Growing up, my mom had one favorite go-to quote. “If I die tomorrow, Daff, you need to know how to do ______” (fill in the blank with any variety of life action verbs such a plan, learn, apply, pay, ask, etc.). We make tons of fun about it now, but realistically, my mom was dead set on making us as knowledgeable and experienced as possible.
She knew, as I understand now, the importance of being in the world and preparing for all of the scary things that can come our way. She raised 6 fighters to say the least, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The world can be an intimidating place: crazy politicians, crime and negative energy from those who aren’t ready to love quite yet are everywhere. Learning how to survive, thrive and really find our place in life as we grow and mature is so important for happiness and a stress-free life. I’m confident that the determination my mom exuded throughout her journey in raising us helped toughen me up and approach the world with a problem-solving mindset. Now, as a 26-year-old business owner, I am learning how incredibly important these lessons were and are for my success. I consider myself an innovator, a creative soul, someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions and get to where I want to be.
While I treasure the traits that my mom instilled in me, I am finding an overwhelming need to head a little bit in the other direction and shelter myself… shelter my heart, my time, my brain and my love. I find that when I don’t actively practice keeping me safe (I consider this the practice of self-love, or at least part of it), the positive and uplifted me is chipped away at slowly. Unfortunately, the easier way out is often to let negative energy and influences come and stay in your life.
Whether you acknowledge them right away or not, negative influences both near and far have a serious affect on your ability to grow, love and be successful. What does a distant negative influence look like? It could be something as small as a negative acquaintance on Facebook constantly sharing disturbing or hateful messages. You may only see it in passing and you may skip right over it, but over time, you are being exposed to hate. Only love cures and only love moves us forward. Ask yourself: What does the opposite do?
Another example is a friend or family member who doesn’t support you or show you love. Instead, they make snarky comments and, for lack of a better word, hate on you and your life. You may feel compelled to deal with it and let it go since they are family or close friends but by doing so, you are not sheltering yourself in situations you need to be practicing the highest level of self-care. While you may not be ready to eliminate people from your life (and I’m not implying we should abandon those who are close to use), it is absolutely up to you to take control of your emotional well being. It’s your responsibility to make sure that anyone who gives you that icky feeling in your stomach, does not have the power to KEEP giving you that icky feeling in your stomach! It is crucial that you keep your thoughts at peace, sleep well at night and feel excited about your life and your relationships.
Sheltering yourself from negativity does not make you a sheltered person. It does not mean that you live a sheltered life and are closed to culture, change, experience and new things. It means that you are actively preserving your happiness and ensuring that you have a safe harbor of love to always come back to. It means that the family you create and grow with also has a safe and positive place of love to reside in and learn from. This is the most beautiful kind of shelter.
There’s a negative connotation that comes to mind when you hear someone say, “they are really sheltered” or “they are raising really sheltered children.” In most situations, this type of “sheltered” is not what I am referring to. I firmly believe in exposing our children to the things of the world that matter. I believe in showing our youth what amazing opportunities they have and more importantly, how little others in the world have. I think it’s important to be real and raw with our youth — we are humans and that is our nature. It is, however, equally as important to show our children and our loved ones that only love cultivates a lifestyle that is positive and progressive. Love allows us to be fearless and daring. Problem solving is easier when we know our support system has our back. Ambition comes smoothly when we know those who matter most will accept our failures and love us even closer to our goals.
I encourage you to assess your safe harbor. What does it look like? Is it filled with love and support? Are there forces in your life trying to break that shelter down? Are the most important elements of our human-self safe? Our thoughts, our love and our bodies? If not, it’s time to take control of the most important component in our life-ourselves.