I've been trying to think of something to write as my first post for a while. I always have thousands of ideas floating in my head, I feel inspired one minute and then it sort of dissipates. Or I just don't feel I've collected enough conclusive thoughts to write about X topic.
I wrote the journal entry about what it means to trust yourself about two weeks ago, but the content was a bit to personal even for me to share. So I came here tonight and wrote down a few ideas that have been 'inspiring' to me lately and realize they are all connected to that same journal entry. I found a way to share with you all and I'm going to try to organize those thoughts with you as best as I can--organizing my own thoughts is a challenge.
What does it mean to trust yourself?
I've had this theory about myself for a long time: I am really good at reading others. Some may call it intuition or going with your gut. I felt I had the ability to feel what others are feeling and therefore predict outcomes with the people around me. However, in my journey the last few years, I noticed that there was a flaw in my system: this seemed like a cycle and I often felt like an outsider. I knew I was a good person at heart and had the best intentions, but I never understood why it was so difficult for me to maintain relationships with others.
And let me tell you, being hyper aware of your surroundings, editing yourself based on those 'feelings', on top of dealing with your own thoughts--exhausting!
I'm not saying that my intuition is broken or that I am incapable of 'reading the room', I still believe that. However, the extent to which I let it rule how I acted around others is what led to the turmoil.
Just a few weeks ago, when I wrote this journal entry, I was still confused. I thought I was supposed to trust myself. But if I actually trust myself, that means that about 99% of the people I meet were no good and that was a statistic that I could not get behind.
Some of my close friends and family might say, "stop blaming yourself for everything." While I appreciate the support, this was not about blaming myself. This is one of those situations where just because you have 'good intentions', doesn't mean everyone has to follow suit. I wasn't presenting myself as someone who was authentic because, as I said, I was -unknowingly- editing myself to appease any negative emotion I might have felt from others. This is another case of people pleasing.
I never thought of myself as a people pleaser, I'm actually one who speaks out quite frequently, the squeaky wheel if you please. I often like to let others know that I am 'doing it on my own': Ms. Independent. But I guess people pleasing comes in all shapes.
So, to answer my question, trusting myself comes when you are confident enough to be yourself. That includes not worrying about what mood Susan and John are in today. It could have nothing to do with you (you aren't the center of the universe), it could have everything to do with you. But why does it matter? If you aren't receiving positivity, why pay it any mind?
Trusting myself when I wasn't confident enough to just be alone for a while or set boundaries with a potential partner, led to a lot of self-sabotage and self-fulfilling prophecies. And again, I didn't view myself this way, I felt like I was just trying to be nice, understanding, accommodating--in hopes I would be accepted. All great things to be, but at the expense of sacrificing your identity and your needs, not so great.
In times when we are the most lonely, things like this can happen. Feeling starved for the correct kind of attention, wanting a connection (friendship included), you'll almost do anything. I just hid that fact from myself, conscious me would never stoop so low, but subconscious me knew what was up. I'm not going to beat myself up for being so hyper aware of myself and my surroundings. But at least now I know that there are times in life where you have to be alone, sometimes being super nice won't get you the friendships and relationships you want. If you hadn't noticed already, life seems to get a bit easier and things just seem to fall in your lap when you are just focused on yourself.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies & Self-Sabotage
"I knew it! He has tattoos, he's in shape; she never invites me out, she gossips all the time. See I told you so, connect all the dots from point A-Z, I should've trusted myself!"
I'd say this a lot throughout my life. Maybe I was right, but I think sometimes we can enter into situations we are familiar with just to prove ourselves right. Or we can even sabotage a completely innocent situation based on those previous experiences. It's a pretty sadistic cycle to put yourself through.
The self-fulfilling prophecy and the need to control everything. There's a certain comfort in knowing the outcome, it feels empowering, it's control. While I haven't quite made the connection yet, I don't doubt that I may walk into situations because they are familiar because I can predict the outcome, even if it is painful. After recognizing that I liked to control everything in my life, I've definitely pulled back and relaxed. There's so much to be said here, it deserves a post for itself.
Assuming you know how a situation will pan out isn't always the best mindset to have, it's good to be cautious, it's balance. But when you are in a healthy situation, you start to put on those 'too good to be true glasses' and you may not even notice yourself acting in that self-sabotaging way. I know I didn't. It happened recently. Shall I divulge? Why not...
I met someone early this year through a dating app, I really wasn't that interested at first but we bonded over our ability to speak Japanese...because he was Japanese & we shared similar music & food interests. He made it clear from day one that he was interested in a relationship and I was certainly interested in that idea. Especially because he had a clean record. lolll Listen, I've come to learn that my 'type' is someone eccentric, full of life and culture. No that doesn't require you to be a criminal, but more often than not the people who have had to struggle in some way have so much more character to them and it's appealing to me. I find it difficult to relate to those who have had everything come easy, it's not a knock, good for you, just a preference. Negotiable.
