The Hardest Thing I Have Given Up

Recently I did a series of long hikes with my good friend and podcast co-host Jo-Anne Gibson. It’s our fourth year hiking together and we are aware of the patterns in our conversations. I mentioned something to her and then I added, “If I am still talking about this next year call me out on it.” We had a good laugh because we've recognized this particular pattern in our lives. We generally bitch and complain about something one year. And then the next year we are ready to do something about it. And the following year, we have moved on. It’s been really encouraging to see how these changes happen and it can help us be patient with ourselves and others.

I would say the pattern looks something like this:

1. Awareness - This stage usually is dominated with complaining, bitching and whining about a person or circumstance in your life. You are unhappy with what is happening. Often this is the beginning phase of awareness and you still haven’t stepped into your own role in the problem. You see the problem as outside of yourself. You see someone else or the situation as the issue.

2. Readiness - In this stage you are aware of your role in the situation. You have moved beyond being a victim. You own your unhappiness or discontent. You are ready to make a change. You don’t want to keep talking about it. You want to do something about your situation.

3. Ending - You finally take action. You make the change. You stop talking about it and do something.

I’ve seen this pattern in my life over and over again. And so each Fall, on our long hikes, I know that the thing I am complaining about this year will eventually be resolved. All my talking about it is a way of becoming more aware of what is bothering me. It helps me get really clear on the issue - the real issue.

But there is one thing that has taken me a long time to move from awareness to readiness. One problem that I have spent all of my adult life trying to overcome. It’s my deep rooted need to be liked. It shows up in my conversation often stated as, “I don’t want to hurt X” or “I don’t want to disappoint Y.” Those things are not the real issue though. The real issue is I want to be liked. And because I want to be liked, I am not always completely transparent about who I am. At times and with certain people I feel quite compartmentalized.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness  and I highlighted this quote:

Standing alone in a hypercritical environment or standing together in the midst of difference requires one tool above all others: trust. To brave the wilderness and become the wilderness we must learn how to trust ourselves and trust others.

I’ve been thinking about trust and the need to be liked. I think they are related. Learning how to show up as myself in a situation requires courage. It is a risk. Like most of our deep rooted issues it probably has ties to my childhood. I learned that if I did things that my parents didn’t like there were dire consequences. Spending much of my adult life in a religious community with rigid rules about what was right and wrong allowed those roots to go deep. I learned not to say things that would upset someone. Being liked was being safe. 

I’m tired of talking about my need to be liked. I’m ready to take action. I’ve decided to end living a life that is compartmentalized. I’m interested in living truthfully so that we can heal the world. I think as long as we live compartmentalized lives we are disconnected from our true selves, from each other and from the earth. For me that means acting like a leader, focusing on self-development, talking about the impact my choices have on the environment and other people and contemplating the spiritual significance of all of the above. I’ll be writing about these topics. They will be themes in this blog. I’m not even 100% sure how it will all unfold. I just want to start the conversation and direct you to some of the resources that are helping me live truthfully.

The hardest thing I have ended is caring so much about what other people think. About what you think. But I know that we can’t begin something new until we are willing to end what isn’t working. I’m creating that space here. I’m trusting that you will like me. And I know that creating a safe place begins with speaking my truth.