Everyone is in need of a gentle reminder sometimes; a reminder to prioritize self-love, a reminder to be present, a reminder to value what you have. Here is a list of some of my favourite little mantras that have helped me through many stages in my life, and I hope some of them can do the same for you.
You don’t have to explain yourself as much as you think you do.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks you a question and you feel the need to provide an overly complex answer in an effort to seem more considerate? If you have, it’s called over-explaining, and many of us do it (myself included). A lot of us tend to over-explain things during conversations, i.e., why we chose to do/not do something, what we like, our career or academic paths, our choices in partners, our appearance, and the list goes on and on. And most of the time, we do this because we are nervous about not feeling understood, or perhaps we feel as though the other person might pass judgement if our simple explanation is not what they’re looking for.
I often feel like the more I explain myself, the more people will understand me. I search for validation in areas that don’t necessarily require it. But if I’m being honest, a lot of the time, people who require an explanation from me probably won’t ‘get’ me anyway, so how could my attempt to overshare or over-explain really change what they think? Well, it can’t.
With that said, I think that it’s important to note the difference between necessary conversation versus unprovoked justification. In some cases, we should have the responsibility to explain ourselves. For instance, if we cancel on our friend last-minute, we should probably tell them why, rather than ghosting them. But if your reason for cancelling is something extremely personal or triggering to you, you don’t necessarily need to give your friend an essay-format description of why you chose to cancel. It’s about finding the balance of what you feel and don’t feel comfortable with sharing, that’s really it. Once you stop over-explaining yourself, you’ll have so much more space in your life to spend time doing what really matters to you.
People are not watching your every move.
This is an important one, especially for my friends out there with anxiety. I often feel like people are watching me, and I don’t mean this in the narcissistic kind of way, but in the “oh crap, I better not mess up” kind of way. If a stranger looked in my direction, I’d get extremely nervous. If I stumbled on the sidewalk, my cheeks would glow red, and I’d rush home. For the longest time (and I still have moments), I tried to avoid drawing attention to myself in public.
After a while, I realized that this was because I was making a million assumptions about what others could be thinking about me. I had to give myself a pretty harsh reality check and say, “these worries are in my head and I’m feeding into my own fear based off of what isn’t even there”.
No one is watching your every move and hoping that you mess up at some point. I don’t even remember who I walked by a few weeks ago on the street, let alone what they did. So, chances are, no one will remember if you stumble, in any of sense of the word. We’re all just doing our own thing, and there really isn’t time to judge others for simply living. Embarrassing things happen to everyone, but they don’t diminish your worth. We have to learn to be patient with ourselves and respect the fact that we’re human.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
It took me a long time to finally listen and follow this mantra, rather than just hearing and dismissing it. In the past, when people showed me who they were, I didn’t believe them the first time, or the second time, or sometimes even the third. It’s incredibly easy to let our hearts lead our lives and to be swayed by our feelings. In my opinion, the reason that we do this is to give someone an opportunity to be who we need or want them to be. But sometimes this doesn’t work out, and the person isn’t meant to be in our life. And that’s okay. You have to remember to trust yourself above all else and pay attention to these red flags.
It’s important to be observant when welcoming people into your heart, and if you need to draw the line at some point, do so. Trust what you see and how you feel because you’re the best judge of your own emotions. If someone gives you a reason to doubt their intentions, listen to that. If they show you that they are not good enough for you, they aren’t. Believe what a person demonstrates themselves to be, regardless of who they claim to be. Words need to match actions. Listen to that voice in your head and trust your intuition that if something doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.
You don’t have to change your boundaries just because someone doesn’t like them.
Boundaries are personal parameters that allow us to establish guidelines about how others can treat us. When you set boundaries, your relationships are more likely to be mutually respectful.
It’s crucial to remember that your boundaries are just that, your boundaries. So, if someone doesn’t respect them, tell that person goodbye. Even more, if someone tries to convince you to change your boundaries because they don’t agree with them, allow yourself to walk away. You should feel comfortable in all of your relationships, and if your partner, friend, family member or acquaintance is making you feel like your boundaries aren’t valued, drop them. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who don’t respect you or what you value.
Everyone is on a different path, and each one is equally respectable.
I know this might be silly to read (since I may not know you personally), but you are doing so well. And you’re exactly where you need to be right now. We all have a different path, and life isn’t a cookie cutter. In order to feel any kind of fulfilment, we have to move at our own pace and appreciate the journey. Just because your road might not be as clear as the next person’s, doesn’t make you any less worthy of respect. Your character is a reflection of your climb, and you wouldn’t be who you are today if it wasn’t for the path you’ve travelled.
As cheesy as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. Every single experience in your life will teach you something, so trust the process and live your life. There is no timer on your accomplishments. Keep doing what you’re doing, and if there are things you want to change about the way you’re living, do so for you, not for others.
Screwing up does not make you a screw-up.
Errors make us human, and humans aren’t perfect. Think about how boring this world would be if we never messed up, or stumbled, or did things we ‘shouldn’t’ do.
A few months ago, my boss said something that struck a chord with me. She said, “The only people who never mess up are the people who do nothing”. And damn, that hit me hard. We shouldn’t take life too seriously, and we should also stop believing that a ‘successful’ life means that mistakes don’t happen.
As children, we don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of failure because we’re too busy being excited about the thought of trying. Once we age, as soon as we fail at something or make a mistake, we feel our self-worth diminishing because our performance has been compromised. But please remember that your own growth does not have to meet the rest of the world’s benchmarks. Only when we search for passion rather than perfection will we begin to appreciate the beauty of life and of the world.
You don’t need to apologize for everything.
This is something that I struggle with all the time. There are certain things in life that you should apologize for once you recognize they’re wrong. For example, if you’ve hurt someone intentionally, have been dishonest, or have behaved rudely, you should apologize and try to make it right. But there are also certain things that you don’t need to apologize for, and it’s important to recognize them because, frankly, we don’t talk about these instances enough. Many of us are taught to people-please and over-apologize, but this can do more harm than good.
Things like being sensitive, your body, your trauma, your past, failure, saying ‘no’, asking for help (and more) are all things that should never be used in the same sentence as an apology. All of these things make you unique and add to the story of you. And although you may feel the need to apologize for them if they create conflict or make a conversation slightly uncomfortable, you shouldn’t. Be who you are, own what you are, and feel how you feel. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and you’re your own top priority.