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161 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?
Two things for you to think about
Learn to be happy alone. Then you will never have a reason to associate with people who make you feel worse.
If you set a boundary with someone and they leave. That’s good. The boundary worked. The point of boundaries isn’t to “fix” relationships. It’s to protect your mental and emotional health from toxic relationships. Sometimes that happens by healing the relationship. Other times that happens by losing the relationship.
Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.
Three things for you to ask yourself
What relationships in your life are draining you rather than invigorating you?
Think about the dynamic in those relationships that are draining you. How much of it is because you feel that you are giving up too much and/or they are taking too much?
What can you do to stand up to that? What can you do to stand up for yourself?
Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.
One thing for you to try this week
Set a boundary in one of your relationships this week. The process is simple:
- Decide what you will and will not accept in the relationship. Decide on the consequences if the person does not respect your decision.
- Communicate the expectations clearly, without judgment.
- If necessary, follow through.
Then email me and tell me how it went.
(If you need help understanding and establishing boundaries, I recommend my course on healthy relationships.)
Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.
Last week’s breakthroughs
Last week’s email was about how comparison doesn’t have to be the thief of happiness. Your task for the week was to find something admirable and inspiring in somebody and tell it to them.
Doing this gave one reader a new perspective on life:
I actually had this happen this morning. I’ve always compared myself to my extended family. I was never good enough or wealthy enough. Keeping up with the Joneses.
I reached out to a cousin to tell her how much I truly admire how she can manage a toddler and a blooming career having just taken a step back in my own career to be more family focused. She admitted it meant emails nights and weekends and I realized money and careers aren’t the only source of value.
I truly do admire her and her hard work, but I was also able to acknowledge that it’s too much for me at this point in my life.
Rachel turned an oppressive comparison into a motivating admiration:
I really look up to a certain vlogger who inspired me to begin my own channel last year. After posting my first video, I immediately caved to feeling less-than and thought, ‘Why would I do this when someone is already doing what I want and with better equipment? I’ll never be successful like her.’
Well, I think if I kept trying to visualize myself as her, I’d never make it anywhere. She worked really hard for years, and I was comparing my beginning with her very successful middle.
I finally realized what my restlessness was all about. In truth, I didn’t want to be her. I didn’t even want her life. What I admired was her motivation, her positive disposition and her genuineness, and those are all things that I can cultivate to fit my own life, my own art, where my perspectives and talents can shine.
It was really refreshing to finally look at her through a different lens this year; as a creator that I don’t want to be, but that I enjoy looking up to to encourage myself. I have just this one life to tend to as well as a set of gifts that I should be honing if I want to have my own version of success.
A couple emails ago, I asked you to seek out some productive anxiety. Last week, Mike wrote to share how facing his anxiety made him new friends:
I live in the heart of a busy city with a nationally known homeless epidemic. I have come to fear the presence of fentanyl addicts yelling at stoplights and overdosing outside of my daughter’s favorite ice cream shop. I’ve had enough experiences with wild-eyed strangers asking for money that it created an anxiety around interacting with them.
This week, I chose to take out my iPods and engage any person who approached me, regardless of my anxiety around the encounter. I engaged with a group of three individuals living on the street, and had a wonderful conversation. They discussed how higher taxes and rent (“gentrification” as the kids say) had pushed them out of their homes. They enjoy smoking pot, but don’t shoot dope, and actually clean up every needle they see left by other non-housed folks who are “making it hard for the rest of us out here.” We discussed how important conversations like ours are to connect people on a human level, a connection that my anxiety over these individuals caused me to forget about.
At the end, I shook their hands, exchanged names. I assumed they’d ask me for money, but one of the men actually offered to give me a dollar for the cigarettes I’d given them. I look forward to crossing paths with Darrel, Kat, and Matt again.
If you have a breakthrough from an older email like Mike, don’t hesitate to send it in. The assignments are weekly, but this isn’t school and there’s not, like, a submission deadline or something. Share your story whenever it happens.
As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.
Until next week,