Picking and choosing, or Balancing the Psychoemotional Budget

Trying to think of how to phrase things, put the concepts in my head into words.

I’ve spent all my life surrounded by negativity.  You can’t do this, that’s not right, this isn’t how you should feel about this, that person isn’t good for you.  Sometimes it’s been right; sometimes I’ve ignored it, right or wrong.  It’s much easier to ignore the right than the wrong, though — something anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship with people telling them to get out knows.

I’m improving, and coming back to the person I truly am, the one that makes me pleased to look in the mirror even if things are hair-raising some of the time.  It’s both easier and harder than it seems.  The key seems to be remembering that my gut instinct is right, invariably right, and to listen to it… and that I’m allowed to say “No” to anything I want or need to, and I don’t have to care if someone else feels unhappy or upset by this.  This is a very big lesson for me, and I suspect for a lot of people.

For those other people, let me reiterate:  You are allowed to say “No” to anything you want or need to.  You are not required to care if other people object to this.  You need to set and keep your own boundaries, both physical and mental, and not everyone is going to be pleased by this.  Quite frankly, sucks to be them.  If they choose to be unhappy because you set boundaries, that is their problem.  Not yours.  If your boundaries are truly a problem for them, which they shouldn’t be unless it’s interfering with a healthy relationship or work environment, they can discuss it with you like an adult.

There.  If you think that may apply to you, go re-read that fifteen or twenty or fifteen hundred times.  (Or not.  Set your own boundaries.)

Progressing also means deciding what sort of people you want to have around you.  Generally your best bet is going to be maintaining contact with those who make you feel confident and good in (not about) yourself, and limiting contact with those who leave you feeling emotionally battered or depressed.  A test:  if you tell someone about an exciting and challenging opportunity you have, are they going to be pleased for you or pick it to shreds?  Another test: after being in someone’s company, do you feel drained or as though you’re somehow lacking, or do you feel calmer, more confident, more conscious of your own strength?

This does not mean “surround yourself with yes-(wo)men.”  Not even close.  It simply means that if talking to someone routinely leaves you feeling a lot more down at the end of a conversation than the beginning, you might want to consider limiting contact with them.  It also means that if there’s someone who, after being around them, leaves you feeling happy, confident, strong, content with yourself (I don’t mean “smug”), and energized — if you smile when you think of them — that you might want to consider making effort to spend time/maintain contact with them.

Right now I’ve clearly identified at least one person in that latter category.  I don’t know what else is going on, but I’m exercising patience.  I’ve had so much negativity in my life that some positive is worth waiting and putting in effort for.  I do only have a limited amount of emotional energy, so I guess I’ll just have to stop putting effort into maintaining contact with people who leave me feeling bruised and inadequate.


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