I’ve been thinking about expiration dates. I fear I have ignored too many in my life.
I’m not talking about a can of biscuits, but rather relationships, jobs, situations, etc. Things that more than outlived their freshness and yet I stayed on…out of fear, laziness, or just inertia.
Funny thing is, looking back, once I cut myself free from whatever it is that long had stopped being a healthy choice, my life got so much better. Whoda thunk?
What I’m hoping is this: now that I’m wiser (!) and older, perhaps I’ll spot much earlier when it’s time to let go of something toxic. Move on. Stop the madness. Resist.
Because there’s just not enough time to waste on things that are harmful to us.
Problem is, often the harm is sneaky and slow, and we don’t see what it’s doing to our spirit. Nibbling away at us quietly like mice in the night. I don’t know about you, but I’ve set out traps and called in exterminators and plugged holes and watched Mickey and Minnie enough times to know if you don’t completely get rid of the problem, it’s coming back…and with friends.
So I’m hoping this time around, in my older years, I’m taking action quicker.
For example, the work situation that asks too much and returns too little. The “friendship” that really isn’t. The romance that tears down, instead of building up. The incessant user of our energy…whatever or whoever it is…that is not enriching our soul, but eroding it.
Meditation is one strategy. When the urge to give in to the bad energy comes over us, we can sit still, find our breathing and try to let the feeling pass. Sometimes it works, sometimes we just want to scream or throw a rock. (I think that’s okay, as long as it’s done safely.)
Helping others is a good idea. Get out of myself and get into helping another person…whether it’s a phone call to someone struggling with something, or inviting someone to lunch who never gets out. Volunteer at a local shelter. See just how powerful my “good” energy can be when directed in the right direction.
Make a list. I’ve always said being a tad neurotic can come in handy. I like to write down the pros and cons of what I can’t seem to give up. Chances are the “bad” side of my list is much longer than the good. So why waste any more energy there?
Of course many situations are much more difficult to change. A painful romance or abusive marriage. A job that pays the bills but steals your soul. It’s up to each person to decide when enough is enough, and how to safely and positively walk away.
Just as M. Scott Peck says in the first line of The Road Less Traveled, “life is difficult”. So I know we have to expect some trial and strain in even the best situations and relationships. But I also know that for me, looking back, I often stayed in the rowboat much too long…after all the food and water was gone and the sharks were gnawing on the side…and now wonder why I didn’t just take my chances in the water.
Because I do know how to swim.
Or at least dog-paddle.
I’ve got the wrinkles to keep me afloat.
“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”