The Rules for Being Human

The Rules of Being Human

We’re all in this together, trying to flourish, get through, dodge the cave-ins and use the bumps in the road as a ramp to lift off. Wherever we’re at and whoever we’re with, there are some rules that are an unavoidable part of being human. They unite us, connect us and when we embrace them, are a way to feel less like we have to do any of this crazy, messy, beautiful, human thing on our own. 

  1. Relationship is everything.

    People are meant to be with people. We’re meant to love them, like them, miss them, trust them, open up to them, learn from them, walk towards, walk away and sometimes, the hardest by far, get over them. Growth happens in the space between ourselves and another. It’s where we learn to love, trust, risk, find our limits and push against them. Don’t be scared to open up to it. It’s where the wild, beautiful things are.

    [bctt tweet=”Growth happens in the space between ourselves and another. It’s where the wild, beautiful things are.”]

  2. We all have our armour. (Other people too.)

    Things won’t always work out the way we want them to but when they do, the risk will always be worth it. A lot of life is missed from the sidelines, waiting for the right time, the right opportunity, the right moment, the right person. Be daring and be brave. We all have our armour and it will always be there if you need it – just be careful not to grab it too soon – or leave it on for too long.

    Sometimes the people we meet will have theirs on so tight to their skin, it will take a lot of commitment, tenderness and patience to see what lies beneath it. Sometimes it will take too much. Too much armour will make the wearer worn down, untrusting and brittle. Being on the receiving end of this will feel like it’s personal. It’s not. It’s the result of one too many heartaches.

    If you’re the one wearing your armour too tight, make sure the reasons you’re wearing it are still valid, and not left over from sadder, lonelier, more painful times. People can’t love you if you don’t let them in. And that’s a hefty price to pay for the protection of old wounds.

  3. We all have a body. Best learn to love it. 

    There is only one body like yours on the entire planet – and you own it – so that makes it a pretty precious commodity. Look after it and get to know it well. Above all else, love it. You can’t take care of something you don’t like. Either we can treat it well or we can treat it with delicious bad carbs and luscious lazy days on the couch. I’m all for a bit of both. But note to the universe, when it comes to taking care of this body of mine, if exercise had the side of effect of, you know, making me love exercise or something, things would be a whole lot easier, so you might want to work on that.

  4. We’ll all get our hearts broken.

    There are lessons we need to learn. Oh I know – some days that makes me want to throw up too but it’s true. A broken heart means this one wasn’t good enough, so learn what you need to learn so you can be ready for the one that is. Be grateful that he moved out of the way so you can see the one you deserve when he comes towards you.

    Give yourself time to heal and to learn about what brings out the best of you in a relationship. Look at what it is that drew you to that person, what changed – about you, him or her – what felt bad, what felt good, what you want more of, less of, none of. If you learn nothing, the risk is that you’ll be drawn to the same people, with the same baggage (yours and theirs), live out the same type of relationship and go through the same type of ending. And really, that’s such a waste of you.

  5. We’re all on a (big breath) journey, but sometimes things are just freaking unfair.

    Confession. I actually hate that word – ‘journey’ – when it’s used like that. I hate it more than alarm clocks. ‘Journey’ is too much of a ‘holiday’ word and holiday words tend to suggest that you can opt out of the ‘carry your own stuff’ option but life isn’t like that. We all have to carry our stuff. What’s important is not carrying too much of anyone else’s.

    We’re all here to grow and to learn lessons and generally, lessons don’t come wrapped in something sweet with a ‘Here’s a little reminder for when you’re ready, Gorgeous,’  card on the top. They come with a smash and a bang, or whatever it takes to get our attention. Nearly always (maybe always) they come to us by way of relationship. Beauty will always emerge from chaos, eventually.

  6. Everything we need is in us. (But sometimes it’s cake. Ourselves and cake.)

    Everything we need to survive life and flourish is in us. Sometimes it’s layered under the losers we’ve loved, the lessons we’ve taken on but shouldn’t have, or the rules we no longer need but still live by.

    If the things you’ve always done, or the rules you’ve always abided by are causing you trouble, it might be time to let them go. Maybe. Too many times we let things sit there and claim a space in us, even though they offer us nothing at all. Take a fresh look at things. If something isn’t working for you anymore, get rid of it. The things that will work  will be quick to take it’s place. This might feel awkward for a while and that’s okay. Like new shoes, new ways of being in the world need to be worn in. Don’t hang on to the ones that are blistering your soul when there is something there that will nurture it beautifully if you let it.

  7. There’ll be bumps in the road. 

    There’ll be bumps in the road. Wish there wasn’t, but there will be. You’ll have two options – over or through. Actually, there is a third option – to stand still, but that will only diminish you, never the bump. When there’s something in your way, chances are that you won’t feel okay okay until you’re safe and sound on the other side. Bumps aren’t called bumps because they feel good. They’re called bumps because they’re jarring and sometimes they hurt. Like any bump in any road though, sometimes the only way through is through. But however big that bump might be, there is always smooth ground on the other side.

