It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
This month’s blog post is very personal, and I’ve been quiet about this area of my life because the truth is that I don’t have answers. And, those who know me well, know I love answers. I’ve tried to find them, but I only find more questions. Uncertainty and confusion walk alongside me nearly every day, making me feel very uncomfortable and exposed. But I feel drawn to share some insights I’ve had over the past few months about pleasing people and finding our true selves.
My father suffers from dementia, maybe Alzheimer’s. I don’t always get straight answers. I only know what I know based on the quality of the information I’ve been given, but no one can say for sure until after death. All I know for sure is that the man I see today is different than the man I knew yesterday. Tomorrow will be a different day too. Nothing’s certain with dementia. Then again, nothing’s ever been certain with my dad.
He's always been a hard to please man. Even when I thought I was being rebellious and didn’t care about his approval, deep down I was always seeking it. Second guessing every decision I made. Making life choices that I can’t say I fully owned as mine because I wanted to please him. Please everyone, if I’m being completely truthful.
Our parents bring us into this existence. They’re our first influences, setting the tone for how we thrive. As children, we naturally want their praise. As we get older praise, love, and acceptance tangle up into one big ball of a self-limiting, pleasing mentality.
Unraveling ourselves from this tangled ball of parental acceptance is necessary to make a life your own, but it’s not easy.
It was about a three months ago, after a stressful and angry phone call with my dad that I realized how I was still seeking acceptance even at 41. Then, when I cooled down, I felt this incredible sadness and realization that all I’ve done to please this man over the years isn’t going to matter in the end. All the accomplishments I achieved. All the ways in which I succeeded and failed hold no weight because eventually he won’t remember. The man’s still rather sharp, and what he remembers and forgets continues to baffle me. Yet, I know, if the doctors are right, everything will blur into an unrecognizable life, for him, my mom, my brother, and me.
I feel called to share this with you because that day I realized how important it is to live our lives for ourselves. Don’t sacrifice happiness because of how others perceive your actions. As long as you live your truth and don’t hurt others, then what could you possibly be doing wrong?
Take leaps of faith and believe in your ability to thrive untangled from that ball of self-limiting parental expectations.
I have daughters. Am I always going to agree with the choices they make? It doesn’t really matter because, eventually, I won’t be here. They’ll be left to navigate the paths they’ve chosen. If they aren’t comfortable walking the path, how will they thrive?
Whether we’re little kids or forty-one-year-olds with children, jobs, and a multitude of conflicting responsibilities, we still drag with us the residual effects of parental approval. What if we let go of that? What does that look like?
I bet it looks like a beautiful tapestry of unique experiences and authentic self. That’s a life worth moving toward, so get moving. Don’t waste the little time we have.
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