I saw this image on the internet this morning and it caught my attention as a timely reminder of the importance of letting go. Of knowing that I can’t always make it okay for other people, I can’t always keep on giving or solving others problems relentlessly in the hope of being liked or respected in return. It is not my job to do that beyond a point at which I am comfortable or able to without detriment to myself. I hold both hands up and admit I am hopeless at setting my personal boundaries and have a long history of allowing people to invade my personal space when I didn’t want them to. I have changed and moulded myself to suit others and to say yes when really I mean a loud and definite no. I have often found myself giving far beyond the point of what is needed or what is healthy and always regardless of how the recipient treats me. On my journey towards setting important boundaries and living a life that is true to who I am, not who I feel I ought to be, I have come to know that I did those things in order to feel a greater sense of self worth.
Day by day I am learning that I don’t need to give just because someone asks me to do so. I know that true giving comes from the heart and not from neediness or a feeling of obligation. I can decline respectfully when I need to and hold something back for me. I can say no with politeness and grace and choose to say yes to my needs instead of throwing them to the wind in favour of pleasing others. As I practice the art of saying no and of letting go where my fear asks me to give more when really it is not my place to do so, I am learning a new form of self respect and worth. And interestingly I then have more to give and I do so freely with a huge sense of joy and love.
What made me write about this was hearing from someone in my past whom I had stopped being in touch with a long time ago. There had been much hurt between us; that person had turned my life upside down and left me and my life in tatters for me to rebuild. Until now, they had held back from offering any apology or compassion. That person had walked away when I was on my knees and they hadn’t looked back. They had got in touch two years down the line to apologise and wished to renew our friendship. I suspect that fairly radical and recent changes in their own life had brought about a sense of wanting to find peace and heal their past – great stuff. I am appreciative of that apology and it must have taken courage to get in touch. The old version of me would have leapt to be their friend and make it okay for them. A part of me wanted to do so, almost did as much, and then suddenly I realised one simple fact.
It is no longer my responsibility
It is not my responsibility to heal their wounds and offer soothing words (which may not have been needed or asked for anyway). They didn’t jump a puddle for me when I was in much need of support (or wellingtons) and yet there I was, for just a moment, willing to cross oceans again to help them. Today I chose to say thank you and no, politely, and I reigned myself in from trying to fix it for them. I wished them well with a genuine sense of compassion in my heart and let them go with love and hope for their future. And the best bit of doing so? It feels fantastic. I am amazed and in awe of the fact that a simple two letter word NO can bring such peace. I am in my wellies, I have drawn a mark in the sand called ‘my personal boundary’ and I am merrily skipping onwards. May you have a lovely day, draw your own line in the sand if you need to, and practice saying no.