Everyone values different things in life, in different ways, in different orders of priority. Different socioeconomic status, culture, generation, gender, sexual orientation and a whole array of other ways in which society is grouped may have some bearing on what these things are and in what order they take precedent. But I think there is one thing that a majority of people would agree on. They value how they are seen or perceived by others.
Wether knowingly or unknowingly, we all do multiple things on a daily basis to conform in some way to the people we want to accept us. It may be wearing a type of outfit – religious or “on trend” – ; it may be using particular language – slang or otherwise – ; it may be working overtime – for extra money or to get a promotion… The point is we all want to be accepted, liked and approved of by our peers. Yes, I believe even the people who say they don’t care, care. Often the most.
So when it comes to ones character is it down to how others see you or how you feel you are seen by others? Or is it purely how you see yourself? The definition above “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual” does not make this any clearer does it? The example following states “running away was not in keeping with her character”; would lead me to believe it is how one is perceived by others, however how does every other Tom, Dick and Harry know exactly what mental and moral qualities the person in question presents without actually being them. I think it’s true. No one really completely knows another person, they only know what that person allows them to see. Each and every one of us has things about ourselves that we don’t share. That, I would bet on.
But what happens when everything you thought you knew about yourself is brought into question? What happens when someone who doesn’t really know you feels it is their given right to judge your character and actively engage in negatively portraying you to others due to a situation in which you have no control? This is happening to me right now. And even though as I say the person in question doesn’t know me, it still really hurts.
Now I actually can not go into detail at the risk it could make things worse in this instance, but for me it is the second time in 12 months my whole character has been brought in to question. I am trying not to give this latter experience to much air time in my head so as to not feed the negativity, but it has definitely hit some strong chords for me. The other instance I speak of was a lot closer to home and if I’m honest still takes me a lot of strength to not let it get the best of me at times.
You see, I had a close network of people around me who had “known” me a long time. Due to my relationship breakdown they decided that all fault laid with me and they would no longer have anything to do with me. It was crushing. Not only did I lose what I believed at the time to be the love of my life, I lost my family too. I now know it is for the best and I forgive them. I know they did not truly know me. I know they did not have the emotional tools to deal with the situation in any way other than how they did. I have forgiven, but the emotional scars are not forgotten.
The most confronting part of this for me though when I really got down to it in therapy, was not what these people did, said, thought or acted toward me; but the fact I allowed it to happen. I allowed people to treat me with blatant disrespect, misplaced anger, malice and intent and all the while I laid down and played the victim role that allowed it to happen. I wasn’t really angry at them. I was angry at myself.
To me, although working on my self worth and confidence has been a massive part of my growth journey, one element about myself I always held in high regard was how I genuinely like to care for and help other people. It is this same trait that has got me into some pretty hairy and at times unhealthy situations over the years. Putting my want to help or “save” others ahead of my own needs, safety and at one point my mental health. But I was so adamant that that was one of the only positive traits of my character that I could not see how it was negatively impacting me. Because despite it being an amazing quality I had it all back to front.
Now I honestly genuinely believe the saying; in order to help others, you must first help yourself. Because if you are not ok, you can’t give your best self to those around you. The people you love and care for. By taking this on board and behaving as such, my whole world has changed. I am now surrounded by people who love me for me, care for me, are there for me, let me be there for them and allow an open, honest and supportive bond to be had.
So my point. My opinion is, despite people feeling they have the right to comment and judge you based on their opinions of your character; all that matters is how you see yourself. Forget what they did. Forget what they said. Forget what you think they thought or think about you. Focus on why you either allow it to happen or continue to surround yourself with people who don’t make you feel safe loved and enough. Because you are enough. You are perfect at being you. No one else can do anything exactly as you do. You are amazing and you are unique. Be kind to yourself. The rest will follow.
Sometimes I still need to take my own advice here:) We’re all good at that aren’t we. But as they say (who the hell are these “they” people… They’re geniuses) awareness is the first step to change.
So I actually thank those people involved in the heartache within my lifetime. I thank them for showing me what I don’t want in my life and for making me look at why I attracted those experiences. Whatever they think of my character is now unimportant to me. They have the right to feel and think whatever they choose. It no longer affects me. Well on a daily basis. And in time as it has already lessened, it will eventually be negligible and obsolete.
But I choose to be grateful for all my experiences. I choose to only focus on how I see myself. I strive to be the best me I can be. For the people I love but mainly for me. And for the world. There’s a lot of good out there and I just want to add to that. In any way I can.
Live. Laugh. Love. Life
Much love, Michelle xxx