I have learned a huge lesson this month. One that seems simple and straightforward, but one I have resisted for years and years (decades, even!)
Let me sum it up for you:
If you guide your behavior by paying attention to the way someone else feels about your behavior...then YOU ARE POWERLESS.
This means taking action without worrying about other people's reaction to your action.
This means that you might not meet the 1950s dictionary definition of "nice". It might mean that you are the very epitome of the 1950s dictionary definition of "mean".
This is hard for me. This might be hard for most women, and even some men (because men are people too).
I am referring, on a large scale, to our close, personal, intimate relationships (not about large actions that would affect a community).
Let me give you an example: have you ever led someone on romantically because you felt too "mean" to just ignore a text message or email from a would be (or past) suitor (even though ignoring is just what you wanted to do)? Did you worry that they would perceive you as mean, and you just want to be seen as nice (we all want to be liked)? So you answer them, or accidentally encourage, or go on dates you do not want to go on because you just want things to go well, be drama free, no one to get hurt? (note to self: these types of situations really aren't supposed to go "well").
Here is another example: have you ever told someone that you are not interested in a relationship. So, they ask if you can just be friends instead. You have your doubts. But, to be "nice", you say sure! (even though you know that they harbor romantic feelings for you (or vice versa))? Thus, making every time you are with them uncomfortable and awkward?
What about the time you say yes to things you really do not want to do because you are worried how the other person will respond if you say no (even though your gut is saying NO!)
Why do we do this? Why do we not trust our guts? Why do we not do what we actually want to do? Even if it makes us "mean"? Sure, we could blame it on being raised in a religious setting that teaches women to be sugar and spice and every thing nice (um, I think that is society in general, not just religious society). Sure we could blame our docile mother who just baked cookies and smiled through all the things she did that she did not want to do. Sure, we could blame it on ourselves--we overreact! We are overly sensitive! We are paranoid! Maybe the guy is nice! Just give things a chance! Maybe you are wrong. It is easier just to say yes! --So, yes, I guess you just blame yourself and now stop doing it!
Why do we second guess every first decision we want to make?
How would your life be different if you did not second guess? No apologies.
Someone asks you out and you do not want to go, so you just say no (without the fear that you should say yes because the world tells you that you are a spinster and that you need to get married).
This is classic fear-based behavior--What will people think of me? What if I hurt their feelings? What if they tell other people I was mean or crazy or that I overreacted? That I am too much drama? That I am difficult? That I am hard to please? That I have too high of expectations?
I challenge each of you to notice things that you are doing that you do not want to be doing. It is not fair to yourself, or to the person you are in a relationship with, to continue to do these things. Even if that means ending the relationship. And you have to have enough faith in your feelings and emotions to let them guide you. Be true to them. And you have to have enough faith in the other person to realize that they are capable of dealing, and moving on, and finding a better life path.
And if we all did that, the world would be a more honest place. A better place. A happier place.
Look out world. I am doing what I want to do, and I am no longer afraid what you might think of it.