When my Mom passed away suddenly, it changed my reality. It wasn’t just losing her so randomly that made me pause; it was also my reaction to her death that shook me up.
Having always been a Daddy’s girl with a really strong, independent, and happy personality, I was shaken up by how much I was impacted by my Mom’s absence.
Missing her was one thing; but this was different. I wasn’t depressed, but a part of me felt like it had died and I felt no peace within. Why was I so unhappy? I was unable to pinpoint the exact reason.
Maybe the universe decided to look out for me after my Mom’s three-month death anniversary. On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu holiday in August and that my Mother always celebrated, we talked about recognizing and removing obstacles in yoga class. Over the next few weeks, we were also taught about obstacles, known as kleshas in Sanskrit, and how it impacts our lives.
I spent time seeking answers, and one day, it came to me after meditation: I had become an obstacle in the way of my own happiness. From my realizations, I’ve come up with five ways that help you from hindering your own happiness.
1. Be true to yourself.
Obstacle is trying to be someone you are not. With Mom gone, I voluntarily took up her role overnight without thinking. I assumed that this was the “right thing” to do even though there was no real reason or need for me to do so.
While I do believe in maintaining relationships and being kind to all, I also believe that respect has to be earned, and that not everyone deserves our energy. My Mom, on the other hand, was okay with nurturing one-sided relationships.
When I tried to manage my personal life like my mother, I started to feel like an impostor. No wonder, in this newly acquired role, I had started to become mellow, which was not who I was at all. We are all different people and respecting your own individuality is as important as respecting others.
2. Be honest in your expectations.
Obstacle is expecting people to change. I had expectations from relationships I had put my heart and soul into, or even the ones my Mom had nurtured. While I expected nothing materialistic, I thought these people would show up emotionally, as we had been there for them. When they didn’t, it hurt.
Here is the thing: just because I’d suffered a life-altering loss, not everyone else’s life had changed. Only those who have experienced it themselves can truly empathize with the passing of a parent. It’s unfair to expect anyone to understand your journey if they haven’t traveled through your path.
3. Be responsible.
Obstacle is not realizing that life is like an airplane situation with low cabin pressure. When the oxygen level goes down, place the mask on yourself first before sharing it with others if necessary.
With my mother gone, I did the opposite. I paid no attention to my own needs and continued to live by the societal rulebook for “good and cultured women.” I was hurting, grieving, and ignoring myself, yet helping others and sorting out their lives.
By not making any room for myself, I had acted irresponsibly.
3. Be protective of your time.
Obstacle is not setting up boundaries, allowing all kinds of people into our lives, and later wasting time obsessing over unhealthy interactions. Yes, it’s good to listen to what others have to say and to help others as much as you can. There are only 24 hours in a day, however, so spend your time wisely.
If you aren’t watchful of your time or aren’t mindful of surrounding yourself with positive people, toxicity may find a place in your life.
4. Be grateful.
Obstacle is not practicing everyday gratitude. In my post-Mom world, even if unintentionally, by focusing on those who hurt me, I took for granted the positive people in my life—the ones who were always there and have helped me become the person I am meant to be.
Often too, the wrong people teach us great life lessons and remind us of all the good in our lives, so they deserve our gratitude too.
Looking inwards, introspecting, and critically analyzing one’s own behavior is never easy, but it helps in the end. Today I feel at peace. The old me is back with a new and better attitude. My life is fuller and happier.
It feels good to recognize my obstacles, learn, heal, and walk away from them. As the saying goes,
If you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it from you; you gave it away. ~John C. Maxwell
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