“No” is a complete sentence.” ~Anne Lamott
Recently, I stumbled across an interesting find in a charity shop. It was a book called “The Curse of Lovely” by Jacqui Marson, and coincidently this topic has been on my mind for the past week. Cue blog post…
I used to think that ‘I’ was the root of all my problems, but turns out that a lot was actually caused by other people. Many would frame things in a way that made me believe that I had the responsibility to deal with it, and so as someone who has always been passionate about progression, I made it my responsibility to sort out things out and help others along the way.
Yeah, I know what your thinking… ‘why didn’t you realise?!’
Well, you just don’t really think about it because it feels like you are doing something good and therefore you think about other’s intentions. But un/fortunately I soon learned the hard way, when at my lowest point, I realised that I gave more than I received (& the term receiving is a major overstatement). From then on, I promised myself to put my needs first. Although what most forget to tell you is how difficult it is to start saying no. So being the nice person that I am, I felt that saying no directly was too much of a big leap and wanted an assertive way of doing so. I found that my answer lay in setting boundaries.
For some, this might sound obvious. But those suffering from ‘The Curse of Lovely’ it is a skill that has not been nurtured as much as our other social abilities. In my case, I decided that the boundaries I set were adjusted according to how they treated me. In other words, I began to analyse relationships in terms of input and output, and by that I mean by differentiating those who only wanted to take, from those who would return.
Now, this is not a perfect way of structuring boundaries, but it is a start for those looking for a first step. Although, it is also important to know that people are complex, and sometimes other factors come into play. For example in the case of someone who is depressed, although they may distance themselves from you, usually unintentionally, what they need most is your support. So, I guess in another light, it’s also understanding the relationships between the needs/factors of yourself and others and seeing their compatibility.
Now please understand that I have not woken in a state of bliss, found all the perfect friends or lifted the ‘curse’. If anything I am still ‘cursed’, I just selectively choose who to I expose the ‘curse’ too. But sometimes I have moments where I imagine what my life would have been like if I didn’t expend my energy on the things that I did. Would I have had to go through as much as I did? Would life have worked out the way I wanted it too? But at the end of the day, I accept that it was the best decision I could have made at the time with the resources, knowledge and experience I had. And, although I have lost irreplaceable years, I have now been honoured with so many wonderful opportunities and people in my life. And in fact putting my ‘all’ into different places has now given me clear direction as to where best to channel my energy. But most importantly, it has allowed me to master one of the rarest and sacred arts. The art of giving selflessly.
“To know my curse is to know my blessing.”