Last year when I wrote my first eBook, I wrote about why it's not only OKAY to say "No" to unnecessary crazy, and it's a pretty damn important step towards setting effective boundaries. It became a really popular tip, and ended up getting printed up on the back of some of my Inspiration Cards (which were my way cooler version of business cards).
So what do I mean when I say "Unnecessary Crazy" - especially when we bear in mind that I often identify with the word "Crazy"?
Well, this is actually a boundary I set for myself about 3 years ago, so I'd like to share what it meant at the time, how it's evolved, and what it means for me now.
I can remember waiting for a train home after work one night about three years ago, and chatting on the phone with my friend Kasia. I was going through a pretty hectic time in my life, I'd just seen the end of some pretty long-term friendships, and was still essentially sewing the seams back together and trying to create a sense of order in my every life.
At the time, I can remember telling Kasia that, "Honestly, I know that I'm my own kind of crazy. Craziness is kind of a pre-requisite for being my friend and that's fine, like we'll form our own little club and get jackets or whatever. But there's a difference between say, 'Socially Acceptable, Exciting and Fun to be Around, Responsible and Capable Adult' type Crazy; and 'Wildly Chaotic, Tornado' type of Crazy."
At the time, we both claimed to have a pretty low tolerance level for other people's bullshit, and we would often talk about what we were willing to accept into our lives, and what we wouldn't. For the most part that meant not spending time with people we found stressed us out, which on the surface makes sense.
Over the last two years, we've each had our own paths to carve, lessons to learn and lives to lead, so while we used to see each other at least once a week, it's now way less frequent, and when we used to chat literally every day, we now check in and catch up every so often.
As it turns out, I have a particularly strong ability to recall information from different events with pretty accurate detail, so when Kasia called the other day for my opinion on something, I recalled a piece of information that might be useful could be in our Facebook Chat history.
This meant that we both then went through roughly eleven thousand messages sent back and forth since 2012 to find the conversation we'd been referring to.
Holy shit, it was an eye opening experience.
While we'd set rules and boundaries around who we allowed close, looking back into three years of history showed that we were definitely still surrounding ourselves with drama, and absorbing the negativity around us. Not only were we surrounded with hectic, stressful and negative energy, we were absolutely perpetuating it amongst ourselves. In no way were we being conscious of the thoughts we held, or the way we spoke in private conversations and how they were creating our realities.
Skimming by all of those messages made me realise how tightly I was clinging to my own sense of righteousness - even if I was willing to consider things from a different perspective, it was always with the arrogance of, thinking that I was still fundamentally right.
So how have things changed?
Well, over the years I started applying the same expectations I held of others to myself. I started to really understand that other peoples words and actions really have nothing to do with me.
I stopped reacting instantaneously or needing to be right - even in my own head, and have started taking time to really consider how I want to respond.
Saying no to unnecessary crazy means not judging other people just because I disagree with them.
It means forgiving people wholeheartedly when they piss me off, and realising that nobody else lives inside my head and has my particular world view or has had my unique experiences - nor I with others.
For me now, saying no to unnecessary crazy means being conscious of the thoughts I choose to believe, and the words I speak out loud.
It's the difference between saying, "Fuck that shit!" and "This doesn't matter to me."
It's the difference between being pissed that someone hasn't understood me, and realising that maybe I don't actually need them to understand me, or maybe I could work on how I get my point across.
It's the difference between trying to build up walls and dismissing other people as soon as I've decided that they're too hard to deal with, and learning that there are ways of setting boundaries without being a total dick.
It's the realisation that ending a provocative or insulting statement with #NOFILTER is bullshit. We all deliberately filter our words and our opinions constantly. Tacking on a NO FILTER hashtag is lazy and doesn't excuse being inconsiderate of other peoples feelings.
Saying no to unnecessary crazy means cutting out passive aggressive language, winding back the sarcasm for the sake of sarcasm, and thinking about the impact my words might have before I say them.
Ultimately, it means choosing to really listen to the words I think and speak and hear, and remembering that while I can't control the events that happen around me, I do get to decide how I to respond in any given situation.