Don’t Let The World Harden You

The world can be a hard place – it shows us constantly how we don’t measure up, how we’re not enough, what we’ve done wrong instead of what we’ve done right.

And it can harden us.  We get fed up, exhausted from being hurt so we put walls in place, walk away and disconnect and we let the world harden us.  I did.  A hurt 9 year old was still running my life.

Having been hurt, abused, an emotional punching bag, bullied by who I thought was my friends, I decided I didn’t need anyone.  I made that decision and I meant it.  I wouldn’t ever again let myself be naive or stupid.

And I didn’t.  I became someone else – someone I wasn’t really.  I became a version, a shell of me. I walked away from life and I stopped living. I didn’t see the beauty, the magic, the possibilities that life still offered.

All I saw was the filter that if I opened my heart I would be hurt – hurt by family, hurt by friends and eventually hurt by boys.  I went through the world expecting to be hurt and I was.  I was looking for proof all the time that people weren’t truth worthy, that they would hurt me and I was processing life through this constant filter of trying to protect myself from the hurt.

And while that was valid, understandable and even recommended by people who told me I was too soft, too naive, too gullible, it ultimately ruined my life.  In the beginning I might have needed those walls to protect me, to keep me safe, but in the end those walls kept me a prisoner of my own making.

Desperately lonely, unable to trust, unable to believe and unable to see the beauty that is in people. I was constantly scanning for their flaws and how they would hurt me, separating me from the world that I desperately wanted to experience.

But I was behind this wall, half living.  And when I eventually took the walls down, I took them down too far.  And I was over exposed to everyone.  And again, I was hurt.  Hurt by people who I thought had my back, hurt by people who I thought cared and loved me.

And I realized that we need some walls, some protection, some ability to not get sucked into other people’s stuff, drama and crap… so they’re bullshit can’t impact us when we can see it’s not about us at all, but about what they’re going through.

Walls to keep the wrong people out aren’t a bad thing.  The problem is we often get confused and keep even the right people out.  And we keep ourselves in.  And we end up in a hellish existence of our own making – scared to love, scared to live, and just getting through the days.

Frustration, annoyance, irritability become our greatest ally and they keep us separate from the world and love and truly living.  Blaming others and disconnecting, stuffing our feelings down, eating our emotions, and checking out of life – waiting to live – all rob us of life today.

I’ve learned that being hurt is a part of being fully alive and fully engaged in life. Hurt will come, we can’t protect ourselves from hurt if we want to live a fully engaged life.  The problem is we try to stop hurting all together.  We disconnect from life and so we aren’t hurt, we become unreachable and we don’t fully live.

For me, life has become about living.  I gave up so much of my life protecting myself, shutting down, disconnecting, and making sure no one could reach me that I didn’t realize while I was winning at not being impacted by anything I was losing at the game of life.

It took me taking down all of my walls and being hurt all over again and retreating again to see what I was doing – that I was letting other people impact me, determine the course of my life, determine what I believed about myself and what’s possible.

I let other people’s opinions become my reality.

And then I’d withdraw to protect myself and end up stuck, going nowhere fast, festering wounds, building a case against people, closing my heart and my life.

I let the world harden me, over and over again.  And sometimes I still do.  When I feel the hardening, the closing, I have to remind myself to not leave, not let the world harden my heart because someone was hurtful or I perceived something a certain way – through my filter of protecting myself.

Don’t let the world harden you.  Don’t let the world tell you that it will hurt more to love and be open and be hurt.  Because it won’t.  When you let yourself feel the hurt, you’ll move through it.  When you let yourself experience all the emotions that life has for you, it will be beautifully raw and sometimes painful but always alive.

I’ve never hurt more in this life than I wasn’t living, when I have been just merely existing, merely getting by.  Life isn’t about striving forward only, it’s an ebb and flow and god knows it took me a long time to realize and learn this.

I’ve learned it again and again.

And the more I’ve let life break me open, the less I’ve disconnected and the more I’ve stood powerfully in the moments of heartbreak, loneliness, shame, fear and hurt are the moments I’ve connected more with mine and others humanity at a greater level.

We’re all just people, figuring it out as we go.  Some of us have a lot of wounds and we push people away.  Some of us hurt others to deflect the hurt we feel.  Some of us are naive and bendable because we see the good in others and some of us have prided ourselves on being steel – letting nothing in.

But I promise you, when you let life break you open, when you heart stays open in a cruel world, only then are you truly living.  When you can see someone’s behaviour and realize it’s not about you and you don’t get triggered by it, only then can you help people. When you feel hurt and can still love, still be open, still be raw, still be powerful, still be connected, compassionate and loving – then you are truly living.

Stay Wild,

Tonya

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