I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I accept this fact and am perfectly okay if someone thinks that I am a “bit much” or too “something.” I find myself in the fortunate position of having a great many people in my life who think that I am a good friend, partner, colleague etc. and I am deeply grateful for all of those people. There was a time however, that having conflict or feeling disliked by someone would have deeply impacted me and left me feeling frustrated, sad, angry or would have sent me into a tailspin. And while I would love to tell you that I no longer struggle in my relationships with people, that would be totally inaccurate, and since I refuse to lie to you sweet reader, I choose to offer you some steps that you can follow to find peace in challenging relationships you might face in your own life.
A Chameleon on a Hamster Wheel
Did that image resonate? I hope so, but I did just make it up. I promise to explain. Once upon a time, I used to try to be everything to everyone. I would change my mind, clothes, opinion to keep others happy. I would put so much effort into being liked or accepted in order to avoid conflict or to maintain the peace in my relationships. This would work for a while but eventually I would lose the steam that it takes to keep everyone around me happy and my inner voice would scream at me to simply be me. It took a long time for me to listen to that voice but it was my ticket off the hamster wheel and allowed me to fully embrace the person that I was hiding or diluting.
It All Comes Down to You
Spoiler alert: you are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. You may be more like a strong cup of organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee and that will ruffle some feathers. How can you still find the freedom to be yourself and enjoy peace in challenging relationships? When I finally stopped changing my colours to keep others happy, I was able to reconnect with my inner voice and strengthen my relationship to myself. The cost of hiding who I was simply became too much. This made it impossible to put the chameleon suit back on and gave me the confidence to speak my mind, create boundaries and start to fully live my life. So there it is: just do that…..I kid. The most difficult part of my evolution was taking this version of myself, the part of me that I had hid or ignored for so long, out into the world. It was also the most freeing thing.
Why We Struggle
The thing about creating a life you love and fully embracing who you are is that it will absolutely challenge people around you. I often talk about this with clients and I experience this myself. There comes a point in your personal evolution where you might be a lone wolf (or a bad-ass sparkly unicorn). This can be scary and may make you want to retreat from the path towards freedom, but persevere because being a chameleon is exhausting and the world needs you to be exactly who you are. You should shine. You should be successful and happy and joyful and hilarious and charming and a great dancer. The world needs more shiny, happy, charming, funny dancers. We need more joy. You will challenge people with your freedom and you will inspire others. You will find your people and they will support you and you can have peace in the relationships where you still feel challenged.
How to Find Peace in Challenging Relationships
- Heal – I probably sound like a broken record with my ever-present invitation to find healing in your life. It is vital however to cultivating peace in challenging relationships. My need to change who I was to be accepted and liked, was a reflection of pain that I had not yet healed. I needed to heal my relationship to myself, learn to trust my inner voice and accept who I was and am becoming in order to have the confidence to fully own my voice and the life I was/am creating.
- Practice Acceptance – there is nothing more freeing than being who you are. There is nothing more peaceful than accepting people for exactly who they are. Peace exists in acceptance of the moment, the person, the circumstance. Perhaps there is a relationship that you are currently struggling with. Are you wishing things were different? Are you trying to control an outcome or change something about the person? What would happen if you created space for acceptance in that relationship? Try imagining what would happen if you accepted the person exactly as they were or the situation for what it is. Does anything shift for you?
- Meet People Where They Are At – we are all at different stages of our personal evolution. As you embark on deepening your relationship to yourself, healing your past and trusting your inner voice, you can begin to see people in a different light. When you are challenged by someone, try not to take it personally, but try to see them where they are at. We are all in relationship to ourselves first and we are at different stages of that evolution. This means that before reacting, you can pause and ask yourself: “Is this even about me?” Taking this moment to reflect on where someone is at can save you so much conflict or heartache.
- Protect Yourself – as you embark on the magical path towards acceptance and find yourself creating a life that is meaningful and happy for you, you will challenge people that are unable to do the same. Learning to protect yourself is crucial to finding peace in these challenging relationships. Creating boundaries is often a daunting task but necessary to protect yourself from other people’s bad energy. I encourage you to think about it less as cutting people out and more as creating a little space to keep yourself safe. Having compassion and acceptance for a person that challenges you in an immediate gateway to peace.
- Do You Want to Win or Be At Peace? – I used to wear my stubbornness as a warm blanket. It may have kept me safe but it certainly cost me a lot in the process. So much unnecessary struggle came as a result of needing to be right or to “win.” Ask yourself what is more important to you: being at peace or winning when you are faced with a challenging person or relationship. You can waste so much of your precious life force in conflict that is oftentimes unnecessary if you choose to be at peace instead. It may cost you a little pride but it will give you so much peace in those challenging relationships.
I enjoy so much peace and joy in most of my interactions with the human race. I make time to connect with random strangers in the grocery store and I make friends in the most random places. I am also challenged in relationships. I have been attacked for being me and while that is painful, I have been able to find peace in those relationships because I have peace in my relationship to myself. I have so much more patience and compassion for people because I know that we are all doing the best we can and the way that we show up in relationship to others is directly reflective of how we feel about ourselves. If someone is unkind to me I can withstand the bruise simply because I know that it really isn’t about me. I can send love and compassion and my wish for them, as well as for you sweet reader, is that we can come to a place of peace in our own hearts first and in doing so, create a ripple of healing and compassion that impacts the lives of everyone around us. This is powerful. This is a revolution.