Have you ever felt like you are surrounded by people whose goal it is to constantly tear you down? Do you constantly interact with people or accounts that make you second guess your worth? Are there avoidable scenarios that you continue to put yourself into because you feel obligated? Do you find the joy being sucked out of you at a rate that you can’t control? Are you drowning in negativity? What if I told you that you can eliminate some of the bad energy from your life, and you’ll be much happier because of it?
As I have gotten older, I have placed greater importance on what I like to call “protecting my peace.” No, it’s not about being selfish, unreliable, or even anti-social. Instead, it is the ultimate practice of self-love through the prioritization of your mental health. I am an observer of behavior (hence, the psychology degrees) and I began to pinpoint the areas of my life that no longer brought me joy (as Marie Kondo would say). You only get one life, why should you have to spend it increasingly despondent?
Here are my tips on how you can better protect your peace:
Make Yourself a Priority
There is a story that Rachel Hollis tells that illustrates one of the mental downfalls of women. She asked a bunch of women to list out their priorities, and not one of them included themselves on the list. This evolves into a metaphor about the filling of a vase. Imagine a vase filling up with water (love/positivity) from a faucet. Women (as the vase) tend to want to tip their resources into others, taking herself outside of the pathway of the faucet. The more she tips and pours out, the less water the mouth of the vase is able to capture from the faucet. However, if the vase remains still and is allowed to be filled with water, eventually the water will start to overfill the vase and flow freely out to others. All this to say, if you make yourself a priority and allow yourself to fill with love and positivity, then you can freely share your resources with others because you’ll have more than enough to go around.
How do you make yourself a priority? Make it a point to schedule time for yourself. Find an hour in the day to do something that makes you happy or encourages growth. Even if that means waking up earlier than you usually would.
Learn to Say No
If you’re anything like me, then you struggle with the idea of people pleasing. Or, the larger idea that if you say no, the requester will no longer love you or want to work with you. Not only have I found that not to be the case, but I have come to the conclusion that worrying about that is a waste of brain space. Especially if you said no to protect your peace. If a proposition doesn’t immediately fill you with excitement or align with the vision that you have for your life, then it’s a no. Now is a good time to mention that this is applicable in your personal life and free time. I am not suggesting that you should go all Marie Kondo at work and overthrow your boss because his requests don’t spark joy.
Do you follow any accounts that results in one of the following emotions when you see a post: anger, overwhelming jealousy, inadequacy, incompetence, or other general sadness? UNFOLLOW THEM! As with most media, we are constantly exposed to images that can influence the way that we think about ourselves. The difference is, with social media we are in control of what content we expose ourselves to. If an account is disrupting your peace, remove it from your scroll.
There are going to be negative people or situations in your life that you won’t be able to completely avoid. My advice is to create some distance. Limiting the amount of interaction with the force that disrupts your peace will lessen the negative impact on your life and maybe even make the heart grow fonder. If it is a person, then it is also important to reinforce positive interactions (again, psychology).
Surround Yourself with Positivity
Ok, now that you have done the hard task of evaluating what does and does not bring you peace, it’s time to incorporate as many good things into your life as possible. Find the most positive people that you know and catch some of the water from their vase (oh yeah, the vase metaphor is back). Seek out experiences and tools that will help you in your personal growth journey. Practice gratitude. In essence, fill your vase and eventually you’ll be able to share your water with others.
Take some time this week to practice some self-love, whatever that looks like to you.