Mar 29

It Starts with Us

How do you define loyalty?  Where is that fine line between the honorable hanging in and being loyal?

For decades I have progressed toward recognizing situations that are unhealthy for me and leaving sooner than in the past, or perhaps not engaging at all.  More and more often, I find myself distinguishing the difference between the controlling desires of others and what I feel are my own best interests.  Gradually I am taking care of myself first.

The progression has looked like this: some days, I tune out of a conversation that is not interesting and relax or enjoy my own thoughts.  Before I would have been looking for a way to connect with or help the other person, even if it were draining for me or not really expected by the other.  Another day I may actually walk away from a situation that’s uncomfortable.  Even if my leaving is only 5 minutes sooner than it would have occurred in the past, this measured succession of small changes and victories helps me honor myself.

Then a few weeks ago I took a class in self-defense and leapt forward. I am tallish and fairly strong for a woman and have traveled the world in safety.  In spite of my capabilities, I realize I am still weaker than most men.  I have long wanted to feel more physical control in uncertain situations.  I went to the class looking for a few techniques; I came away with so much more.

Right after the class I really felt different knowing just a few techniques to protect myself.  But that was not all.  Over time I realized that it’s not about protecting myself in a jam; it’s about not getting into one in the first place!  Why I needed an instructor to tell me it’s ok to say “Back Away!” I may never know.  But it worked.

I don’t think I will be rude or physical with someone trying to invade my space unless I am in danger, but I will be graciously saying “no thank you” more often. I will be asking for what I want, without guilt.  It was so interesting to see how my new physical technique affected my psyche as well.

What class should I take next?

The moral of this story is that being Open Hearted does not mean being nice to everyone.  It means being gracious, helping or participating when you can, but only when doing so would honor you as well as the others involved.  Honestly, how can others be honored by our presence or actions if we are not honoring ourselves?

Have you, or do you want to, make progress in honoring yourself? Please share your techniques and interesting classes.

About the author

Lisa Hamaker

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