This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.
Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Joset Rosado: a licensed therapist and a fellow explorer on this journey of self-awareness and growth. So whether you’re a first time listener or a loyal companion, know that this space is sacred. A cocoon of thoughts, questions, and revelations. If you’ve tuned in before, then you’re aware that we often swim deep into the waters. We’re all about understanding our quirks, our demons, our blessings, and our choices.
Now, let’s move past the niceties, and get to the heart of our topic for today. It’s a simple phrase with complicated implications, and it’s this: people who are not treating you well are not going to treat you better if you work harder. This statement is a double edged sword, cutting both ways. Accepting it frees you, but it also holds up a mirror to some really hard truths. I want you to sit down with this for a moment. Let it seep into the deepest crevices of your soul, because grasping the full weight of this statement can, and I believe will, change the trajectory of your relationships, whether they be personal or professional.
Picture this, we are all in the theater of life. Sometimes we are actors, sometimes we are in the audience. You, my friend, can not control other peoples’ roles in your life. You can’t script their lines or actions. Some will applaud you, others might boo you from the shadows. You can’t change them by working harder on your performance. The belief that if you read your lines better or make your steps more perfect, others will treat you better is bullshit. You don’t control their actions, only your own reactions. Well, I was the clearest example of a lost wanderer, and what made it worse? I held onto a compass, one I thought pointed to mutual respect and love, but that compass was defective. I was interpreting the information based on what I wanted to believe, not reality. Sometimes we cling to that broken compass because the idea of having some direction, even if it’s faulty, feels better than having none.
But false hope can be even worse than a clear understanding of the situation. You throw down your bucket deeper and deeper into a shadowy well, believing that surely this time you’ll bring up water. You invest your emotions, your time, your energy, and all you get back is an empty bucket, again and again. You see, the effort to draw water from a dry well is not only fruitless but also exhausting. You come to believe that your worth is equivalent to how much water you can draw, but the game was rigged from the start. All the while, resources that could be used meaningfully in your life are being squandered.
Have you ever felt like a chameleon, changing your colors to match your surroundings? It may seem to be a helpful strategy at first, but those around you are blind to your true essence. Your vibrant hues go unnoticed, maybe even purposefully ignored. That’s why people-pleasing is futile. It’s worthless. It’s armor that you can’t wear forever. At some point, you have to embrace vulnerability, let down your guard, and reveal your true colors. Your peace should never be the price you pay for someone else’s satisfaction.
We often think of boundaries as rigid, exclusionary borders. Something no one can get through, but that’s far from the truth. Imagine them as the walls of a castle where your true self resides. These walls are neither cold nor isolating, but are covered with beautiful art and lovely tapestries. They are protective, they shelter your garden, your sanctum where your innermost thoughts and feelings can take root and blossom. This fortress is not just a reactionary defense mechanism. It’s a declaration. It states without a doubt, “This is my space and I am the guardian.” It also has gates that open wide to let in what builds you up and close tight to keep out what diminishes you. I can’t stress enough how crucial self-respect is in this grand narrative. Respect is as essential as the air we breathe. And if you wouldn't settle for polluted air, why would you settle for tainted respect? No external validation should ever outweigh your self-respect.
Listen, I’ve been there, thinking that if I just bend a little more, I can be the missing piece in someone else’s puzzle. But you know what? I don’t belong there! I am my own intricate, magnificent puzzle. So, here we are, standing at a fork in the road. One path holds the temptation of external validation. The other has the sometimes thorny, but always rewarding, path of self-love and respect. It’s never too late to switch your path. My advice to you, born from my own trials and tribulations, is to choose the path that leads you to your best version of yourself, even if you must walk it alone for a while. Before we wrap this up, if you find yourself nodding in agreement, or wrapped up in introspection, share this post with a friend. Let’s create a ripple effect of self-awareness and dignity. Life is too short to live in a labyrinth of someone else's design. I am sending you positive vibes and hoping you are able to walk your own path with your head held high, your boundaries built strong, and your self-respect non-negotiable.