In a conversation this morning with a friend who was explaining a struggle that she was having with a friend, I told her that she needed an "emotional bullet proof vest." She asked me more about it and as I described it, we agreed that it would be the next post of my blog. So here it is...
About ten years ago, I had one of those years where I seemed to be speaking a different language than those around me. I felt no one understood me and as things got worse, I began to lose myself by accommodating others' needs not just before mine, but instead of mine. It didn't work, I only felt worse. As I began to explore this internal chaos with my therapist, I heard the following statements, "You need to have boundaries," "You can't let people take advantage of you," or "People do and say things that may or may not have anything to do with you and it is your challenge to understand that their reactions and responses have nothing to do with you."
I couldn't just create an invisible boundary and by the time I figured out people were taking advantage of me, it was too late. I needed a strong visual that would help me feel protected. This is how I began to visualize an emotional bulletproof vest. What one does or says cannot hurt me and should simply bounce off as if I was wearing a bullet proof vest. It was one of those personal tools that transformed by thinking pretty quickly and radically. People's comments were like flying darts which I let bounce right off me.
My life began to change almost immediately. I became empowered with the ability to see others pain or discomfort and therefore, their misbehaving or acting out had nothing to do with me. I felt free to say, "No," more in that following year than I probably had ever in my life. And with saying, "No," I didn't worry anymore that one wouldn't like me anymore or they might be mad at me. I had no time to worry about that anymore.
The emotional bulletproof vest taught me to have a more authentic conversation with someone, have compassion for others and have a better understanding of the person sitting across from me. Since I began to behave less emotionally as well, my relationships that I held onto became more precious to me. While other relationships had to end, I was able to bring into my life those who also wanted a real and honest relationship.
I think everyone can create their own emotional bullet proof vest that can help them create those boundaries and allow them to understand that so much of the negative energy swirling around us, has nothing to do with us. This helped me make significant changes in my life at a time I really needed it.
The only person the emotional bullet proof vest doesn't protect me from is me, but that's a separate post. Stay tuned for how I learned to shut off or at least turn down the volume of my own inner negative voice.