“The point of living and of being an optimist is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.” –Peter Ustinov
“Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” –Sacha Guitry
I once was asked how I balance my personal life with my public life. It was an odd question. Since I started blogging, I have been fairly open with the inner struggles I faced over the last few years. It was important to me to be authentic and honest with each post, and some of it has been cathartic in its own way.
But as I sat down to write out my gratitude journal for this week, I realized that there are many things I keep behind closed doors. I had one unspoken golden rule when it came to blogging: Don’t talk about your relationships. Especially conflicts.
It’s a sound policy. Keep those things personal and focus on the general issues that most people can relate to. Throw in a recipe here or there. It’ll be fine.
Then I had to stop and ask myself: Is this really authentic? As someone who chooses to sit down week after week to share their gratitude, is it honest to ignore the struggles I face with others during my journey? Aren’t those conflicts an important factor in our personal growth and don’t they become learning experiences in and of themselves?
I’m in conflict from every angle: internally, with a partner, with a coworker, with family. It seems like I’m at odds with the universe these days and I’m left trying to figure out how to deal with it all.
I strive to be a good person in all aspects of my life. I take my relationships seriously and give myself over completely to the people I’ve come to love and trust over the years. In some ways, that’s been my fatal flaw. I’ve had people take advantage of my generosity because they knew that I would always be there, sticking it out because I told myself that I needed to, as a good friend or partner. It became an aspect of myself that I regarded as weak.
It took me a long time to understand that this wasn’t a weakness. Being a giver allows me to connect to people on a deeper level. I can share with them and empathize. Be a part of their lives in a profound way, even if it’s temporary. Those are the relationships worth giving myself over to and that’s not something I’m looking to change.
The part that I have learned, though, is that I need to manage my emotions with others, especially when I’m in conflict with them. And that brings me back to these past few weeks where it feels like there’s discord everywhere I turn. I’m figuring out how to apply the principles of gratitude and positive thinking to these situations and it feels like I’m failing miserably. So much so, that I’m breaking my golden rule and coming on here to talk about it out loud.
How do you manage your feelings and expectations of others, when they’re completely blocking you out? At what point do you stop putting yourself on the front lines of a daily barrage of hostility? What do you do when a loved one completely abandons you with no explanation and tells you to be patient when you try to figure out why?
I don’t have any answers right now, and it’s tough to find an upside when I feel like my heart keeps breaking over and over.
Then I was reminded of one truth that proves conflict doesn’t always mean the end of things. In my need to feel connected and a bit of love, I reached out to some friends who I’ve felt disconnected from lately. I broke down in tears yesterday when one of them listened as I went on and on about a work issue, and responded with, “I love you.” That’s all. And it was exactly the right thing to say.
I chided myself for losing sight of the bigger picture. Right now, it sucks. I don’t see the light. Things are still in patchy shades of grey. You can’t please everyone. And sometimes, people need to figure out what they’re doing on their own without input from the outside world. That means that I also have to be understanding that I can’t expect to fix everyone else’s problems. And even more importantly, I have to be mindful of how much I’m willing to give in conflict when the other person is giving me nothing.
Relationships are a give and take, and I’m still trying to find the balance between the two. I hope that the people in my life right now will stick around. It saddens me to think they might not. But at the end of the day, I can be grateful that I’m going at it constructively and with the intention for peace and love in my heart.
I’m not alone no matter how much I feel like I am. And for that, I give thanks.
What are you grateful for today?
Please feel free to share below, or on Facebook and Twitter!
As always, keep paying it forward. Stay healthy! :-)