Attracting people into our lives who love us as we are is a beautiful gift.
There is nothing like the feeling of being comfortable enough around another human being to let down the walls and bare our messy souls.
Without some mindfulness, though, being “comfortable” can also seep in like poison, destroying our relationships and shortchanging our own growth.
We all wear masks. We put them on for our co-workers, our neighbors, and even our friends when we put on an act to make ourselves look more professional, more likable and more perfect than we really are.
We do it on social media, too. Rarely do we share our ugly moments on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We paint pictures of ourselves online, picking and choosing the thoughts and moments that only show us in our best light.
But when we’re at home with those we love the most, frustration, anger, self-doubt and guilt come out, sometimes in the ugliest of ways—and it’s often those closest to us who bear their burden. It isn’t that we want to hurt our loved ones; it’s because we are comfortable enough with them to allow our own bad behaviors to come out.
We may yell at our children or significant others because we’re angry about something at work, or we may burst into a jealous rage when it’s our own feelings of inadequacy that we’re battling.
We might fall into the habit of being grumpy or bossy, nitpicking their faults or prioritizing our own needs over theirs.
Our destructive responses have a way of entering places they don’t belong because we know that our family and closest friends are safe. In many ways, they are.
Spouses or significant others, children, and those nearest to our hearts know that we love them, so they sometimes grant us free passes to be hurtful or venomous. After all, everyone has bad days. But we can’t take those passes for granted. Everyone has their breaking point, and our “comfortable” behaviors can erode even the strongest love and devotion.
Of all the people we are kind to, shouldn’t those we love most be at the top of the list?
The problem is that we need to redefine “comfortable” to include accountability for our actions and the emotional maturity to understand and act on what we really need. We have to learn to react to our triggers in productive, peaceful ways. After all, no one makes us angry or miserable—we choose those responses.
Choose something different.
Here’s what we can do instead:
Recognize that being comfortable is not an excuse to hurt others. By working with our mindfulness, we being to notice more and we can start to catch ourselves acting out toward loved ones. Until we know what we are doing, we can’t change it.
When you find yourself in a funk, pause and get real. If you feel grumpy or ready to fly off the handle, remind yourself how much you love your family or others close to you, and recognize that they are on this journey with you. Chances are, your mood has little to do with whether or not your child cleaned their room, or with the comment your significant other made that set you off. Sit with yourself and find out what the real issue is.
Find alternatives. Learn to talk about your feelings in healthy ways. Go to a yoga class or to the gym and work it out. Meditate. Grab a friend and go for a cup of tea or glass of wine. Talk about it with someone you trust, not to complain and dump about it, but with the intention of making it better. There are plenty of ways to develop mindfulness and healthier alternatives to anger or irritability.
Don’t be afraid to say you are sorry. One of the greatest gifts you can give those around you is to acknowledge that you are not perfect. Learn to apologize for things you do wrong with sincerity, even if it takes them a while to forgive you.
Learn to forgive those you love—and to forgive yourself. Don’t turn past hurts into readied weapons set to launch when you’re in a bad mood. Learn to let go, and mean it. Let go of things that hurt, and let go of the idea that you need to have all of the answers. Above all, remember that you are lovable, even if your behaviors aren’t. Luckily for you, behaviors can be changed.
We are all on an imperfectly human path through life, and every one of us struggles with balancing who we want to be, who we should be, and who we are. The more disciplined we become inside of our minds, the more the view from behind our masks begins to look the same as the view in front. We become more authentic—all the time.
With awareness, mindfulness and practice, we can learn to be kindest to the ones who matter most—not because we hide our feelings from them, but because we change our negative responses to something more wise and thoughtful. We also find compassion for ourselves and for others in the process.
When others allow us to hold their hearts in our hands, these are the ones who deserve the most from us, and who can help us to become who we really want to be.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Images: Video Still/The Honeymooners
Editor: Travis May