In December, my cousin and I went for a walk to celebrate the end of a shitty, shitty year, and celebrate the beginning of a shitty, shitty year. And while walking, we started talking about New Year’s resolutions (it was December).
I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I much prefer “themes”, which is a term I stole from my older sister. New Year’s resolutions are usually arbitrary, unrealistic, and lead to disappointment. You cannot predict what is going to happen in a year, which is why I’m sure many of you threw out your 2020 resolutions around March 2020. But themes provide more flexibility, there are no hard and fast rules you set, no deadlines or metrics. It’s just understanding what you want your year to feel like.
So, my cousin and I are walking, and I’m explaining that she should “theme” her year, because she too wasn’t keen on New Year’s resolutions. And almost immediately, she comes up with “setting the bar high”. And she says this:
“I set the bar really high for myself, but I always let people act shitty and get away with it. I would never treat someone like that, so why do I let other people do it to me?” (Or something like that, I don’t remember verbatim, it was December). However, “setting the bar high” is important, not simply as a yearly theme, but as a general framework for your life. You should set a high bar for the people in your life. Your friends, your family, your significant others. The relationships you have should not be one sided, and they should not be your sole responsibility to maintain.
Relationships (here comes the neuroscience) are transactional. And I will use my cousin as an example. My cousin provides me with humour, social support, a good drinking buddy and unconditional love. So, in return I provide her with humour, social support, a good drinking buddy and unconditional love. And these four things are not always equal in distribution, but what I give her and what she gives me, is equal. For example, if she stabs me with a pen and I continue to love her unconditionally, she can expect less social support, because my unconditional love has gone up. Does that make sense?
and receive in relationships is not always the same. For example, you provide your boss with a service and they ensure you get paid. There is still an exchange here. If you perform poorly, your boss will start reprimanding you and making your life more difficult. The “social etiquette” part of your relationship will decrease, because your quality of service (which is your primary value in the relationship) has decreased. Ta da. Neuroscience.
And some relationships will always be unbalanced and there is nothing you can do about it. Maybe your neighbour is an asshole and blasts Metallica at 3am. Maybe your co-worker is a really close talker during a pandemic and you have to keep yelling, “Back up Janet!”. Maybe your friend’s boyfriend smells like bologna. In that case, I suggest drinking wine straight out of the bottle whenever you get the chance. However, for the relationships you have control over in your life, make sure you’re not letting people walk all over you.
You’re an icon. You’re a damn treat. Don’t let anyone act like you’re a mouldy zucchini when you’re actually a fresh baked cookie. You treat others with kindness and respect and that is the bar you should be expecting that from other people. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself, just to check in.
Just some things to think about.
You’re a fan-fucking-tastic person. You should know that. Make sure the other people in your life know that too. Set the bar high.
From me, with love, to you,
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