  8. You’ll feel alone at times.

    At times you’ll wonder why everyone else’s path looks as though it’s not only bump free, but lined with happy selfies and ‘Loving Life!!!’ Facebook status updates. This can make the pain of troubled times feel worse. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because other people’s bumps don’t line up at the same point in the path as yours that they don’t exist. They do. They do for everyone. It’s what makes us human. Every person on the planet has had to go through something. Maybe not at the same time as you, and maybe not in the same way as you, but everyone has loved, lost, been hurt, scared or heartbroken. We all come of out it with bruises and scars. Claim them as proof that you survived and will continue to thrive. 

  9. Some days, the best you’ll be able to do is breathe. And that’s okay.

    Who hasn’t had one of these days. Maybe more than one. And maybe for longer than a day. Know that it’s okay to fall down, fall apart and feel like you can’t get up. Stay there for a little while – it’s healing and important. Just don’t decide to live there. 

  10. That thing you can’t stop thinking about.  Do that.

    If you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s worth trying. So just start. Stop thinking about what there is to lose (there’ll probably be plenty), and start thinking about what there is to gain (there’ll always be more). And don’t try to predict your path. When you’re doing the right thing, you’ll have passion, energy, creativity and resources that you never imagined. But they can’t show up for you until you do.

  11. You won’t like everyone and not everyone will like you. So save your time and energy for the ones that do.

    There’ll be some people you like. And there’ll be some you can’t stand. Some of them will be ‘can’t stand’ times, like, infinity. Too many times we spend time with people we don’t like out of obligation. There are only two of these situations I can think of that are worth even entertaining, and even then they both have their limits. The first is that they help to ensure your day to day survival – as in you work for them. But put a limit on this. You might not be able to walk out of a job you hate straight away, but don’t stay because you think you won’t find better. You will. It probably won’t come to you though, so you might have to hunt it down. The only other reason you’d put up with anyone difficult is for love – as in in-laws or step-someones (because you love the one they’re related to). You can do this from a position of power though, by being clear in your own head that you’re making the decision for your own reasons and not because they have some sort of power over you.

    Save your time and energy for the people you care about and who care about you back. The others will surely get over your indifference and lack of attention. Otherwise you’ll get over them not getting over it.

  12. You’re going to stuff things up sometimes. Sometimes it will be monumental. 

    Part of being human is our right to get it wrong sometimes. It’s normal, it’s important and it’s part of growing and becoming a better version of ourselves. Own your mistakes and honour the lessons. It the only way to make sure the same thing doesn’t keep tripping you up or holding you back in the same way.  Whatever you do, don’t spend too much time (or any time) regretting anything. Haul yourself up, dust yourself off and move on, all the more wiser for what you’ve learned and all the more prouder for moving forward.

  13. Love hard. It’s a superpower.

    There are so many reasons not to love. The biggest is that it might not be returned. One thing is for certain though, if you don’t give it out it can’t come back to you. If you’ve been hurt before, you might be reluctant to put yourself at risk again, but what you need to remember is that broken hearts heal. It doesn’t feel like that when the edges are still raw from the break, but you have to know that it’s true. What holds people back from full living, even more than heartbreak, is the loneliness that comes from never allowing yourself to be vulnerable – the loneliness that comes from never taking the risk to connect.

    Humans thrive in relationships. Be open to people, relationships, connections and the sheer joy and happiness that comes from that. People will always be drawn to an open heart. That doesn’t mean you have to feel the love for every human that comes your way. You’re going to come across jackasses – particularly if you have an open heart. Know when to steer clear, or let go, but be daring, curious and willing to be vulnerable. Love will always come back to you in some way. If it doesn’t come back from the same person you give it to, be patient and open, because it’s coming from someone better. 

We’re all human. We all have something to offer and something to lose. We all have vulnerabilities, potential and an extraordinary capacity to grow and be something remarkable – to ourselves and to others. The more we own every one of the beautiful, messy, confusing, rich, unlikeable, warm and wonderful parts that go into making us the people we are, the more able we will be to connect, grow, love, be loved, take chances, take a stand, and fully live this life of ours. 

9 Comments

Cris

Funny, I found your wonderful article here by typing “Sometimes, being human ISN’T marketable.” into Google. I was looking for something besides advertising and boy, did I find it! Thank you so much for your inspiring words. I’ve already shared them with my loved ones. They make me feel not so ashamed to be human.

Reply
Daniel

Dearest Linda,

I have been spreading your Beauty! Testing, researching and most of all, LEARNING! Using the sheer wonderous feedbacks, hundres of them, made the greatest part of me whole again. What an unbelievable piece of work! Can’t wait for the future!

Thank you so much for this!

Reply
Andy

Good list. No 1 struck a chord, I’ve been an island keeping people at arms length from a basic emotional needs unfullfilled/self preservation/perceived threat perspective since consciousness became memorable!

I’m seeing this trauma, unresolved conflict, distrust/disconnection/isolation/fractured/broken relationships = lonely 🙁 less productive member of society a common thread.

