Monday 6 February 2012

"Sticks and Stones (and sand)"

Has someone ever hurt your feelings? Maybe they said something that made you so angry that you wanted to yell or you felt so sad that you wanted to cry. But instead of saying something, you held it inside. You think to yourself, well, I could tell them how I feel but that might upset them, they might be mad at me - they might feel hurt. Maybe they matter more.

What about work? Have you ever had a job where you just felt like you were going through the motions and not really contributing anything? Did you dread Monday morning - and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday?  Have you ever worked for a company that you just didn't believe in? Maybe the product wasn't quite right or the way that it was sold didn't feel good to you?

I had an interesting conversation with someone at work today whom I greatly respect and admire, both professionally and personally. While the conversation started out about work and a specific task, we ended up speaking about personal integrity. I was reminded again of why I so admire her. I admire her because she has examined her life, at home and at work, and has drawn a line in the sand. She has made a conscious decision to commit herself to a life that has meaning and purpose to her.

Last summer when I was in such despair there was a moment when I made a decision. I decided to fight with all my might for a better life, a life full of contentment, growth, strength, and love. Without even realizing it, I began to draw some lines in the sand. As I have mentioned before, some friendships were let go because they weren't healthy for me - they didn't fill my bucket. I also took a long look at my career and the job that I was in. Although the company is wonderful and I believe in the vision, the work that I was doing at the time didn't lift me up. Instead, it left me drained and I began to dread work.

We are all familiar the metaphor of drawing a line in the sand. But what does it really mean? It's about setting personal boundaries. It's about self respect and believing in yourself. It's about recognizing what is important to you in your life and not settling for less. From the book The Rules of Life by Richard Templar, Templar says this about setting boundaries, "The more secure you become with your boundaries, the less power other people will have to affect you. The more clearly defined your boundaries, the more you realize that other people's stuff is more to do with them and less to do with you - you stop taking things so personally."

I had gotten to a place with the depression where I believed other people were smarter and better at pretty much everything in life. I recently looked back at my diary from the summer when the depression was at its worst and a consistent theme was worrying about what other people thought. Not about the depression, by the way, but what they thought about the quality of my work or me as a person. Not exactly healthy. Thankfully, my psychiatrist was slow and steady and helped me, along with the use of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), to realize that I had to start believing in myself and sorting out what was truly of value in my life. Now, if someone two cubicles over doesn't like me, I'm kind of OK with that (baby steps, right?!). But my niece and nephew? They are who really matter to me.

One thing that I have learnt after years of traversing the peaks and valleys of my depression is that there comes a point when you have to put yourself first. Sometimes, most of the time actually, you need to believe in yourself. I set some boundaries and allowed myself some time to feel comfortable with them. And I feel so much happier because of it. So pick up a stick, draw a line, and then wiggle your toes in the sand. Feels good, doesn't it?

KB xo

1 comment:

  1. Another great post KB. I 100% believe in putting yourself first. Obviously not in an egotistical way but in a personal integrity kind of way. How we be anything to anyone else if we aren't there for ourselves first. I'm grateful that you are doing the work that feeds your soul. And here you are months later mentoring others :-)))))


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