During a recent trip to Europe I experienced the most excruciating pain that I’ve ever known. My face may not have shown it – but it was the type of pain that keeps one up at night, pacing about because no medication or treatment helped. But I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where instead of moping about difficulties, I try to find meaning. Whether I found it, or created it, it inspired this article – because one of the major contributing factors to my pain was my HANDBAG – my constant companion, which has over time become an extension of myself. I’m like a modern day Mary Poppins…my bag has everything i might need on any given day. Most women carry handbags constantly. They don’t appear to cause an obvious problem, but carry them for long periods of time (like I did while travelling) and they become a burden or in my case, a contributor to really excrucuating pain.
So this got me thinking about another type of handbag we carry; i.e. emotional handbags. Perhaps even a much bigger burden than the physical ones, they weigh us down & can cause significant stress.
So what are these things that we need to offload from our emotional handbags?
1. The first is toxic people. We all have them around us, sometimes family and sometimes disguised as friends. Notice how you feel after a conversation with someone – if you are constantly more drained than energized, it may be time to keep a distance. We can’t always avoid them completely, but we can set our own boundaries so they are not able to affect us. We often give a lot more attention to such people than they deserve. If you think about it, you may realise that we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about people who upset us the most. Sometimes instead of having a relaxing dinner, we spend the evening talking about how this person has upset us. Giving toxic people so much of our time and energy is akin to putting them on a throne and worshipping them.
We also often have ‘gaslighters’ in our lives. These are people who strategically make us unhappy by getting us to doubt ourselves. Notice those that are not happy for your success & achievements. I lost weight a few months ago, with a lot of effort. The real friends are the ones who said ‘wow Rakhi, you are looking amazing’. The gaslighters are ones who commented, ‘you’ve lost weight – ‘have you been stressed? Are you ok?’ They are the ones who, when you achieve something amazing say ‘well I chose to put my kids first’. Instead of sharing your joy, the they make it about themselves. Those that are not truly happy about themselves, find it difficult to share in others successes & intentionally or not, make it about themselves. Notice who they are and create healthy boundaries.
2. Then we have the notorious FOMO. Working with both adults and teenagers, I can confidently say that FOMO seems to affect more adults than teenagers. We don’t always have to do what everyone is doing or have what everyone has. The more confident we are in ourselves and in our own likes and dislikes, the smaller the need we will be to keep up. The pressure to keep up with every event, every place to be, every new beauty product, every new fashion trend, etc. can be exhausting. I discovered a new concept recently…I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s it’s not actually mine. The concept is JOMO – the joy of missing out. And I love it! You should be able to find joy in looking at Facebook and being happy for what a fabulous time your friends had at a party on Saturday night, without feeling that you missed out…but rather being glad that they had fun, while you were home in your pjs, eating pizza and playing board games. Because we’re individuals it makes no sense to find joy in the same place as everyone else. Joy is something unique. I love using the fable of the musk deer to illustrate our search for joy. Musk forms in the navel of the deer, and, being fascinated with the scent, the deer run around like crazy searching for the source of the scent, not knowing where it comes from. And human beings are the same when it comes to joy and happiness – seeking it in relationships, material possessions, fame, etc., when it really is something that comes from within.
If anything upsets your peace, you don’t have to do it to just to please others. Be proud of your uniqueness and be comfortable to be yourself…even if it’s not trendy.
3. The third thing we need to offload is the need to be liked and please others. You can say NO and be a good person – it’s necessary for your sanity. Women are often raised to put everyone first – children, spouses, parents, friends, etc – eventually this can burn you out, you can become resentful and an unhappy person. Your happiness lies in putting yourself first – it’s not selfish, but necessary. Make the time to do the things you love – no matter how little. Once you feel fulfilled as an individual, the benefits include being a happier wife & mother and more productive in your work. Mind you, toxic people will still convince you that you’re selfish. Those are the ones you keep at arms length.
So what should we carry in our emotional handbags?
Certainly nothing too heavy.
1. The key to your own happiness. Your joy is such a precious thing…why entrust it to someone who won’t value it as you do?
2. Your ID card – knowing who you are and what sets you apart from others – and owning that! What you do, how you dress, what you spend your money on is for your happiness -not others.
3. The intention to spread kindness. Women have it hard in life…so let’s pledge to support other women, celebrate their successes and be there for them in times of need.