You likely won’t realize it’s happening until you’ve forgotten even the basics of what you like to do for fun, and who you are at your core.
3. Stop doing things that stress you out, like really stress you out. If you’re in a relationship that adds more stress to your life than happiness, don’t feel bad about putting yourself first and leaving. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone by staying. Life is much too short to spend it with people who don’t light you up. Same goes with anything else in life.
4. Stop doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. It’s not only the definition of insanity, but it won’t get you into a different life that you’ve been imagining for yourself. If you want something different than what you currently have, you’ve got to be willing to move out of your comfort zone and do new things.
5. Start putting yourself first. Do things that make you happy, that bring you joy. What have you been putting off that you really want to do? What steps can you take towards doing it now? Start saying no to things you don’t want to do.
We can use our experiences to guide us in life or we can use them to feel like victims. The choice is ours. If you’re stressed, or sick, or not living your best life, it’s time to look at the areas of your life that are no longer working for you. The days of being a people-pleaser, peacekeeper, and martyr are over. The time has come for us all to realize our limitless potential to create a life of our dreams. Life is much too short to continue to wait for someone else’s permission to fully live! Give yourself the permission you need to go after your dreams like this is the only shot you’ve got!
I am passionate about working with people and encouraging them to follow their joy and passion towards living a life in alignment with their soul’s purpose (ie. living their best lives). Guiding others in this way and offering the confirmation that they need to follow their dreams lights me up like nothing else! Please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram for more written content and impromptu FB Live videos. If my words resonate with you, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me about it! I love connecting with people!! Maybe you have a topic you’d love me to write about?
Photo excerpt from “Life Visioning” by Michael Bernard Beckwith
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