Finding sunshine in a cloudy life - Mental Health

Getting your house in order

Getting things in order is a frequent topic here in this blog. Whether it is clutter in my kitchen, clutter in general, doing All The Things, or doing any of All The Things, bringing order from chaos is my lofty (too lofty?) goal.

While I am still waist-deep in ordering our home’s chaotic areas, today’s post is NOT literally about getting your house in order. Instead, it’s about getting things straight in your life.

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.

Robert Tew

When you read those words, is there a person, situation, or story you wish you could leave in your dust? Or, do you belong to Camp Hooey (as in, that’s a load of)?

Whether you are ready to write off this post as pop-psychology, woo-woo garbage OR you are poised and ready to write that Dear John/Dear Jane letter, stop for a moment.

First, allow me to offer a second quote for your consideration.

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

Wait — didn’t I just say this is NOT about a tidy home?

Yes. Yes, I did. So why did I add in the golden rule of de-cluttering a house?

There is a good reason that getting your house in order is a metaphor for getting things straight in your life. The process is startlingly similar.

In our lives, as in our homes, we can only thrive when we are not surrounded by rubbish. Here’s the tricky bit: in our lives, as in our homes, we must correctly identify what qualifies as rubbish.

Deciding what to keep in your home or your life is dependent on what is important to you. Some people would choose the bear, while others would choose the bobbins.

Before you choose a side regarding Robert Tew’s statement on self-respect, it is helpful to define the phrase, “what doesn’t serve you.” Too often, it is misconstrued to mean, “what doesn’t feel good right now.” Yet, these two concepts are NOT synonymous.

Much as we might wish otherwise, discomfort often means that we are growing. Growth doesn’t always feel good when it is happening, yet our lives are better afterward.

Last September, I wrote of a painful choice I had to make regarding some young family members. I could choose to accept a relationship with them that was filtered through a person with whom I had continual conflict; or, I could hold out hope that we might someday have the opportunity to build an authentic relationship.

When moments like this arise, it is of paramount importance not to sacrifice your true happiness for comfort and the empty illusion of happiness. These decisions are often extremely uncomfortable — but your comfort zone doesn’t propel you to happiness. It doesn’t propel you anywhere. It wants you to stay right exactly where you are, experiencing what you have always experienced because it feels safe and familiar.

The difference between comfort and happiness, A Sunny Focus

This was a classic case of choosing to walk away from that which did not serve my highest good.

Did it feel good at the time? Absolutely not. The choice I made that day stirred up feelings of intense sadness. I spent a lot of time grieving the loss of those children from my present life.

Since coming to terms with that choice, however, I have been utterly free of agony I once considered unavoidable. For literally years I had been blaming myself and the other adult involved for my absence from the lives of those children.

Those years of my life were marred by guilt, anger, and blame. None of those feelings changed the reality of the situation. All they did was bring me pain. Of course, I lament all the years spent out of contact with the children, but it is no longer a knife twisting in my heart.

What if you find yourself unhappy because you are unable to get along with your partner, boss, or coworkers? What if you’re not feeling rewarded by your work? It seems intuitive that those situations aren’t serving you, does it not?

As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I feel compelled to reveal an unpleasant truth: unhappiness is not automatically a reason to cut and run.

When I decided to dedicate myself to writing this blog, my head was filled with visions of readers sharing feelings of validation and support; visions of partnering with companies with compatible principles; visions of dancing sugar plums.

Okay, maybe there were no sugar plum visions, but the rest of those thoughts gave me the fuel I needed to grow my skills and knowledge. They inspired me to sit down at my computer week after week to share my message. They gave me the chutzpah to make my struggles public by giving those struggles a higher meaning.

Today, those visions are still mostly only that — visions. I haven’t received a single letter telling me that my story inspired hope. Not only has my door not been beaten down by companies wanting to work with me, no one has even rapped politely. My daily encounters with shame, perfectionism, and self-castigation rarely feel fraught with meaning. Usually, they just feel rotten.

The truth is, some days I am ready to walk away from what I’m doing. Cutting and running appeals to me sometimes, and I even have good reasons.

If I walk away from my blog, I no longer have to pay for my website. All the time I spend on writing, editing, photographing, posting on social media will be freed up. I won’t be looking for evidence that I’m making a difference to my readers — no blog, no readers.

Think about it. I’m not earning any money. I have no proof that what I write is adding value to the world. I don’t even know what a sugar plum is, but I’m absolutely certain I couldn’t make one dance no matter how well-written I am. This situation, my job, clearly is not serving me. Right?!

Think again.

I am not only a better writer than I was before I started this journey, but I’m a better communicator in all ways. Naturally, I still have times of unhappiness, but this platform is a place for me to re-frame them.

This re-framing process provides content for my blog and, perhaps most importantly, it transforms my perception of those moments. Once I have written about them, they are no longer examples of pointless misery. They have transformed into opportunities to live life differently.

There’s more to life than a dopamine buzz. And, who knows? I may already have helped the next quantum physicist to weather a rough time. She’s probably already on her way to forming that unified field theory that stumped Einstein. (The butterfly effect is weird, man.)

photo courtesy of Jacqueline Williams

There are absolutely times when walking away is the correct answer. I can’t stress this enough. If you are being harassed, or physically or mentally abused, get out of that situation.

An uncomfortable situation is radically different from one of abuse and harassment. If you are not sure which of these applies to your predicament, please talk to a professional who can help you sort it out. Make no mistake; a history of being abused in this manner can warp your perception to the point where you cannot discern the difference.

Even in cases where you are neither being abused nor harassed, making a break from your past might be the correct choice. However, if you have not made changes within yourself, you are apt to land in similar circumstances.

This is because the part of your life that is not serving you is not solely your partner, your coworkers, or your boss. Ultimately, what you need to leave in your dust is the acceptance of an unbalanced relationship.

In a balanced relationship, everyone involved benefits in equal measure. Some days you will give more than you get, and other days you will need more than you can give. Eventually, it all comes out in the wash.

This is what it means to respect yourself. When you accept nothing less than this level of respect, your house will finally be in order.

We live more comfortably in an ordered house, real or metaphorical. Take the time to identify the rubbish in your life. If you don’t believe it to be beautiful or know it to be useful, it is highly suspect.

Brightest blessings, Sunny

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