Two years ago, as I turned 40, I was surprised to be introduced to a new me.
Despite the slight bitterness about my past, I discovered that I was in a lovely and comfortable position in life. Having seen the drama that comes with being young and ambitious to finally get over the struggle of surviving in life, the 40s came as a pleasant relief.
I had been quite sure of my likes and dislikes, what was worth my time and effort, and where I wanted to spend my energies. Suddenly, there were no more things to prove, opinions did not matter, and the world as such (which was constant chaos before) became a more happy place.
I had found the confidence to believe in myself, to put myself out there, and not bother about others’ judgments.
I had found the courage to come clean of my own fears, inhibitions, and insecurities.
I was ready to not only address the issues, but take necessary actions to change myself.
For the longest time, I had been painfully aware of the problems hindering my own personal and spiritual growth. But I was not ready to tackle them. Probably, I had become too comfortable in my own sob story. Somewhere, I had resigned to being a victim.
Change happened on two accounts:
1. I was increasingly convinced about the issues that needed to be dealt with. I was not ready to leave it to destiny or someone up there to take care of it. I was ready to take charge.
2. The second and more important factor was that the opinions of people did not matter anymore. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say that some of the people just ceased to exist in my life.
Today, I want to share the bravest act done by me ever: decluttering negative people from my life, including some family members and my oldest friends.
These people had an immeasurable emotional power over me. Everything I did or said was judged. In fact, as an individual, I was judged constantly.
The reason, I realized, was plain jealousy. Rather than being happy for me for achieving so much and working hard, they were always undermining me and my chance at happiness.
Like I said, I had been aware of this for long. The clarity in my own thought process and summoning courage brought out the boldness in me required to bring in the change.
Decluttering negative people is a long process. It does not happen overnight. It is of paramount importance to decide and chart out the process. Random efforts can be more discouraging, rather than being positive or effective. It is imperative to consider certain things such as be prepared for failures. At times, I even questioned, is it all worth it? And, there is no guarantee of support from family and friends that we all expect.
Sometimes, it felt like a lonely battle that I was losing every inch of the way. But let me tell you right now, it was worth the fight—every minute and every effort that was put in.
Here are some of the things that helped me:
I cannot eliminate the physical presence of certain people in my life. Invariably, I would meet them with family or at my workplace. As I accepted this fact, I also realized that I had given them too much power over myself. So, it was only I who could take that power back.
The best process that worked for me was to slowly distance my thoughts and mind from them.
I remember there was a time in my life when I would have whole conversations with them in my head only, framing each answer again and again. It was so damn exhausting. I was snapping all the time. I knew I had to break that pattern for my own sanity.
Being aware of my own thoughts and actions helped a lot. Every time my thoughts would start to go down the rabbit hole, I would gently steer them toward a positive direction.
The trick is not to deny those feelings, but accept them and give them a positive direction.
Being aware and present in the moment helps to bring consciousness to the forefront.
A simple habit of positive affirmations and self-love first thing in the morning can pave the way for a wonderful day. It sets the mind in a productive way. I remind myself of these positive affirmations as many times as needed, throughout the day. These gentle reminders are sure to build up positivity inside oneself.
Questioning one’s own behavior
I often find that we miss out on questioning our own beliefs.
No actual change can happen until we change ourselves. In fact, that is the only change we can aim for.
I focussed on identifying my own insecurities, and asked myself:
>> Why do people have such power over me?
>> Why do I need their validation?
>> Am I happy with myself?
I did not find the straight answers right away, but eventually, they emerged. As I gained more and more clarity, the process of decluttering became easier because my focus shifted from my insecurities to myself.
My aim was to build my inner strength to a level where I could get the power back in my hands.
My happiness is my business and no one else’s.
Expectations and dealings
One of the most important things that I changed was my own expectations. Why should I expect someone else to be happy for me? Or, to appreciate what I am doing? I do something because it is important to me, and not to prove something to them.
The best reaction one can give these people is no reaction at all. They feed on our reactions, positive or negative. I stopped resisting them, stopped fighting them, and instead channeled my energy toward self-improvement.
I accepted who they were and moved on. It is not worth spending another second thinking about them. By accepting them, I mean that they are there and that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. No rationalizations or reasoning needed.
Accepting oneself with all our strengths and flaws
Here, I want to emphasize accepting and appreciating one’s strengths. We tend to accept our flaws, which is good, but we need to learn to be grateful for our strengths too.
We need to embrace ourselves wholeheartedly. Be proud of our strengths, and never shy away from them.
When we try to become something that we are not, it is a huge drain on our inner resources. I learned to value my inner energies and to be wise in using them.
The human mind is wired to give attention to negative things, but all we need to do is look around us with open eyes and an open mind. This is how we start to see the many positive influences in life—maybe our kids, or spouse, or a friend who will always cheer for us. I started to pay attention to them. Counted my blessings. Built a circle of people who were genuine and honest—there are plenty out there.
There is never a better time to start than now. These are small, little things that helped me a ton.
Finally, I strived to be kind to myself, love myself a little more, and forgive myself even more.