Happy (almost) 2018 y’all! I love New Year’s… I know goal-setting can happen any time, but it always feels more official if you set a few goals (resolutions, if you will) at the start of the new year. Here are my top 3 for 2018:
Truth-telling (in realtime)
I have a lot of thoughts/feelings/reactions when I’m interacting with people… (as do most people lol). Something I’m really good at is expressing those feelings when they fall somewhere within the happy/joyful/excited range on the Spectrum of Human Emotions. I’m quick to tell the person I’m speaking with how I’m feeling and expressing that in whatever way(s) feel right. I’m actually also not half bad at expressing sad feelings either.
Something I’m not so good at though, is expressing emotions that relate to being upset, angry, hurt, or confused (conflict-related emotions). I experience these more uncomfortable feelings not all the time, but definitely sometimes in conversations that I engage in, but whenever it happens, I do this annoying thing where instead of talking about it right then and there, or expressing those emotions in the moment, I sort of shove them away somewhere. I ignore them and leave them for later. I think, “There’s not really any conflict here… Now’s not the time to say that.”
I do it as a way to avoid confrontation, and in the process, I try to convince myself that I can’t and shouldn’t trust my instincts when they tell me something is wrong here, that something other than happiness and good feelings needs to be addressed/expressed right now. Then I leave the conversation, and when I’m removed from the situation, I either journal about it alone or talk it through with a close friend or family member. And then one of two things happens:
1. I make excuses and tell myself to let it go.
I convince myself the situation/conversation/conflict wasn’t significant enough to bring back up again with whomever I was speaking with. I tell myself it would be weird if I resurfaced the conversation and expressed myself so long after-the-fact. Basically I tell myself some BS excuse as to why I should be A-okay with whatever happened. I tell myself to just forget it.
2. I get back in touch with the person I was speaking with and I express my feelings after-the-fact.
I’m bothered by what happened and how I’m feeling to the extent that I can’t ignore it. I call/text/meet the person, bring up the past conversation, and express my feelings and thoughts to them then. Up until and during the time that I’m confronting this person about my thoughts, I am nervous AF, thinking about how I’m going to do it, what I’m going to say, how I’ll come off, etc. etc.
More often than not, I opt for Option #1, because (even though I know that unexpressed emotions manifest in some NASTY ways) it’s easier in the short-term to just not say anything and take the easy/cowardly way out.
I’m just starting out, but I’ve tested the waters recently, speaking my mind/truth in the moment in conversations. It’s kind of amazing when I decide to go for it… When I do it I feel so light and real and honest. Issues and conflicts are put on the table and not ignored. They’re resolved right then and there, and they’re resolved so much more quickly than they would have been had I shoved them away and left them for later. And it’s never as scary as I thought it would be either. (Turns out waiting to process and then bringing it back up later is actually what causes a lot of the fear). So I want to do more of that in 2018. More truth-telling in realtime, even when uncomfy emotions/feelings are involved.
(n.) loving what is.
2017 was a year of discovering the power of gratitude for me. As cliche as it sounds, there’s a reason that gratitude is the thing that so many religious, spiritual, and healing people point to as the thing we need more of to be truly happy. So much of our quality of life rides on what happens in our heads. I spent so much time growing up moping around about what was not… I’m still learning, but I want to keep leveraging the power of gratitude in 2018, loving what is, working towards what can be, and not dwelling on what isn’t. (More on this in posts to come).
As a mentor and friend of mine likes to say, “Boundaries are to bless.” I want to make 2018 a year of greater blessing through greater boundaries. A few areas I’m setting boundaries in specifically:
- The things I allow myself to say, both to and about myself and other people
- The people I spend time with
- The things I talk about
- The shows I watch (both the quality and quantity)
- The social media accounts I follow
- The food I put in my body
I can be the type of person that accidentally throws out any and all boundaries in my life for the sake of making other people happy (whoops… any other people pleasers out there?), but I’ve gotten to the point where I really can’t (and won’t) allow that to happen anymore. For a long time I think I thought it was okay to do that, because I like to help other people and I really want them to be happy. (I also really want them to like me.) But it really depletes you after awhile, and I discovered that if I live my life in a constant state of depletion I begin to feel like I’m not actually living, but dying (a slow, steady, and resent-full death), and I don’t think that’s the way life’s supposed to go.
Something that’s really helping me as I continue to set boundaries (relational boundaries*) is looking to Jesus and the way he lived his life. It’s fascinating because for someone who healed as many people as he did, and spent as much time literally saving the world as he did, Jesus set a LOT of boundaries. He didn’t give himself away all the time to all people. He took time to be alone with God, to pray in the woods, to recharge and recoup. (“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16; “After He had sent [the crowd] away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” Matthew 14:23). While there were always people who needed healing, he had to retreat sometimes, so that he could be filled up and FULL. This way, when he returned to the trenches he’d be able to give from a place of overflow, rather than lack, providing people not with pieces of his broken/depleted human self, but with God’s healing Spirit.
Too many of us are giving away pieces of ourselves, because we haven’t taken the time to breathe for a second and be filled up by God. We think we’re some kind of martyr for never saying no, or for allowing people (ourselves included) to constantly violate our own boundaries. And then we wonder why we’re exhausted and resentful all the time… There are a few select circumstances when making exceptions for certain boundary implementations may be necessary (in rare times of crisis), but a boundary-less life should not be the norm, and if it is, I think we have to make some adjustments. So this year I am making it a point to remind myself that there’s always more work to be done than can be done, and if even Jesus set boundaries (?!), then it’s okay for little old me to, too. Boundaries can be the difference between living from a place of abundance and living from a place of depletion. And the former just sounds so much more appealing to me.
Happy 2018 everyone. Let me know what your New Years goals/resolutions are in the comments below or via email! I’m always on the lookout for more good ones to implement myself… 🙂 Whatever they are, I’m wishing you all the best as you set out to put them into practice.
(Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash)