This article, and the corresponding video, is a mental health check reflection on 2020 and what behaviors and attitudes not to carry over into 2021.
There are times we want to feel needed, desired, or even validated. So, we engage in behaviors to fulfill those desires while not realizing it’s detrimental to our mental health.
It starts off in an innocent way, usually in elementary school or in high school for late bloomers. We become people pleasers to gain attention from someone we like who doesn’t notice us. We may start smoking to fit in with a certain crowd. We may take up a sport to be physically closer to someone we want to emulate. Those examples may give us a false sense of belonging. Once the event or activity is over, we’re back to being irrelevant to that person or group. It’s obvious those we’re seeking attention from don’t take an interest in our life outside of the “common” activity.
It gets worse as we get older. We may begin having sex so a person will like us and we think they’ll stay with us. We find out they only wanted sex from us and once they had it, they move on to someone else. We’ve inadvertently given consent for someone to use us. We thought we’d gain something. The reality is, we gave a part of ourself a way for nothing in return except a few moments of (hopeful) physical pleasure.
There’s times when we think, “If I can help this person overcome their troubles, they’ll like me and realize I’m good for them. They’ll stay with me because I’m useful to them.” Useful to what extent? Useful at what cost to your own mental health? Have we stopped to think how that person will view us once we’re no longer useful to them?
All of the above behaviors speak to toxic interactions with others and it begins in our own mind. Caring and doing things for someone who don’t reciprocate our feelings is toxic. We’re not thinking of what’s good for us. We don’t think about how is this benefiting us, not in a selfish way but a way that fills us up after we’ve emptied ourselves into someone else’s life. It’s toxic on our part to continue pouring into someone’s life who doesn’t reciprocate. Let’s discontinue our own toxic patterns of behaviors and attitudes. Let’s work on seeing ourselves the say way we’re learning to recognize inappropriate or toxic behaviors in others.
We need to create and maintain a healthy set of boundaries. We need to stop giving consent for others to use us for their benefit. We need to stop allowing others to live rent free in our thoughts. We need to not seek validation or acceptance from those who don’t genuinely care about us or, in the least, like us for who we are. We need to realize the importance of putting our mental health ahead of anyone or anything else. If we’re not our best, we’re not going to perform at our best, and we’re not going to be able to present our best selves to others.
We should pay more attention to who reciprocates the care and attention we give them. They’re the ones we should keep in our lives. People who won’t tell us what we want to hear, but will tell us what we need to hear. People we can confide in and they do the same with us.
There are different levels of what we consider a “friend” to be. Regardless of what type of friend a person is, we still need to maintain our personal, relational, physical, spiritual, and psychological boundaries with them. First and foremost, we need to take care of ourselves.
Let’s not feel bad or like we’re being selfish. Recognize who’s good for us and remove from our lives those who aren’t. This year has been challenging and the new year will start off carrying over situations from the last. So, it’s up to us to remove as much negativity and toxicity from our lives as we can, so we can have the energy and mental stamina to be the best we can be.
1. What are some behaviors you have that you know you need to discontinue to be your best self in the coming year?
2. What was the defining moment when you realized you needed to change?
I look forward to reading your comments.
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