The Unmarked Road

Life On The Other Side Of Mental Illness

Category: Articles (page 2 of 2)

Do You Discard Your Own Needs In Order To Please Others?

I’m an enormous people pleaser. And yet I didn’t realise until last week, that I am planning my entire wedding around what will satisfy the tastes of every one of my different guests. As last weeks’ events came to a head, I had to force myself to stop and think, “Is this actually what I want or am I just doing what will make everyone else happy? Do I recognise the difference?” Making people happy makes me happy, so how can I break this pattern and truly know what would satisfy me, away from others’ judgments?

I really dislike that I have this need to appeal to everyone’s expectations of me. It feeds my anxiety like miracle grow to a weed. Usually this habit is self-contained purely due to the small number of people coming together at one time. Keeping just one or two people happy is easy.

But Plan a wedding and you either have to learn that there is no way of organising something that appeals to everyone’s tastes; that inevitably there’ll be disappointments, raised eyebrows and the ‘well I wouldn’t have done it that way’ comments, or you will make yourself ill in trying to achieve the impossible ‘perfect’ wedding.

Like with all my emotions, I wanted to try to understand why I feel or behave in this way.

I have spoken before about my constant need for perfection in order to feel successful, and I think this links up in big way to my people pleasing nature. People’s reactions to me reflect the success or failure of whatever it is I have presented. It is feedback, and I use it as a barometer to how I am doing. If my wedding is perfect, if I am perfect, then that means there can be nothing to criticise. And surely it then follows that I have achieved perfection i.e. success.

If I am completely honest with myself, the thought of people being dissatisfied, or that I will be thought of in a negative way, heightens my anxiety. It is the worst thing about myself because my rational brain knows, that those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter. 

But I don’t think it is as simple as that.

It seems that I strongly identify with how I make others feel, not with how they make me feel. When I make the people around me happy, I give myself permission to be happy also – I have succeeded. If they are disappointed, then I see that as failure and a need to try harder. But is there more to this than first thought?

From the day we are born, we are told by our parents that our successes, be it walking, talking or using the potty for the first time, ‘makes them feel happy’. We learn very early on that making our parents and others happy is what we should strive for.

I wonder; is there room in our society for imperfection and for that to be good enough so long as we’re happy? Do our parents, our teachers and our peers, somehow put pressure on us to satisfy their expectations of us, instead of looking at just achieving the goals we have set for ourselves?

How can we stop a lifetime of conditioning?

Do You Know What Will Make You Happy?

We all have out own personal goals, things we would like to achieve by a certain point in our lives. Inevitably there’s a huge sense of failure when we don’t get to where we believe we would have, at the ‘right’ age or time we should have.

Ask anyone around you, and the life objectives are almost all identical. Marriage, career and children. We usually want all these things before we even know ourselves sufficiently enough to think about whether this is our own dream, or that of our parents, our friends, or even that of society. We don’t even understand what these things really mean to us, only that we somehow know this will make us happy.

In the midst of our continuous and desperate efforts to become a well-oiled cog in our culture’s machine, we rarely stop to think if we even want to be part of it in the first place.

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Do Women Have To Work Harder Than Men?

Barely a week goes by without a bit of drama in my life. Whether it’s directly affecting me or my friends, it seems someone is always dissatisfied with one aspect of their life. And nearly everyone I know has an unspoken and unknown depression from time to time, without really knowing why and where the feeling has come from. Most, but not all, are women. But is that really surprising?

The pressure put on us as women, by ourselves and our society to ‘have it all,’ is monumental and actually incredibly unrealistic!

In the 60s and 70s, women fought diligently for our equal rights. The right to be treated the same as a man. But haven’t we forgotten one crucial factor? That we are not like men? We are more emotional, sensitive and generally a more peaceful gender. I am in no way belittling the feat of what those women achieved for us, but I don’t want to be treated like a man, I don’t want to be less emotional or sensitive and I certainly don’t want to feel less of a person for not being like one.

Surely equal rights should mean having the freedom to be who you want, and not to try to fit into some man-shaped mould?

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Golden Cages – The Post That Started It All

In 2012 I went travelling on my own for 3 months in south-east Asia. Writing about my adventures is what started this journey into self-discovery, in particular this post. Enjoy 🙂

Some of you will remember a post I wrote near the beginning of my trip about my desire to settle down. This is still something I want and can’t imagine not doing but I can’t pretend that since this experience, that my idea of how I would like to settle down hasn’t changed somewhat.

Travelling what is a very very small part of the World has really opened my eyes. Not just to the sheer scale and size of it, but to myself. I have been travelling for two months now and I can’t believe I thought I was going to see so much! I’ve barely touched on what there is out there, and now that I have had a taste for it, I want more! I feel incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity because for the first time in a long time, life excites me, and not for what personal life goal posts I can achieve, but for the possibilities of what there is to experience and discover. There is so so much more than I could have imagined, and not just geographically.

I feel like I have been living with my eyes closed shut, but with so much still to see, I feel they have been barely opened. Like a newborn baby, I have just caught my very first glimpse of the World and now I want to see everything there is!

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