I sometimes conceptualize relationships as a living breathing organism that needs attention and care. In the beginning of a relationship, you have to start somewhat carefully and nurture it. You have to spend time with the other person and while some relationships may be easy, a strong one requires you to be deliberate. It doesn’t happen overnight. You solve misunderstandings and constantly assess what’s needed in order to make it stronger. You invest copious amounts of time and energy in the hope that it will be reciprocated and that you will get the results you desire. Sometimes this involves fighting for the relationship and defending it. Prioritizing it when it’s not always convenient and making amends when there is a conflict. This means that a relationship can be like an actual project. Recently I’ve been evaluating my friendships and relationships with others. I’ve realized that there are times that you have to literally step away from a friendship or relationship for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the reason is that after you’ve put in time, invested energy and resources and nurtured it, you have to see if it can survive on its own. This sometimes happens with distance. But it can also be a deliberate choice to test the strength of the relationship to see if it can last without being nurtured all the time. The truth is that sometimes the only way to know if you’ve done good work is to step away and see if it can stand alone without assistance. Many times this process isn’t easy but in the end it’s worth it because you know where you stand and you can decide if the relationship is actually worth your continued time and energy.
I don’t know why but I really like this picture. While it seems a bit harsh, I think that there’s a practical application that can be taken away. I’ve seen people post the smallest details of their lives in various forms of social media. These actions have had my questioning how many people actually care about that stuff. While the message in the picture can be interpreted in several ways, it was a reminder to me that many times it’s pointless to look for constant validation for things that should already be occurring. You should not expect kudos for being independent and paying bills on time. Those actions are signs of mature adults. The problem is when people start to crave the approval and then become depressed when they don’t get it. Sometimes you have to work harder without expecting others around to understand or care. While that may sound harsh, basing your life and your goals on the approval of others in the hope that they’ll eventually care isn’t smart.
When I saw this picture I automatically thought of being a slave to the opinions of other people. I can think of countless people who have made bad decisions that weren’t right for them because they were worried about what others might think. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. I was never grossed out by blood and guts and I wanted to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. However, after a very rude awakening in my very first college level biology class, I decided that I was better suited for the social sciences. But I digress. My point is that it’s stupid to let what other people think of you dictate major life decisions. At the end of the day you can’t escape from you. The most successful people in life are those who don’t care what other people think. They take the road less traveled and they make no apologies for it. I heard someone say that in order to get what others won’t get, you have to do what others won’t do. And in order to do what you need to do, you have to realize that your actions won’t always make sense to other people. At the end of the day people will think and believe what they want to. Let them.
I think I may suffer from Cardiomegaly. Not in the physical sense, but definitely emotionally. For those of you who may not have wikipedia nearby, Cardiomegaly is when the heart is enlarged and it can be caused by a variety of different things including tumors, anemia, and cocaine use. I think my heart may actually be too big and that realization is coming to me slowly but pretty surely. I’m the kind of person who will go above and beyond the call of duty for someone that is close to me. While I’ve gotten better with sticking to boundaries, I still will bend over backwards to help someone I consider part of my family (immediate, close, or adopted). Now this is actually a good thing. I can be counted on and I’m loyal to a fault. HOWEVER, the bad part about this is that if I legitimately care about someone. I’ll still be inconvenienced and sacrifice enormously despite the fact that they 1. Don’t care about me back 2. Don’t know that I’m actually being inconvenienced and 3. Have not given me ANY indication that they’re about to care about me. As a therapist, one of the things that I talk about all the time with my clients is the importance of sticking to your boundaries and being with people that appreciate you. I first noticed this enlarged heart condition when I was a little kid and I could empathize with people and cry when someone started crying just because I was sad that they were sad. To this day, I still occasionally do that. It’s a good thing to care about people and to be genuinely interested in their welfare. But it’s another thing to care to the point that it’s at your own personal expense and the other person remains oblivious to your caring. This has happened to me more times than I would care to count. But, it’s something that I am actually aware of and despite the fact that caring too much continually screws me over, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s painful and involves a lot of emotions but it’s who I am. It’s uncomfortable and almost always inconvenient but it’s familiar. So many people talk about how they want their hearts to soften but I could probably benefit from a little hardening. As someone told me this week, “caring a lot about other people can be both a blessing and a curse.” And who knows, maybe caring too much will one day work in my favor instead of working against me.