“If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down.” ~Toni Morrison
Our very first relationship is the one we develop with ourselves. However, even that one is shaped by outside forces.
You may or may not believe that we choose our family. Regardless of your position regarding how your soul made it to your parents’ household, the truth is that the environment we are born into determines a great deal of the rest of our lives. This is especially true about the way we relate with ourselves and others.
We learn by observing and experiencing the dynamics in our home. Our brains absorb the discourses. The judgments passed over us and the stories told about us become a part of our personality. The words we hear from the voices around us become embedded into our inner voice.
We end up with a creation from the hands of Dr. Frankenstein: a patched up combination of voices that we later adopt as our own. That voice plays a huge role in how we develop a relationship with ourselves and, therefore, with those around us.
The outside world shaped the inner reality that, in turn, will facilitate how we relate to that outer world.
We learn from the way that our caregivers react to stress, from how they manage their anger, and how they engage in arguments.
We learn from how they treat themselves, us, and the rest of the world.
We learn about limitations and about fear.
We learn to worry and to lie.
We learn to yell out and to bottle it all in.
We learn to over-react and to act like leaves at the mercy of the wind.
We learn to micromanage and to be oblivious to life.
We can learn the extremes. However, we can also learn balance.
What is your vision for yourself? I’m talking about a real life vision, not about your annual income goal, or your income-to-debt ratio, or that degree you’ve been meaning to get. I’m not talking about the car you want or the trip you’ve dreamed of. Not that those things are bad or meaningless; they’re simply not a vision, they’re goals.
What I am asking is: What is your vision? What state of being do you wish to create for yourself? What kind of relationships to you want to nurture? How do you want to feel?
My parents did their best to give me the best they had to give. I learned about hard work, being of service in the community, and believing in the divine. However, I did not develop anger management and conflict resolution skills, calming strategies, a healthy self-concept, or effective communication and decision-making skills.
In other words, I was a typical clueless adult who was able to make money and run the rat race functionally. But I knew very little of myself, or how to develop healthy relationships with myself and others.
As a matter of fact, I had no idea what healthy relationships looked and felt like. This led to a bumpy road that involved quite a few panic attacks, aggression, toxic relationships, isolation, and a social media and sugar addiction. The details of my journey are truly irrelevant. However, the lessons gained do have value.
It started with answering questions I had never asked myself. Also, tools such as meditation, counseling, spiritual work, a lot of reading, journaling, praying, and developing a support village assisted me in the journey.
Being open to the process is quintessential. So, I invite you to address the following questions with an open heart and observe your thoughts about yourself and others.
Take note of the things you visualize on a daily basis. Do your visualizations match your vision? Or are they hindering it?
What does a healthy relationship with yourself feel like?
How about the conversations you have with yourself? How did that voice form?
Where do these stories about yourself come from? Are you truly that person?
How is your relationship with yourself? Are you hyper-critical? Do you “bash” on yourself? Or do you make excuses for yourself?
What type of relationships do you envision for your journey?
What type of narratives do you create in your mind with those who surround you? Do you imagine arguments? Do you mentally practice “come back phrases”? Do you spend time rehearsing irrelevant hypothetical situations? Do you declare negative labels on the rest of the world?
Your early caregivers started the work of raising you, but you are the one responsible for continuing it. We are never done growing. You are not done. The universe is not done with you. Now it’s your turn to help yourself create the reality you envision for yourself.