I keep asking myself why.
Why do I try to keep the peace with people who have no problem stealing mine?
Whether we’re talking family or friends, it’s difficult to maintain peaceful, close relationships with people who think their peace is necessary, but ours is optional.
I think we have an obligation to start taking better care of ourselves and to start protecting our own peace as vigilantly as we once tried to keep the peace with others.
I’m not saying we should make war with others. Not at all. But most of my issues with people lately have come with others not respecting my right to live my life in the way I choose. These people often have a lot of opinions about how other people should be living too—to the extent that they participate in the oppression of other groups of people.
When our disagreements with others revolve around race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender, we need to understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to stop spending time with people who believe that others aren’t entitled to the same human rights that they enjoy. This isn’t a disagreement over pizza toppings, pineapple or not. This is about whether or not we choose to share space with people who think some people are worth less than others.
Should we completely stop talking to people like this? Should we cut them out of our lives? No, of course we shouldn’t. But, we certainly have choices about our support system, the people we keep closest to us. We can choose to make sure that our circle is the most loving, supportive circle possible. We can also choose to call out microaggressions, racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination when we hear them, rather than staying silent to keep the peace.
We can remember that their peace isn’t more important than our own. We don’t have to sit in discomfort and bite our tongues. We can calmly and firmly stand up for what we believe and understand that anyone who goes on the attack because we did this does not belong in our circle.
We’ve been conditioned to put everyone ahead of ourselves and to twist ourselves into whatever shape we need in order to avoid conflict. I’m not a fan of conflict, but I’ve noticed the people I choose to spend time with don’t have a problem having a discussion with me about a variety of topics, whether we agree 100 percent on everything, or not.
This is an essential component of a healthy support system. But, I feel most of us come from unhealthy backgrounds. We begin to think verbal and emotional abuse is just par for the course, rather than something we need to confront and stop immediately.
Another component to these unhealthy relationships is that we often don’t have a healthy relationship with ourselves. If we aren’t body positive and emotionally healthy, how can we enforce boundaries with others?
When I worked as a therapist, one of my first tasks was to help clients understand that we can’t change everyone around us. All we can do is work on our own choices. We can choose how to respond to those around us and how to live. To do this, it’s essential that we learn to love and care for ourselves. From that place of security and confidence, we can assert our boundaries with equal confidence and self-assurance.
We know that putting boundaries in place protects us and others, and it’s not a hurtful or aggressive action. It simply tells the world that our personal selves are sacred and worthy of receiving good and kind treatment as much as any other human being.
Boundaries say that we will not allow ourselves to be mistreated.
We are under no obligation to continue to keep the peace with those who infringe upon ours. We don’t have to let them into our inner circle and spend our valuable time in their company. Instead, we can make it clear that we’re happy to have healthy relationships in our lives, but we will no longer choose to be the doormat for people who don’t show us basic courtesy.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Heather Thorkelson/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Erin Lawson