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Monday, February 11, 2013

My Rules to Live By...



A dear friend is going through a difficult time with the man in her life, a high-powered guy who seems to relish  making her feel unimportant. Frankly, that's just pitiful because anyone who specializes in making you feel "less than" is a loser--and isn't worth your time. But sometimes we all get into situations where extricating ourselves takes time and planning. 

So I shared with her my rules for living. Maybe they'll make a difference to you, too.

1. Live your own life. No matter how busy or important the man is in your life, you need to have your own "world." It makes you more interesting, less available, and stronger. Don't do this out of spite. Do it because you only get one life, and waiting for another person to fulfill your dreams won't cut it.

2. Don't cancel things to make someone else happy. You'll feel miserable and resentful. The person you cancel for will get an inflated sense of his own power. It's a no win situation.

3. Have your own space. Virginia Wolfe was right: Every woman needs a room of her own. You need a bit of space. Everyone does.

4. Limit your exposure to toxic people. Sometimes that means driving yourself places or having money in your pocket to grab a cab and leave, if necessary. This is especially important if the guy in your life has family that you can't stand--or who can't stand you. If you are stuck in a place, with yucky people, they will sense their power and you'll be at their mercy. Always have an exit plan. Always.

5. Increase your exposure to loving people. Work to maintain and keep relationships with those who value you! (My sister Jane is great at this.) 

6. Don't take things personally. Other people have their own problems, and if you look for a personal slant, you only hurt yourself. Think like Forrest Gump. When someone was mean to him, he said, "Gee, that person is having a bad day." He never turned the other person's negativity into a personal insult.

7. Forget logic. People aren't logical. Even if they are very cerebral, they act out of emotions. Most importantly, when people feel threatened or small, they revert to their lowest selves. They act like children. Recognize this and you'll be able to discount their bad behavior, knowing that it's coming from a place of fear and loss.

8. Savor the good. Anticipate good things. Always have events on your calendar to look forward to. Daydream about those coming events. Take photos when you're there--and review the happy moments. Too often we spend more time and effort rehashing the negative than anticipating and remembering the good.

9. Dump the bad. Our minds are like a big pan of Jell-o. When you constantly revisit the bad and ugly, you pour a measuring cup of hot water into the pan. You dig a deep channel. The more you revisit that bad memory, the deeper you engrave it into your brain. Is that really what you want to do? No! So don't keep repeating all of life's hurts and bad memories. You're only making yourself miserable. (If you doubt this, think about how you feel AFTER you've shared that bad memory. Yucky, right? That's your body saying, "Don't revisit this.")

10. Don't let someone else's bad day become your bad day. (If they were covered with dog poop, would you invite them into your house to sit on your sofa? No...well. It's like that!) 

11. Have a lot of balls in the air. That way when one drops, you have more up there to look forward to! When something doesn't pan out, holler, "NEXT!" and move on.

12. Hang in there. It's only over when you quit. Or give up. Until then, a new success is just around the corner. If you throw in the towel too soon, you'll certainly lose.

12. That said, any relationship that gives you more grief than joy is not worth maintaining. So either change the dynamic or move on.

11 comments:

Peggy O'Neill said...

Thank you, Joanna, for such an insightful list. I will revisit it often.

Victoria's Place said...

Joanna, all these are so true. Thank you for sharing them, it is a good reminder!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

It's taken me years to think this through. I'm glad it resonated with both of you!

Dru said...

Those are some of my rules that I live by and they do help make me the person that I am today. You gave me a few new ones that I'll definitely incorporate into my life.

Barbara T. said...

Excellent. I am printing your list for future reference.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks, Dru Ann.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Barbara, I'm glad you thought these of value.

Jan said...

I love these! Isn't there a way to make sure everyone gets a copy at birth? We all need a vision of the way the world ought to work!

Anonymous said...

LOVE it! It's take me 65 years to get to the point where I understand and believe all that!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jan, it's more than the way it SHOULD work. It's unfortunately the way it does work, at least as far as I can attest!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

And Anonymous, this is why growing older is such a wonderful gift from God, isn't it? I'm happy to be a mature person. (Some days.)