I was pretty thrown off when things started going south. I started panicking (in silence). When I tried speaking up about what my needs and wants were, I hesitated, I crumbled. I spoke up but I was all over the place. I was nervous that this person wouldn't accept me or see me as desperate. Long story short, he tried to pull the slow fade, but I asked for an answer. I never really got one, it was vague. I was so perplexed, I knew his feelings had changed but I couldn't figure out why. I eventually chalked it up to the 'stupid dating apps' and 'he lied and just wanted sex'. I really honestly don't know the answer, but I do know that at the halfway point, when I started feeling this person pull away, I was no longer myself. I felt it, I was nervous around him, I couldn't be myself anymore, I was trying so hard not to say or do the wrong thing that I ended up doing it anyway. I'm not saying the end was all do to me, but I think it was a contributing factor. It may have ended either way, but eitherrr way if I had just given myself a little more time to build up my confidence I may not have sabotaged this and better yet, myself. A confident person also knows that rejection is inevitable and we all make mistakes.
Furthermore, you teach people how to treat you. I had a tendency to ask for advice all the time (part of not trusting myself) to make absolute sure (having control) I was making the best decision. I'd spend so much time researching something before I made any decision in life. When you do this, it may seem responsible and commendable. It's that balance factor though, doing this too much actually just makes you seem unsure of yourself, which means that people can't really trust you, you aren't actually reliable. They may not say it verbally, but it's conditioning, like Pavlov's experiment, it's subconscious.
It's not always an easy task, there's a time to ask questions and there's a time to keep your personal decisions to yourself. No one wants to befriend someone who seems unstable, not even me.
Bonus: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
Continuing on the ideas of trusting yourself in your wants/needs, teaching others how to treat you, I'd like to invite you to the concepts discussed in Steve Harvey's book. It was written in 2009, a little outdated but even the concepts may have seemed outdated to those reading back in '09. I listened to it via my Kindle app. I haven't read an entire book since the Twilight series. Granted, I did skip an irrelevant chapter or two.
I can see this generation and the next cringing (feminists unite, open relationship enthusiasts pick up your pitchforks...or just chill) at the advice Steve gives, but I think it sets a great foundation for women--and maybe even men. Essentially the book discusses monogamous heterosexual relationships, men and women down to a social science. Point blank, Steve says men are simple, their role in the relationship is to provide and protect and they love sex! He's not saying people aren't unique and that women can't have the same feelings, but in general men and women are science.
Steve essentially says women need to set their standards/boundaries and set them early on, as early in the first weeks of dating. In addition, not giving up your 'cookie' for 90 days. He acknowledges that there are successful relationships that didn't follow the 90-day rule, but they are rare. And let's be honest. It's true. I hear so many women these days complaining about ending up in casual relationships, men doing half-ass work. Men are even seeming to shy away from any solid commitments and I honestly think it's because women are slacking with their sticking to their standards--men too.
I'm not closed off to the idea of fwb, casual relationships, or polyamory. I know it exists and if it works for you, great. But I think the majority of the population prefer the traditional monogamous relationship.
Women think if they ask for what they want, or don't put out at a certain point, their potential partner will leave. They let fear take the wheel and drive. Some think they have a 'diamond in the rough', that's usually not the case. I don't know why this never clicked with me before, maybe I just needed to experience it a few times, but do NOT be afraid of someone walking away. Your needs/wants/standards/boundaries is your filter to the right person. You don't want to be in a long term partnership with someone who can't meet your basic needs.
People will try to downplay it, they'll tell you you're picky, they'll say you complain too much. But the bottom line is you are looking for someone to make you happy, not your friends, mom, or your boss.
As for men, I suspect there is a sense of normalcy to them around 'casual' dating. Of course they would, anyone would take free money for little to no work, it's easy lol. So why would they put in any effort if everything is just handed to them on a platter? It's not a punishment to wait to give yourself to someone else, physically as well as emotionally (your time and mental health are of importance here too). You don't go into an interview and start talking about how often you're hungover and reveal all the intimate parts of your life. It takes time to build trust, so why give the most intimate part of yourself to a complete stranger? Yea it's fun, it's thrilling, but what's your end goal?
I can tell you with the utmost certainty that whatever requirement you ask of the person for you, there will be no resistance. I know because I've experienced both sides. I know men who would do the most ridiculous things for me just to spend time with me, to have two minutes of my time just to say 'hi'. If you have experience dating, I know you know this too. There's no waiting around to see if he/she comes around, being loyal and hoping he/she sees you are the 'ride or die'.
Earlier this summer I listened to a podcast that didn't quite make sense to me at first, but now it does: When you first start seeing someone (this can be with friendships as well), you both lay the foundation, sort of like cement. It hardens quickly. It's exciting meeting someone you vibe with and you are usually thinking, "Wow this person is great, they are just like me, where have you been?" This makes it a little hard to see the foundation but we see it. Let me tell you this happens with multiple people, everyone is great in the beginning. You have to set your boundaries early on while the cement is wet, like I said, it hardens quickly and you are just getting a taste of what is to come. Once it hardens, that's it.
If anything in life brings negativity (even just a feeling of discomfort here and there), it's not worth it. If it's not making you feel good about yourself, gracefully let it go. It's not about "men are all evil and only want one thing", rather people in general just don't fit together sometimes. If it's not a FUCK YES, move on!
In sum, just be yourself and ask for what the fuck it is that you want, it's a hell of a lot more fun than seeking out friendships and relationships with the wrong people.