Friday, 8 April 2016

Everyday happiness series - what we accept, we get

Here's a new post for my everyday happiness - series, this time discussing how we actively co-create our lives by a mere act of accepting. The previous parts are 1# - How to be happier? and 2# - How to quit worrying and envying?

Teaching #3: what we accept, we get

Or, the standards you pass by, are the standards you accept.

How many times have you thought - why am I being treated this poorly or unfairly? Chances are, in average life, that at least a few. Hopefully not every day. But if you think that way every day, this post is definitely for you.

Let's start with a story about my own life. I migrated to Australia with my then-husband (whom I found in my early 20's) years ago, but due to a number of things - huge personality clashes being the major issue - we ended up separating pretty soon after the relocation. I was in a new country with only a handful of (not-yet-so-close) friends, away from all the familiar safety nets such as my family and old friends. To get back on my feet and to manage financially, I decided to find a flatmate.

This flatmate was found quickly and on the outside, she was the sweetest, sunniest thing you can imagine. However, I soon learned that I had walked into a trap. She had her own reasons to live with a flatmate and those reasons revolved around having a crutch to lean on in everything - housework, socialising, and taking care of all of her practical and emotional issues.

Within three months, our cohabitation had spiralled into coercion by emotional blackmail - not a day went by I didn't hear "everyone else would do this for me", "a true friend would do this", "if you were a decent person, you'd do this", etc. The expected tasks ranged from scrubbing the toilet floor, doing her grocery shopping and putting together her IKEA furniture to inviting her to every single social gathering I went (she didn't seem to have many friends of her own, despite the social media appearances).

At first I was happy to help, because I thought it would be a win-win and give-give situation. Of course I can pick a few things in the supermarket for her, too, while I'm there. She had a health condition, so of course I could do some of the heavier tasks. Surely she would help me in turn, too? Right?

Well, that didn't happen. Somehow it was always me doing, giving, helping, taking care of stuff. And not getting a lot in exchange, not even gratitude.

Then, Christmas came and I bought her a present - just something inexpensive as a polite token - and instead of thank you I got an angry response: "now you made me feel bad, I don't have anything for you, why did you do this!". Later on, I learned she was siphoning a portion out of our rent monies so I actually had paid more than needed. I got so fed up I moved out immediately.

The reasons why I tolerated that in the first place were: 
  • I believed her claims that "a good friend / anyone else would do this, why wouldn't you."
  • I didn't have many other people to turn to and I was afraid I'd lose the few friends I had if I actively "rebelled"- I may have been seen as a selfish person if I hadn't helped a flatmate.
  • I had a very nice apartment in the city centre I'd need to give up if I moved - there was no way I could have afforded something as nice on my own.
  • I thought "this probably is how it is for everyone, there's nothing out of the ordinary going on", regardless of the nagging feeling that I'm being taken advantage of.

Now, this is not nearly as severe as being in an abusive relationship or being bullied at work (or school), but it taught me clearly that the phrase "what we accept, we get" is true. If I had stayed, I would have got more of the same and the chances are the emotional blackmail would have spiralled to be worse. I was already losing time, effort and money, I could have been losing my self-esteem and my own life, too - she was actively undermining my dreams and tried to dig a trench between me and my brand new love interest.

I walked out of this experience just with a few surface scratches but it was an eye-opener for why people stay in relationships that are hurtful and harmful. Because it's so easy to slip into thinking that this is what everyone's life is and surely others wouldn't make a fuss out of something this insignificant. Hardly any abuser starts with a full-blown beating - it starts with small but constant undermining and emotional and mental manipulation to make you think you are in the wrong and they are in the right; and you are just being silly and selfish if you don't agree. 

But this is where everyone's inner voice comes at play. Is this right? Am I being treated right? Is this what I want for myself (or for my children/others involved)? Is this the life I dream of?

The same applies to any relationship and situation. Are you disrespected or mistreated at work? Speak up, gather evidence, gather support groups, lodge a formal complaint or leave the place. It won't get better by itself nor by accident. 

Is your partner being unfair or worse, abusive either verbally or physically? Speak up, seek help, leave if needed. I know it's not easy but it won't magically change to better. Someone must take action and if it's not you, who could it be? It won't be the abuser because they are getting exactly what they need by keeping you at bay. 

The same teaching applies to much milder everyday situations, such as someone being rude. Don't take it. Stay firm and don't let someone's lack of manners dig into your personal space. It only tells who they are, not about who you are. I personally stay away from name calling during arguments, because I want to keep the conversation or debate civil. I've never yelled at anyone "you're a fucking idiot", because I would then open the gates to be called the same. 

Here's a tarot spread to examine this topic in more depth: 
  1. What am I accepting from others I shouldn't?
  2. What action can I take to change it?
  3. How am I behaving towards others I shouldn't?
  4. What action can I take to change it?
  5. How to feel more centred and empowered?
  6. How to behave to invite better treatment towards myself?
9 Wands, Witches Tarot. Defend your truth, message and authenticity (8 Wands) with your passion, drive and motivation (Ace of Wands) - don't let anyone walk over you. We all have the same right to exist and become the best versions of ourselves. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a nice spread. I enjoyed reading your article. This is were I am right now. I am going to try this spread right now. The tricky part is going to be understanding that I can not control other people, the hard part is how to effectively assert myself and get the treatment I deserve.

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