I’ve spent much of my life in a black box. I seldom felt I was good enough for others, I didn’t have a sense of self. I didn’t know who I was. Those feelings continued until very recently.
Life in a Black Box wasn’t always dark, but the best I ever saw was a muted acceptance. There was a lot of blaming; happiness remained out of reach. I searched for happiness in a new home, friendship with a new person, a blog or a book, even in hobbies. Nothing I did really helped. I still felt alone and unworthy. Ryan and I fought all the time. Through all of my searching and blaming I placed the power of happiness and even anger, onto the shoulders of someone else.
Happiness could only be found from within. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true. When I was happy just being me, when I was grateful for the house I lived in, when I felt joy in a moment instead of looking to the horizon for a different moment to come to me, then I finally began to open the windows and doors of my own box.
One day I sat there, angry about a situation. Instead of letting that situation continue to bother me. I decided to become active in improving my relationship with myself. I decided to state my personal boundary to the person I was having difficulty with and clearly stated what I wanted to see happen to improve things in that relationship. I no longer left it up to another person to fully decide whether I was worthy of being their friend.
This was no longer about the other person, but about respecting myself enough to be willing to make the decision on my own as to whether to continue the friendship. I became an active decision maker in my own life. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I was willing to end a friendship that was hurting me. In the end this person listened, and we both actively worked at improving things. Now this person is one of my most valued friends.
Opening windows and doors in our lives really is as simple as becoming an active participant in our own lives. Instead of saying, “They’d better figure out why I’m upset quickly, or I’ll never talk to them again!” it’s approaching the person in private and saying. “I’m upset because…I’d like to resolve this. Will you talk with me?”
A person in a Black Box sees their friends’ successes and feels jealous, wonders why that person manages to get X, Y, or Z. And points out all the ‘luck’ that went into that person succeeding instead of you. To move out of the Black Box, a person can take control of their life and make their own luck.
Maybe you want a bigger house. Why? In our case, our house didn’t fill our needs. There was enough space, but it wasn’t functional for our family. We did try moving a couple years ago, but decided not to after having our home listed for a month with no acceptable offers. We could have waited and sold eventually. We could have done renos and then sold when our home was upgraded a bit. Instead we decided to do renos to change our home into one that would suit our family. When all around you people tell you a house should look a certain way, that renos should only be done to increase re-sale value, it’s difficult to make a decision to change your home into something so different from others. But once we made that decision, we suddenly found ourselves grateful for the home we lived in. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like a bigger home, but it does mean we are truly, deeply, happy being in the home we have.
Making a decision that resulted in gratitude for the home I live in opened a window in my Box. Suddenly life wasn’t happening to me, I was making my own life.
Living life intentionally made a huge difference in my life. Choosing to read books about budgeting because I wanted our money to work for us instead of us working for our money. Reading about positive thinking, and understanding the actions that go with it. Talking to others about the work involved in marriages. Being open with myself about my own feelings so I could make informed decisions. These are all things that are done with intention. They open windows and doors allowing us to connect with others.