I’ve been on the losing end of far too many relationships, and for the longest time, I thought they owed me what I deserve. I have since learned that you have to earn it.
The only twist to this story, is that you don’t earn what you deserve by going out of your way to please the other person/party, or reducing yourself to near nothing in trying to keep their attention on yourself or earn favours. I’m sure you’ve come across the saying that “the person who wields power in the relationship is often the one who cares less”.
From experience, I have learned that it isn’t that they care less really; unless they just aren’t into you, but the truth is they have a real identity away from you, while you have built your world around them. You have to be firm in who you are and what you represent, if you want to be accorded what you say you want and deserve.
Be firm in the sense that, away from the other person or party, you have an identity of your own. You have a strong belief system in yourself. You have a vision for yourself and your life. You have clear principles that cut across all aspects of your life consistently. And this person represents what will help you achieve what you’re working towards. That way, they will feel valued and have a reason to come back to you. Who wouldn’t want to add glitters to someone’s life, and be acknowledged for it?
This cuts across all types of relationships. Corporate(work) relationships, intimate relationships, friendships and family. In all these, there is always someone in charge. The other person, you’ll often find, has less to bring to the table. They’ve either been misguided to think that doing extra for the other party will earn you favour from them, or they are just ignorant that they are doing everything wrong.
At home, and for the longest time, I was always at odds with my immediate family, not because they don’t love me and I them, but because ultimately, I had less to offer. In the long run, I always felt disliked by them and that they didn’t really care for me. I didn’t feel like they “heard” me. The validation I so desired from them, and maybe even deserved, just wasn’t coming my way. Well, now I know, they were only being human.
It wasn’t until I took a step back and cut myself off to reflect on me, that I started having honest conversations with some of them and actually feel “heard”. Because of how long it had been going on, I had to completely shut off. They didn’t take it well, at first, and maybe still don’t appreciate it but the healing I am experiencing is far more than I knew I needed.
Away from the pressure of having to prove myself, I’m discovering that the answer has always been in having an identity of my own. When they don’t see what you stand for, they will label you anything they want, knowingly or unknowingly, which will always cause conflict.
In the corporate world, we often behave the same way. After all, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, right?? We walk into the workplace like it owes us a living. In actual sense, we ought to earn it through our contribution. What do you bring to the table?
In a corporate training I attended earlier this year, the facilitator made an illustration using a venn diagram. See below;
A = Personal development goals.
B = Organisational development goals.
AnB = where the two meet and exchange value
Your personal development goals have to be clear, therefore, if you are to be deserving of anything from the organisation you work with. They have to see what you bring to the table. Away from the learned skills, what attributes do you possess as a person? What goals do you have for yourself and where does the organisation fit in helping you get closer to achieving them? You have to be firm with this, lest you will be thrown off balance and start acting like the world owes you a life.
I’m now learning that this is even more important if you’re going to lead a life of self employment or freelancing.
When you understand this, you will clearly see where you stand and save both your time and that of the other party or person. I had this realisation with my most recent employer, and it ached my heart to stay where I knew I could no longer contribute adequately. This led to a number of honest conversations with my employer and eventually a mutual agreement that it was time for me to move on. I’m grateful that I found this out in time, because it would have hurt to burn that bridge. Now I am at at peace knowing I have family there, forever. We’ll always celebrate the milestones whose foundation I contributed to. I’m proud.
Now with fellow humans, its the most disheartening of all. Our “expectations” metre is too high that we keep falling and crashing so badly, breeding unnecessary resentment and hatred that would have otherwise been avoided. For some people, being without a romantic relationship is unacceptable. The people around us aren’t any help, they demand a spouse like it’s your sole purpose on earth. None of them ever pauses to assess if you are truly ready for such a long term commitment, in terms of what attributes have been groomed in you which will help you build and nurture a healthy relationship long term.
I’ve learned that when you do not know who you are and where you’re going, it’s often hard to relate with another, because they won’t add value to your life nor you to theirs. What this leads to, is a weariness in your spirit because you feel like you’re giving too much and not getting back what you think you should. Or things are plain not working out between you. Expectations will be unrealistic and you’ll be incapable of commitment.
