Some days I wish I had it as easy as other people seem to have it, but then I remember that they wish the same thing. I can remember wishing I had the sunny disposition and self-restraint toward food that a coworker did. Then I found out that she was anorexic and the “sunny disposition” was just an act. On second thought, maybe my life struggles aren’t so bad after all.
I often have to remind myself that everyone has problems, even if I can’t see them. After all, each of us has some vital life lessons to learn and we get as many opportunities to learn them as it takes. If we keep encountering the same problems over and over, there’s a lesson in there that we haven’t learned yet. Nothing like a second, third, fourth, or fortieth chance to get it right, huh? It’s nice to get the do-overs, but it’d also be nice to, just once in a while, get it right the first time.
Sadly, there are no magic bullets in this life. But then, we don’t truly appreciate what we have unless we’ve worked for it. Some of these lessons will cause a lot of pain in the learning process, but in the end they’ll be totally worth it.
In the course of my life I’ve learned a number of lessons that have, in the long run, helped me have a life of less stress. I hope they will help you stress less too… eventually.
1. Some people will hold you to a different standard than they hold others, and it’s all based on their opinion. – First, remember that their opinion is all about them, it says nothing about you. Opinions are not facts, they are beliefs that are colored by the person’s past experience and pre-conceived ideas/stereotypes. Second, your first responsibility is to be true to you. You are under no obligation to conform to their opinion of you. In fact, I highly recommend against it. Your best bet is to not take their opinion(s) personally. If you can’t do that, you may need to spend less time with them, or stop seeing them altogether.
2. You will change and it will piss some people off. – In their mind, you may be changing the rules in the middle of the game. Maybe they’ve always been able to talk you into doing what ever they want but over time you’ve changed to the point that you refuse to do things you don’t want to do or that you know aren’t good for you. Let me assure you that while their surprise and anger may be understandable (from their POV) and will likely cause some issues, being true to yourself will be less stressful in the end. If that means spending less time with this person, even if they’re family, then that’s what you should do. You can try explaining your side, and that may or may not help. Most of the time, you just have to keep on keeping on, let things blow over, and never stop being true to yourself.
3. People will only treat you as badly as you allow them to. – People can be right A-holes, and sometimes they will hurt you or break your heart. There’s nothing you can do about that. But they can’t continuously hurt you unless you keep going back for more. Sometimes people change (see number 2) but sometimes they don’t. If someone has repeatedly treated you as a doormat, ATM, or punching bag and insists that they’ve changed, you’re under no obligation to believe them or to resume whatever type relationship or contact you had with them previously. This is true, even if, beyond all shadow of a doubt, they actually have changed for the better. I’m all for giving people a second chance, but I also believe that with some people you need to follow the “three strikes and you’re out!” rule.
4. Don’t take anything personally. – I’ll grant that this one’s easier said than done most times, but with practice it gets easier. You can feel all kinds of anger, hurt, and disrespect when someone lies, cheats, or steals from you, but in the end the reason they do it has nothing to do with you. The reason they do the things they do has everything to do with them. This doesn’t mean that their words or actions won’t sting, only that the sting will be temporary. Sometimes you have to experience your immediate reaction to their blow and then talk yourself off the ledge by reminding yourself that the reason(s) they did or said what they did has nothing to do with you. It may help to remind yourself that liars lie, cheaters cheat, and a-holes are mean to everyone, not just you. It’s not you… it’s them.
5. People will treat you the way they treat others. – There’s an old saying “He who gossips to you, will gossip of you.” I can think of no more fitting example for this lesson. I can also think of hundreds of permutations: He who lies to others will lie to you, he who cheats others will cheat you, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. It’s a good idea to limit the time you spend with people who don’t treat others in a way that you would want to be treated. If you still think you’ll somehow be immune to their ill-behavior, you might want to consider what Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I have found this to be true with everyone I’ve ever known, including myself. Even if you aren’t on the receiving end of their bad behavior, do you really want to risk moving in that direction yourself?
I’m curious. What life lessons have you learned that the rest of us could benefit from? Please share them in the comments below. And don’t forget to share. (There are handy buttons just below the post)