“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Does purposefully surrounding yourself with people who will lift you higher; people who encourage you and strengthen you sound like a selfish thing to do? Can you imagine the alternative?
No, most of us don’t have to imagine the alternative, because most of us live it. I know I do. Or, rather, up until now, I have.
When I was little it was family members who would discourage me from my dreams, telling me that I really didn’t have the talent or skill for this or that endeavor, or that what I was attempting was not something that a “good Christian girl” would do. If I pursued my activities I would then have to put up with the disappointment of those same family members and see the hurt and pain in their eyes that I wasn’t living up to their expectations. And so I would sigh and tuck away my dreams.
When I was older it was my teachers, friends or boyfriends that would discourage me from attempting what they saw as ill-conceived or inadvisable options. And what did I do? I would go ahead with them anyway, until of course someone looked at me again with that pain in their eyes, and then I would crumble. OK, ok. I’ll fold. Just stop looking at me like that. I want you to LIKE me, to LOVE me, not to be disappointed by me. And then I got married and the whole process started over again.
So why am I speaking in the past tense? Because I have decided that I am finished with the negativity. I have to be.
You see, the negativity of those who discourage, demean or belittle me and my desire to become the truest version of myself are not serving me. And there – right there – is where I usually get a twinge of guilt. The very term “not serving me” just reeks of self-centeredness, doesn’t it?
But there comes a point in your life where you realize that as much as you care about the people in your life; and as much as you want them to be happy, there is something that is more important, and that is that you be true to your real self no matter how others feel about it.
This isn’t selfishness; at least it isn’t selfishness in the traditional definition of the word. No, this is taking care of what you need in order to learn and grow and become, and let’s face it, without growth things tend to stagnate and grow stale. That includes everything from your personal life to your relationships with others, so no matter what, there really is no point in spending your energy trying to maintain the status quo.
Of course those negative individuals in your life who encourage you NOT to change would be glad of change IF (and only if) you were to change in the direction that they wish to see you go. What scares them is that you are changing in ways that make them uncomfortable, which is why they fight against it so hard. But a moment of reflection should show you that change to make someone else happy is actually counterproductive. Yes, the other person may rest easier knowing that you will not break out in ways that they cannot or will not allow themselves to understand. But you will be just as unhappy having changed into something that you are NOT as you were unhappy to remain in a stagnant or stale situation.
Actually, you will be unhappier having changed in a direction that is at odds with your soul purpose; even unhappier than you would be simply staying put and resisting the urge to become who and what you really are.
No. The truth of the matter is that you HAVE to follow your instincts and intuition if you are going to truly live your life and not simply treat it as some sort of spectator sport.
At the risk of sounding cliché, you have to follow your heart. If it leads you in a direction that others find uncomfortable enough, they will move on or move out of your life to a place where they feel more comfortable and where the people and things live up to their expectations.
So when I talk about surrounding yourself with those who will lift you up (and not pull you down) I’m not talking about walking away from people or situations that do not serve you. Instead, what I am saying is that you need to stop giving those people and situations that you find energy draining or negative to the point of depression, your attention.
Just stop. They are not worth the effort of either fighting their negativity or the effort of changing yourself in order to please them. They do not serve you.
So focus on what does serve you; on those things that bring you joy and that fill your life with the wonder and mystery that feeds your soul. Focus on those things that encourage you to grow and become who and what you truly are, and watch your life as it changes for the better.
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