This is where I call upon all of us to reflect. Single or married, we all need to pause and think about where we are in our relationships. Are you happy? This is a personal responsibility, by the way, no one else can make you happy. And if you’re not, why? Where did you go off track? What did you do? What didn’t you do?
Most often, you’ll find that what you didn’t do is to define who you are and what you stand for and what what you really want. Principles, goals and dreams, gifts and talents, attributes. These then help you be deliberate about who you journey with going forward. If it’s marriage, what kind of person do you need to help you achieve what you’re working towards long term? Do you need an encourager? A social person? A more laid back person to counter your hyped nature? Someone with tighter financial principles since you tend to carelessly spend? Who do you need?
And most importantly, what are their goals and dreams, gifts and talents, principles and attributes? Where do you fit in their life and will help them achieve their own goals?
If we keep approaching relationships for the sole purpose of being married, we’ll have even more broken people than we can help. What’s happening is that everyone is busy chasing what they don’t really know in the name of survival, that they aren’t helping the younger generation (their children) to live purposefully and avoid chasing the wind in the future. The more wind chasers we have, the more our nation fails us.
This has contributed a lot to an increase in mental health cases like depression. It all starts with us, then we can help another.
I’ve since resolved to be clear about who I am and where I am going, in order to attract only the people that will help me go farther on this journey, as opposed to sitting in the corner whining about what’s not manifesting in my life. I want that person in the corner with me to be a genuine friend, who will help me ask the right questions and find answers to them, so that in the end, I have a progressive life. And I, too, will be that friend for them. I’m grateful for my special people, they haven’t let me off the hook, and I am better now, thanks to their support.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the workplace, re-assess. The organisation you’re working for won’t think twice about letting you go if they are the first to see that you aren’t adding value. It’s the worst feeling being fired or asked to resign over performance issues. Do yourself a favour, figure this out asap, and take the next best move forward, before you start taking shortcuts that will ruin your reputation. Sit down and list your personal development goals, review your appointment letter and the company manual to remind yourself of the company’s development goals, where do you sync? That intersection is where your value addition is. Both to the organisation and the organisation to you. Be clear.
If it’s family, yes, they too are a relationship and you can take a break. Clearly state why you will be emotionally unavailable. This may be hard if you are the family provider (dad and mum) but it’s important for them if you are in your best shape. What will it benefit them if you crumble and can’t meet their needs anymore? You have to take care of yourself as much as you take care of them. You need “Me time” everyday to re-assess and re-align yourself to benefit everyone.
Friendships are very critical. We have seen friends who tear each other down when something goes sour between them, huh! Clearly, some things were not clarified in the beginning, otherwise, there would be more understanding and compassion. So yes, dig through this list too. Some people are better off as acquaintances, valuable only when you need each other. Otherwise, steer clear. Better safe than sorry.
Then the jackpot; romantic relationships. Let’s save ourselves the heartaches. It’s disheartening reading posts like “Ladies, men are using us as booty call” or “Women today are corporate prostitutes”. We can do better by ourselves. You don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend to survive. You can actually be single and fulfilled. And while you look for the one you will share your life with and build a family with, have clarity of the journey ahead. Be deliberate to find that person whose life you can add value to and who will add value to yours. It’s frustrating when year in, year out, nothing is improving in your lives. Then you’ll start blaming your partner for all that’s not working or worse, start looking for it in someone else, at the expense of your own relationship/marriage. Even more, you will feel like you’re doing too much for the relationship and the other person is taking you for granted. You can turn things around if you really want it. Define who you are away from your partner. That’s where your power lies.
When you have an identity of your own, you will know what you can and won’t tolerate in the other person, thereby earning the respect and commitment you deserve.
When you have a clear vision of where you are going, you will ably find the help you need and understand your partner’s shortcomings and how to fill in the gaps, that way saving yourself the frustration of feeling stuck and unsupported by them.
When you understand your personal development goals versus the other person’s, you will not enter an undefined relationship that will waste your time. Many have been left after so many years of dating and they feel betrayed. That says you didn’t pay attention in the first place. You ignored the signs. I’ve been here, and boy, does it suck. We now know better.
I’m still learning. I’m still making mistakes. I’m human and my needs still influence my choices, many times I still fail on this journey. But we push through it all and never give up this self improvement task.
Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.