You might be wondering why this topic is appearing under a category typically saved for how-to’s on making cheese and keeping your budget under control. Valid question! (and here’s my answer…)
When I sit down to think about making my life more sustainable, it isn’t just about learning to grow my own food and fixing the toaster. Getting my mental and social states into some healthier patterns is also high on my list.
For instance, people who know me well know that sometimes it takes an act of god (or pie) to get me out of my little nest. My natural state is fairly introverted and I have a bad habit of going absolute days without seeing another soul (especially true when my husband is traveling) and not even thinking twice about it.
For the most part, this isn’t because I don’t genuinely like my friends. I really do know some amazing people, and feel incredibly lucky for that. However, sometimes when getting home from a group function, I feel mentally exhausted. Not always, mind you, but often enough that on occasion I find myself guiltily dreading get-togethers that I know I should look forward to. One of the things I wanted to improve in this next year was figuring out why that happens and how to stop it.
As luck would have it, I was doing a search for Vampire Power (no, not Twilight related, the power that is still used when a device is “off” but not unplugged) and ran across this blog post from Glass of Win.
Let 2010 be the year that you endeavor to assure that all of the relationships you are involved in are mutually positive, healthy and respectful.
Well that got my attention, for sure! She then goes on to list a series of questions that you should ask yourself about each of your relationships and elaborates on those questions. This particular passage really struck home for me:
There is a big difference between minding your manners versus completely suppressing your personality for the sake of keeping “peace” in a relationship. That’s not peacekeeping; it’s a hostile hostage situation and not even Batman can rescue you. If this person cannot handle thoughts/views/opinions that differ from their own and are leaving you in a constant state of nervous vigilance, it is time to call forth your inner hostage negotiator and get yourself out of this emotional/psychological landmine.
Wow. See, I was raised to be polite to people in public. I was also raised to avoid conflict. I know a lot of my friends were raised this same way, because we’ve talked about the problems it can cause. When the author talks about landmines up there, that’s exactly what it feels like for me. It’s polite, polite, no-conflict, make-nice, until one day my brain just melts under it all and I explode. That’s not healthy for anyone.
Bottom line, this whole article has a lot of good wisdom in it, and the timing just couldn’t be better for me. In addition to figuring out how to have better friendships, it’s also made me think about how other people might view ME as a friend. There are definitely some things I could change in that regard, not the least of which is to stop hibernating so much and make more of an effort to let the people that I do admire know that I enjoy their company. I also definitely need to learn to end bad relationships before they get to the point of driving me insane, making mutual friends uncomfortable, or I give up on entire groups because it’s too much stress to interact with the person in question. In general, I need to be better about not just trusting my instincts and questioning my assumptions, but in interacting more fully with the world outside Wanderland…