Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I love when Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind holds a turnip to the sky and says she will never go hungry again. Ever. And I believe her. Her short proclamation - her manifesto - puts the universe on notice - you won't screw with me that way again. Forgive the vulgarity, but I think manifestos are extremely helpful. Once we say something out-loud or in a big way, we draw a line in the sand. We let the world know, I'm not going to let you treat me that way.
A good friend and I often tell each other in emails that we are going to change something about the way we are living life. We say it with such conviction that it leaves no doubt that changes will be made. It doesn't always have to be something big as in, "I'm going to lose 100 pounds and become a Master Pilates instructor by next month". It can be something small like, "I'm never going to pay full price for cashmere again". We do this so often, we now end our mini-manifestos with "Turnip!". I know just what she means.
But sometimes my manifestos are promises I make only to myself. They are the secret private pledges that no else needs to know. If I'm unhappy with the way I'm conducting myself, usually because of a goading provocateur, I will often feel a manifesto coming on. Here I write them as numbered lists, titled all the same: "MANIFESTO". I store them in a computer file and if I need to re-read my manifesto for a booster during times of weakness, I print my list and carry it in my bag for a few days. Inevitably, I align my behavior with my manifesto and life soon becomes better...more balanced...I am in control again.
Recently, I wrote a manifesto because of a nervous laugh I developed in response to someone's ongoing infantile behavior. I was tired of the off-color jokes that were making me feel less than, and I was afraid my laughing was giving the impression of collusion. I had forgotten who I was. A new manifesto came to the rescue (I will not smile when the joke is delivered...I will tell the jokester I am too busy to chat...I will keep myself doing the work at hand...).
Manifestos are also helpful when I am stressed and unfocused. This almost always happens when others' expectations of me are simply too high. By exhibiting the behavior outlined in my manifesto, I discover I have my own important priorities and I forgive myself for not taking on more than my peace of mind allows. I set the record straight and some boundaries along with it.
I highly recommend personal manifestos. Written out carefully and thoughtfully, you may discover that you are really doing ok and that someone else may have imposed their own personal agenda on you. I WILL stay true to my own beliefs... I WILL practice self-care no matter how much others want me to do...I WILL speak my truth quietly and with dignity...I WILL act in a way that is befitting Anne's granddaughter. And I WILL take as many bubble baths as humanly possible no matter what the drama-du-jour is. Turnip!