I’ve been reading a lot, about being caught in an emotionally strenuous state, be it relationships or tight spaces of any form that you may find yourself in. Where that state begins, the in-between, its ending and your part in the latter are important to note in order to move forward. Most of the platforms I come across stress that it is not your fault – that you are not the problem. I beg to differ though. You could be half of it, at least, and you need to remain open to that idea. I have come across a few approaches that I have found useful whenever faced with struggles in human interaction and various types of relationships. The greatest adversity I have faced comes with the struggle of dealing with myself. The following tips have and continue to serve as a guide to help me acknowledge the problems I am faced with as well as the part I play in them:
- Make peace with yourself first
- Make Choice your favourite flavour
- Find Someone to trust
- Allow yourself to see, think and feel differently
- Recall how you felt, honestly
- Try to absorb slowly
- Learn to let go
Make peace with yourself first
For all the flaws and beauty you are made of that you will one day meet, brace yourself. And on the days when your yin and yang can finally lay down together, in harmony, you will have found you. Start preparing a bed today. Let your inner parts meet and get to know one another like children under one roof, (entangled in blood and bond).
We give and we take certain things in – all too well in the name of love and for the sake of peace. There still seems to be, for me, an implicit reward which promises to follow after all the hard work, after the dedication, after the sacrifice and investment of giving.
A past thought, one that slips my mind once too often, comes to mind:
Spend a lot of time doing what feels most necessary to you. No one will ever thank you enough for spinning off your axis to keep them in balance
No amount of thanks seems to ever be enough for any sacrifice. If it will do nothing for you, the chances are high that you will recall or worse – begin to tally up all the times that you have shown up for a loved one against the times they have managed to pitch up for you. The gift of love is said to come in a range of forms, be it material or otherwise – this involves your time and energy among other things. If you are not fully at peace with whatever gift of love you decide to give, receiving thanks becomes a necessity more than it does a cherry on top. The cherry on top definitely evokes more appreciation – give any kid ice-cream instead of broccoli some time to put my theory to the test. Hands down, the ice-cream takes it every time.
Make Choice your favourite flavour
Just as gratitude is a choice, so is deciding to give. Givers often seem all too obliged. We forget that on the other side of catering to everyone else’s needs, lies catering for our own. I am always forced to acknowledge this – when I feel a little robbed for having given more and been thanked a whole lot less – I could’ve said no. I give because it is a choice; I love because it is a choice.
Find Someone to trust
Reading ‘Dear God, This Is Anna’ and ‘The Hope Line’, a product of the Dawson McAllister Network, reminded me of how accessible God remains. Living in my own bubble takes me away from that. But Anna gave me a nudge in the right direction – just a jovial kid, who constantly finds herself troubled in the lessons she has to learn while growing up, yet she still manages to keep God on call while making time for a little joy in her life. She shares her love and wisdom with Fynn and his family even as she faces an urge to withdraw from all the questions overwhelming her as her world starts to open up. From the time we meet Anna, at her most naïve point, she maintains that some of her sadness will only be truly seen and unpacked by Mr God. And somehow that resonates with me.
As the one who has mapped out the different paths that will lead to my authentic self, I figure keeping my creator in the loop keeps me at ease.
Talking to someone you absolutely trust, being able and comfortable enough to share my deepest hopes and fears – it does something for me, keeps my spirits lifted and lighter really.
Allow yourself to see, think and feel differently
It’s refreshing seeing the world through kind, bare eyes, where trying to judge whoever’s hurt you stops feeling so necessary and forgiveness becomes a necessity. The moment when you remember your deepest philosophies and find that they still anchor you truly does present a moment of relief. The key is to strike the balance between grasping some lessons quickly while being patient with your overall progress, as it may have its fair share of relapses too. Grief; the loss of the things you once knew to be true – these seemingly low points push me beyond my limits – they force me to hold onto the most important things at that moment. Now during a time of feeling burdened, I try to unpack as much as possible, because holding onto anything for too long can become tiresome. Holding onto baggage for too long also has the tendency of making you accustomed to taking on loads that are not yours to carry. It becomes an unhealthy default mode, and because you have always been strong, it become easy to fall into the cycle of letting it continue, but that serves you until when?
You will keep running into the one who hurt you until you quit demonizing or idolising them too much
Like the five stages of grief it is all a process. Let it run its course.
Recall how you felt, honestly
Once you give yourself the chance to look at something that you love with honesty, from the outside and slowly admit your shortcomings in the gift you were giving with all your heart, you start to wonder, do I really deserve the sort of love I give? What was my part in this concoction of love? Did it have the outcome of a nasty hangover or a mellow feeling? It’ll help to keep in mind that nothing is ever completely either/or, so that you are able to unpack exactly which of the moments of your experience left you feeling toxic and which left you in a mellow state.
From understanding how a lot of situations or encounters leave you feeling, you are able to then grasp where it is you may fall short. The people in your life may be at polar opposites about a single trait you possess, so you may find that while others are unsettled by it, some will come to admire it. Yet still, it all boils down to you.
How are you feeling about that trait? I for one may never explicitly detest a said trait about myself, but I know which moments have made me cringe and spaz out into song at the thought of an icky revelation, just to block it out
Try to absorb slowly
Even in the silence, the nothingness, among the revelations, remember to pace yourself. Try to absorb slowly.
Spend time internalising your moments of impact, recognising the way something makes you holistically feel. Although I do try in certain instances to leave a thought alone until it passes, its source or the moment preceding it does tend to hover at the back of my mind. And in the period of compiling an autopsy, I am able to acknowledge these moments that shaped the rest of the relationship. The trick here is to give it time. The desperation to diagnose a situation can leave you worse off if done without fair judgement or without all the facts considered. If you are faced with silence at that point, it is also your responsibility to stay mindful of the impact the silence or lack of answers has on you at that moment.
Learn to let go
We’re so good at holding onto ourselves, so we know how to handle anything in future as we always have. I tend to think, if my thinking has gotten me this far, I must be doing something right, right? Careful still! Doing something right will not equate to doing everything right, and recognising the various variables we need to tweak with every experience can feel like a tedious process – akin to identifying that hay in the haystack. Thus making the safety that comes with holding on so tightly alluring.
Recently, I’ve learnt to speak my mind with the people I love, and it leaves me feeling so exposed. But sure, I figure, if I let all of me out there, with no fear, then I will have to let it be so, let all of me sit in the sun, with no shame, until it’s an ordinary thing. I will have to learn to speak my mind. Tell my truth. With no shame getting in the way of me expressing myself. Giving myself that leeway should teach me to do the same for those I encounter. It’s a learning process. And where there is room for learning, there is room for growth. I encourage you to spend time making your room bigger too, no matter the discomfort it may bring.
Akani Fuko is here to offer an appreciation of the commotion we’re brought up in and the lessons it inevitably comes with. I reckon the hot mess that seems to persist in our lives may offer each one of us a unique take on life that only seeks to enrich our authentic selves. The gift of perceiving life through humour and constant reflection remains one my life’s truest forms of compensation, to say the least.