Someone much wiser than I once said: "Maturity comes not with age but with responsibility", and it's true. Maturity is not measured by age, because it's an attitude built by experience, blended together with a grown up acceptance of personal responsibility. Can you think of a person who's getting on in years but refuses to accept personal responsibility, and cannot for the life of you be considered mature? I know I can.
So, when events conspire to annoy, thwart or challenge us in negative and unresourceful ways, it's easy to blow up, overreact and accept the invitation to an argument. Dammit, whilst you're venting your spleen about this, you may as well throw in the kitchen sink about an issue that annoyed you long ago, just so you can release it and let go. Sound familiar? Want to know how I know you do this? Because I did it too.
My teenage and younger years are an absolute fright to look back on now. I must have been semi-permanently puce with how quickly I fired up, overreacted and engaged in worthless battles, but then came maturity; and not a decade too soon! To be perfectly honest, motherhood was the biggest, loudest and most unrelenting siren of a wake up call I have ever experienced; where maturity matters are concerned. How could I be the best parent possible if I continued stropping around and accepting niggling little fights at every opportunity? How could I teach my children to be mature, rise above and turn the other cheek if I never did?
But it's about more than just rising above, it's about the responsibility you have to yourself. You have a duty to do the best for you, first. You can't help others be their best selves, until you are your best self, and to be your best self, you need to exercise self care and self love. How? By guarding and protecting your thoughts, attention, energy and physical body like you would gold. Stop giving it away like it's worthless - like you're worthless - because it and you are not.
And how do you do that? By - through the lens of your maturity - realising that not everything or everyone is worth you, your time, attention, energy or best endeavours. By being able to successfully filter out anything/anyone not belonging in your circle of care and concern. So when invited to an argument, that's really not worth having, you can automatically think #NotWorthMe and walk away. What a lesson in self-respect to teach our children: nonsense is not worth me.
Adopting the #NotWorthMe principle is a sacred self-promise to keep you away from anything that'll deplete and demoralise you, or make you smaller and less happy in life. How can you expect to be happy if you're continually choosing to swim in shit? If you want a pleasant and fragrant life you must choose to walk in the sunshine amongst the flowers. This means rejecting the septic tank swimming sessions, thanks very much - and our children will learn this from us and perpetuate the healthier lifestyle going forwards. But we must lead by example first.
The alternative is to pugnaciously fight your way through life, feeling stressed, dissatisfied, victimised and probably harming your health and mental well being in the process. Is this what you want your legacy to be? Who are you when you're not fired up and go get 'em? Do you know? Has overreacting simply become a negative habit, driven by your ego? Why do you succumb to the temptation to rise and fire so often, especially over the comparatively minor infractions? Why must you thrash? Why can't you float?
Everything in our life, and in our children's lives, is a gift: our minds, bodies, energy levels, thought processes and freedoms, so why give these gifts away like they're worthless? All you need to do instead is be mindful and resolute to be better now that you know better. For example:
> If someone cuts you up on the way to work (without harm/damage): #NotWorthMe
> If the receptionist/waiter is rude: #NotWorthMe
> If you're tempted into an argument by a "Jobs Worth": #NotWorthMe
Your mental, physical and energetic health and safety are your gifts to enjoy and safeguard, don't let them trickle through your fingers so you're left with less or nothing.
ASSERTIVE vs AGGRESSIVE
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not advocating you transform yourself into a doormat and let everyone get away with everything, oh no! This is where I must draw the distinction between assertive and aggressive.
Everyone knows what being aggressive means, and to be assertive simply means having or showing a confident and forceful personality. When you live and breathe the #NotWorthMe philosophy, politely e.g.: declining a party, which would otherwise make your toes curl is so much easier, because now you understand and accept you'd rather be someplace else, and why. Looking after you and your best interests is not wrong, it's essential for your mental health. You don't have to ride roughshod over everyone else's feelings (as that would be aggressive), but you do have to assertively (politely and confidently) get what you want - at least some of the time.
Yes, being in any kind of relationship with people we love requires us to be a little self-sacrificing at times, but when it's more often than not, your balance is thrown out of whack and resentment starts to fester in the corners. We can all guess what happens next; yep, there'll be a BOOM! of some kind. If something is being asked of you, which you just can't countenance, then you're going to have to empower yourself with #NotWorthMe, and respectfully decline or walk away. Life is too short to live a life of martyrdom or high anxiety. We are here to live as much life as possible and leave this place better than we found it. How can we do this if we're always in a place we don't even want to visit?
I honestly wish I'd thought of #NotWorthMe sooner than this, it would have spared me years of being with people in places that just didn't align with who I am. And for what? A quiet life, if you can believe that. Urgh, never again. I still do things which don't exactly set me aflame with passion and inspiration, because they're important to those I love, and they are most certainly worth me. But for the cretins who race me to get inside the petrol pay station and ahead in the queue (which actually happened yesterday), well they can have at it, because they're #NotWorthMe.
With maturity comes the realisation that we must sometimes decline the battle to win the war: it's all a question of mindful priorities.