We all have predispositions when it comes to interaction with people. There are those who prefer association with others, those who prefer evaluation of others, those who prefer manipulation of others, and those who prefer connection with others, just to name a few.
Being an artist, I am, by nature, a connector. I have an innate desire to communicate--to understand and be understood.
Unfortunately, I am also an introvert. This presents an extra unique challenge when I factor in the "crazy". In order to fulfill the desire for connection, I have to encounter people; and people wear me out faster than anything.
Admittedly, the meds have helped. I have also made strides using visualization and breathing techniques. However, the biggest change has been the way I see myself.
I used to think I was cancerous to relationships and toxic to those around me. I lived for years regretting the way I handled things in my past. Because of the chaos in my head, I assumed that, since I couldn't make sense of myself, no one else could either.
The major flaw in my logic was that this approach left me wholly responsible for every bump in the road. The truth is that no one is ever entirely responsible for every issue. Believing this way also fed and fueled the negative self-image I had developed.
I needed to see my life as worthwhile, even beneficial to others. I had to extend grace to the one person in my life who, for 36 years, had been utterly unlovable-- me.
Audibly congratulating myself for doing things well and celebrating every interpersonal victory, regardless of how seemingly insignificant was a huge shift. I must admit that there have been times when I have felt a bit like Stuart Smalley, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
So, I'll let you know that reprogramming your self-image is going to feel a little strange. But, occasionally becoming a caricature of me has taught me not to take myself or others too seriously. This has been one of the most liberating things I've tried. As a result, I have grown in my ability to handle, and even connect with, people.
I won't be winning any humanitarian awards any time soon, but I do think I'm a little easier to be around these days.
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