A colleague sent my team this article today entitled, “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid.” It’s a list compiled by a psychotherapist who thought that instead of just focusing on what mentally strong people do, it would also be important to look at what they do not do.
The article gives a lot of very good examples, such as wasting time feeling sorry for oneself, dwelling on the past, obsessing over pleasing others, fearing calculated risks, shying away from change, resenting other people’s success, and expecting immediate results. It was depressing to read the article and then realize that I can identify many people in my life who fit many of these descriptions and basically define it, particularly in my family (hello, cousins).
The part that resonated with me the most from my own perspective was worrying about pleasing others. I’ve probably been obsessing over that since I was a teenager. As I have gotten older, it’s been harder and harder to please myself, those around me, plus my parents (who are obviously the hardest). Sometimes, it seems that no matter what I do, nothing will make them happy. It’s probably a sentiment that a lot of kids have about their parents, but my mother never seems to be happy about anything. Even on the day I graduated from college, she had this worried look on her face all day and even told my former boyfriend she felt worried. When I got this new job, instead of being happy that it was a higher salary and a better environment, she instead worried that I had to build myself from ground up again and would get fired. The older I get, the more annoyed she seems to get at me when it comes to my life choices because apparently none of them have been right to her.
My mother basically wants me to have the life that she has – work, raising children, stuck in the same city forever. I don’t want that. I want to travel the world and see and learn different things. I want that for my future children, too. Travel isn’t just about indulging – it’s about understanding the world from a different viewpoint and seeing what people different from you do and have to offer. That’s a hard thing to describe to someone who merely sees travel as “what rich people do.”
Ed never really cared about pleasing my parents as far as I can remember. Sadly, I think he gave up on it at some point when he was a teenager and just stopped caring. He apparently knew better than I did.