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“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” ~ Coco Chanel
Imagine this: you have just shifted to a new place and it’s not set up yet.
You don’t have a proper kitchen, nor do you know how to cook. You don’t even have any cooking appliances or utensils. Nothing.
What will you do?
You will look for some alternatives, right?
Let’s say you’re far away from the city and there aren’t any restaurants around, just one house. It’s late at night, you’ve just arrived, and you’re extremely hungry.
Given the circumstances, you would probably approach your neighbor and request them for some help.
Your neighbors are nice enough to let you in and offer some food. You eat the food, thank them, and head back, and on the way back you realize that your stomach is hurting.
It dawns on you that the food you just ate didn’t suit you.
But that was the best option you had, right?
Till your apartment is in the process of getting set up, you begin to rely on your neighbors for your food troubles. They happily oblige. However, their food doesn’t seem to be suiting you. Sometimes it even tastes awfully bad, but you gulp it down anyway.
This scenario will go on till you find another way of dealing with your situation. The one that doesn’t need you to be dependent on them—and their food that doesn’t suit you.
That’s what happens in relationships as well.
When we don’t have a sense of self-identity, values, and what we want to stand for, we will always rely on someone else’s opinion of us; and because we would want their opinion to be “nice,” if it isn’t, we won’t be able to digest that either.
So when we are actually taking things personally, we are essentially choosing to fill our stomachs with the kind of food that’s not suiting our system, over and over again, and letting that tank it every now and then.
Basically, we are relying on others’ opinions of us and making them our own. And then we either accept that as our truth and let it color our beliefs, or we spend our energies in trying to convince them otherwise.
Both are futile activities. The first one is akin to pushing ourselves to eat the food that is toxic, i.e. seeking validation from all those people who essentially see us in a different light based on their evaluations, judgments, and deductions. And the second one is tied to us trying to get the neighbor to learn to cook differently against their will, just so we can get the type of food that suits us.
But if we learn how to cook or have arrangements in place to take care of our own needs, we wouldn’t need to rely on anyone else, would we?
Not taking things personally then simply means that “their opinion of me is not my opinion of me.”
It means gracefully declining the neighbor’s invitation and not ending up eating that toxic food, i.e. not getting sucked into the version of you that others have in their mind.
It simply means creating a dividing line that says, “Your opinion of me is yours” and “My opinion of me is mine”—and not taking the other person’s opinions, judgments, and statements to shape our own reality.
But to be able to really create that distinction within us, we first need to define who we are. What is my opinion of me? What kind of a person do I think I am or want to be? What values do I stand for?
We need to open all the doors that lead us to our own self.
We need to come home to ourselves and say—
This is who I am. This is me.
“Humble as ever but aware of my value.” ~ Anonymous