Don’t Live Your Life On Other People’s Terms
I love words. They are so much more than squiggly lines on a page. They have width and depth to them. They affect our emotions. They have layers and layers of meaning. So I love when I have the chance to explore a words meaning beyond the formal dictionary definition.
Some words change meaning over time. In Biblical times the word shambles (which means a mess to me) meant the meat market. Thomas Crapper was an inventor and he invented a toilet, and in time his last name took on a whole new meaning because of his invention.
This past week I was reading an article that was really talking about decision making. It was focused around two words, Anxiety and Entitlement.
Anxiety (which is fear fully expressed) is triggered in response to the perceived threat of our values. If one of your values is around honesty, truthfulness, integrity – whatever word you choose to mean you don’t tell lies (you hate, hate, hate, being lied to), and you suspect that this value is being threatened, this would create anxiety for you. Say for example, your mom told you to lie and say she wasn’t home. You want to tell the truth, but your mom (authority figure) is telling you to lie. Do you go against your values? Or do you tell your mom no?
Anxiety lives in the space of worry about how to make the decision. You might make a trade-off for example, and “squish” the truth, telling them that she’s not available at the moment. Once you’ve compromised yourself in some way, that is when anxiety morphs into something new. It becomes resentment. “How dare mom make me tell a lie.” You blame the other person for your compromising your values, rather than taking responsibility for the decision you made.
“All of us have the privilege and responsibility of choosing our attitudes, no matter what circumstances or situations we find ourselves in. The key word here is choosing. Attitudes don’t just happen; they are the products of our choices.” – Joyce Meyer
This is where I came across a new shade of a word that we’ve heard a lot about, entitlement. For me entitlement was always about “the right” I have to something. I am entitled to an education, for example. It also has the meaning of special privileges, which is where the words “white entitlement” has come from in reflecting the ways that racism has been expressed in society. When you feel entitled to something it amplifies your anxiety, feeding it so that it grows in guilt and blaming others for your current situation in life.
This article I was reading was discussing how denying the reality of your situation is a form of entitlement — and entitlement breeds resentment. When you deny the reality of your situation, what you produce is anxiety – which is a fear of something. Going back to the example of your mom asking you to lie about her being home. Is there a more creative way to do what your mom is asking and not be lying? Can you protect your value of truth and honesty and still obey your mom?
There are probably many ways of doing this, but what came to mind for me was what if you said, “My mom can’t talk right now, but maybe I can help you?”
My mom once told one of my sisters to answer the door and say that she wasn’t home. So my sister answered the door and said, “My mom said to tell you that she’s not home”, needless to say, that was the last time my mom did that. LOL.
“Your life and how you experience it is entirely your making. Only if this absolutely sinks in, will you make the necessary changes” – Sadhguru
So lets just say that as a child you were asked to lie for your mother on a regular basis. As a result your value of truth and honesty was constantly being bombarded. Now imagine that you are in a working environment where you are being asked to lie. Telemarketing comes to mind as a kind of job that could impact a persons values for honesty.
I remember back when we still had a landline that my husband answered a call that was from a telemarketer about home loans. She said that was she was returning our call, pertaining to the refinance of our home. That we had asked to be contacted regarding reducing the mortgage payment for our home.
She went into her sales pitch and once she paused my husband asked her why she was working for a company that required that she lie with her first sentence. He told her that not only had we never contacted them regarding a refinance, but that his wife worked for a bank and that if we were interested in refinancing that is where we would do it, because of the benefits for employee loans. He suggested that she think about finding a job where every sentence she said wasn’t a lie.
She was neglecting her values, by failing to take responsibility for them. She probably blamed her job for this. She probably felt in conflict with meeting her financial obligations and keeping her job and failing to live up to her own personal values. She was probably ignoring the inner conflict, tapping it down. Her inner emotions would be in a turmoil and her whole life would be impacted. Feelings of guilt can turn into anger and rage. When you live a life in this manner, you think that you’re mad at the unreasonable demands of your job, but in reality it is because you are failing to be responsible to your own internal values.
“How people are is their choice. How I am is my choice. No matter what they do, no one can make me angry, happy, or unhappy. These are privileges I have kept to myself.” – Sadhguru
When you hate Mondays, because you hate something about your employment – it is time to take a look at your inner values. If you find yourself in a relationship either with a person or a job that is creating a lot of stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil – it is time to take a look at your inner values.
Don’t neglect them. Take responsibility for your own inner conflict, your own needs and priorities. Don’t blame others for the misery. Instead start making changes to bring your life back into connection to your inner values.
You need to create psychological safety for yourself. You need to experience the “truth” of what is happening in your life, the reality – not the story you are telling yourself and others.
The choice is always yours. You can fix yourself – make the changes in a job or a relationship by staying true to your inner values – or you can try to “fix the truth”.
Fixing the truth, or bending your values and choosing to stay in relationships with a person or a job that is not in your best interests just keeps you in conflict and misery.
“Privilege can either blind or be an eye-opener. The choice is ours.” – Renita Siqueira
- It is your Privilege to live in an “anxiety free zone”.
- It is your Privilege to “face the fears” and conquer them.
- It is your Privilege to stop being “entitled” and denying the truth and the reality of where you are.
Take a stand. Stop letting others push you into denying your values. Instead, put life on a pause. Take the time to regroup. Make the time to nurture your soul and start taking small steps to live your life from the place of your values. Always have faith that God will lead you where you need to go.