Learning to Love Barometers

25 Jan

I wonder if other people have barometers in their lives. I’m talking about those people who, with just one comment, can make you question your actions, your motives and sometimes your very existence. For many, I would guess it’s a parent. For some it might be in-laws and for others, it could be a friend or frienemy, to use a current reality show term. I’ve had all kinds of those people in my life at some point, people who seem to just needle you constantly and for some reason, you always take the bait. I call them barometers because they help me measure how I’m responding to the pressure in my life. They used to determine every move I made and question most of them.
Then I turned 40 and something magical began to happen. I began to realize that my opinion of me mattered more than other people’s opinion of me. It wasn’t like the younger, defiant version of me that said, “I don’t care what you think. I’ll do what I want and deal with the consequences later.” It was a knowing that my opinion of myself is connected to how I treat myself and that is more important than anything anyone else thinks about me. It also came with learning the amazing truth that most of the negative people in my life were critical of others to keep the critical eye off of them. It changed the way I look at everything.
First, it made me realize that I didn’t want to be negative anymore so I made a decision. I was going to go 30 days without complaining. I let my family rat me out every time I complained and it was an eye opener. Your kids will truly enjoy this exercise, trust me. Years later, I’m still working on it, but the complaints are fewer and further between, and it’s taught me to live very differently.
Second, I’ve learned to be grateful for the barometers in my life. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve learned to look at the barometers as a tool. If they can get a rise out of me, I know I still have some growing to do. The thing is, when you know you are living your life exactly as you should, you live in such a place of power and love that no one can take your strength and serenity away for more than a moment. Life seems to flow so effortlessly and you are the recipient of small miracles every day, if you choose to see them. If a barometer comes into your life at that moment, they may send a ripple through your pond, but it will smooth out quickly. If, however, you are not in your best place, that ripple becomes a wave and, if you’re really feeling bad about your life, it can get tsunami size and make you question everything. The key is to focus so much on living your life the best way you can that those tsunamis never come.
Last, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be anyone else’s barometer. This week I’ve had the privilege of spending time with some of my nieces and their babies. It’s reminded me of how far I’ve come as a mom and a person, because it’s reminded me of how much stress those early years of motherhood entail. It’s also inspired me to be more supportive of those struggling new moms because, in the end, we’re all in this together, and it serves humanity so much better when we lift each other up instead of tear each other down. So, lift someone up today. Lighten their burden and make your corner of the world a better place, and if you happen to see one of your barometers, smile and know you don’t have to return the favor. Have a great day!

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