For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.
Keep it real. What do I mean by that? Basically, I’m trying to remind myself that I don’t have to fake it. I don’t have to pretend to like something I don’t. I don’t have to pretend everything is ok when it’s not. I don’t have to pretend I have it all together when I (probably very obviously to all of you) don’t.
The problem is, I’m always pretending. I’m not trying to be fake. I just don’t like to offend, upset, or inconvenience anyone. Because of that, I often go along with whatever I feel I must go along with. I’m not talking about merely being agreeable. I think, in a lot of circumstances, it’s probably better to be pleasant and agreeable. My problem is that I never, ever speak up about what I want or need. I just go with the flow, even when it’s to my own detriment, just for the sake of making things easy for others. I wish that I could claim that I’m some kind of big-hearted, generous person, but that’s not usually the case. I go along with whatever and then find myself stewing inside. Eventually, I get to a point where I’ve let so many things build up that I’ve got resentment bubbling out of my ears. Then I blow up. Usually at my poor husband. Whether or not he was actually the cause of said resentment. It’s not exactly a healthy cycle.
When I was growing up, I simply was not permitted to ever disagree with my mom. Her opinion was (and is) always right no matter what. I’m not trying to blame my mom for all of my faults. I’m a grown up, and I’m responsible for my own behavior. But, in this instance, I really do think that’s why I am the way I am. I think I was just trained to sweep my thoughts and feelings under the rug. (Or, at the very least, just never admit them out loud.) Now, that’s my default setting.
A lot of my stress comes from these kind of circumstances. Circumstances I could avoid if I would just speak up.
The flip side of this twisted logic is that I never ask for help when I need it. I don’t want to get in the way or be a burden or otherwise inconvenience anyone. I have a lot of really sweet people in my life. I’m sure if I ever reached out when I was in need, someone would be there for me. But I wouldn’t know if that’s true or not. Because I’ve never done it. At least not willingly.
If I look at all the times I don’t ask for help when I need it and all the times I go along with something or agree to do something when I really should have said no, I can find the source of the majority of my stress. If I can get myself to remember to “keep it real,” I think I can eliminate a lot of my stress right at the root.
Now that I think about it, I think I just figured out what emotional boundaries are. I’ve always been kind of confused about how to know where I need emotional boundaries. I think I finally understand. If I can remember to “keep it real” and actually act real, I think my emotional boundaries will naturally fall into place. I’m pretty sure this may be a life altering breakthrough for me.