Proverbial’s repeatedly hit the fan, in various forms and intensity. p;ssed I got into such a mess, kinda thinking a heads up on common life traps might help prevent/prepare me somehow. I can see one for kids developmental stages and this helpful page but is there a comprehensive compendium out there?

Reply
Zinia Roshan

This is beautiful and written in the way that feels like someone is talking to me. I’m the kind of person who always gives, will offer this sort of advice but hardly receive it in return. I also love how I know most of this advice but it only in snippets and reading it all in one wholesome chunk like is like nourishing food. My motto this year is “input/output”, i.e. moderation and balance. This is definitely input!! I feel balanced!

Reply
linda jenkins

Im a new widow, and a friend posted this. It was healing and helpful to me today. Grief is like the boggyman in the closet, and today he has been out in full force. I look forward to maybe finding some “sense” in my life, or maybe I should say making sense, out of what life I have been left with, through your articles.

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Hi Linda, I’m so pleased this article found its way to you. I’m sorry you are going through a painful time. I know that when you lose someone you love, for a while there’s nothing that can make things right – just time and having people you care about close to you. I hope you are able to find some comfort here as you move forward. Much love and strength to you.

Reply
Barbara Isenberg

Dear Linda,
I’m a new widow too. Episodes of grief, loneliness, heartache and fear, seem to wait just around the corner for me (just like your boogyman). Today, this piece “ambushed” me instead. Hope is a wonderful thing…..

Reply

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Faces so often say so more than our words ever could. Even more than words and behaviour, faces tell the story of where we (and our nervous systems) are right now. Receive their joyful faces and their brave faces. Their scared faces and their sad faces. When their words are spicy and big their behaviour is bigger, receive their faces. Their faces won’t lie. And neither do ours. By receiving their faces it will open the way to show them, ‘I see you. I feel you. I’m with you.’♥️
Parenting was never meant to be about perfection. Neither was growing up. The messy times are so often where the growth happens - theirs and ours - but this can only happen if we can be with ourselves through the mess, with an open heart and an open mind. But this can be so hard some days! 

Let’s start by shoving the idea of perfect parenting out the door and let’s do that with full force. Perfection. Ugh. Let’s not do that to ourselves and let’s not do that to our young loves. It’s okay for them to see our imperfections, and it’s okay for them to lay theirs bare in front of us. We won’t break them if we yell sometimes. They will learn from our mistakes, and we will learn from theirs.♥️
If the feelings that send them ‘small’ don’t feel safe or supported, the ‘big’ of anger will step in. This doesn’t mean they aren’t actually safe or supported - it’s about what the brain perceives. 

Let them see that you can handle them in all their feelings. Breathe and be with - through their tears, or confusion, or lostness. Just let their feelings come, and let them be. Feelings heal when they’re felt. Big feelings don’t hurt children. What hurts is being alone in the feelings. Your strong, loving presence, your willingness to be with without needing them to be different, and certainty that they’ll get through this will hold them steady through the storm. If they don’t want you near them, that’s okay too. Let them know you’re they’re if they need.♥️
Brains love keeping us alive. They adore it actually. Their most important job is to keep us safe. This is above behaviour, relationships, and learning - except as these relate to safety. 

Safety isn’t about what is actually safe, but about what the brain perceives. Unless a brain feels safe, it won’t be as able to learn, connect, regulate, make good decisions, think through consequences. 

Young brains (all brains actually) feel safest when they feel connected to, and cared about by, their important adults.  This means that for us to have any influence on our kids and teens, we first need to make sure they feel safe and connected to us. 

This goes for any adult who wants to lead, guide or teach a young person - parents, teachers, grandparents, coaches. Children or teens can only learn from us if they feel connected to us. They’re no different to us. If we feel as though someone is angry or indifferent with us we’re more focused on that, and what needs to happen to avoid humiliation or judgement, or how to feel loved and connected again, than anything else. 

We won’t have influence if we don’t have connection. Connection let’s us do our job - whether that’s the job of parenting, teaching - anything. It helps the brain feel safe, so it will then be free to learn.♥️
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#parenting #parentingforward #parentingtips #mindfulparenting
The stories we tell ourselves influence how we feel and what we do. This happens to all of us. These stories can be influenced by our mood, history, stress - so many things that are outside of what’s actually happening. 

When our children are in distress, this will start to create distress in us. The idea of this is to mobilise us to protect, but when that distress happens in the absence of a ‘real’ threat, it can throw us into fight or flight. This can influence the story we tell ourselves. This is really normal.

Whenever you can, pause, and be open to a different story. It won’t necessarily make the behaviour okay, but it will make it easier to give your child or teen what they need in that moment - an anchor - a strong, steady, loving presence to guide them back to calm. 

When their brains and bodies are back to calm, then you can have the conversations that will grow them: what happened, what can you do differently, what can I do differently that would help?

The truth is that they are no different to us. In that moment they don’t want to be fixed. They want to feel seen, safe, and heard.♥️
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#parenting #parenthood #mindfulparenting

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