Some years ago when I stopped to have a look at my life I found the words, “Are you someone who is very good at looking after everyone else to the almost exclusion of yourself?” Even though I didn’t see myself in this light at all, they somehow stuck in my brain, funny how that happens. The more I thought about it the more I realised I was labelling myself selfish for being busy, busy, busy. I was into distraction and the bottom line was I wasn’t taking care of myself, you know eating rubbish, drinking too much, dashing from one adventure to the next, not getting enough sleep and my mind racing a hundred miles a minute. It was amazing how it had all crept up on me over the years without me even noticing.
My feeling of being selfish lead me to put all those who were really good at looking after other people on a pedestal, now I was feeling really bad about myself. Talk about abuse, I was getting very good at it. Yes, indeed it’s true it looked like others were doing a great job of being there for everyone and taking care of other people’s needs. I wanted to shake off my selfish label and be in that space.
I tried being ‘nice’ and putting others first but it felt hollow and I made myself even more wrong.
There was nothing for it, I just somehow got it that I had to clean up my own act, deal with my own business before I could even attempt to help anyone else and I don’t mean as a therapist just as a human being.
Yes, it’s an ongoing work in progress just like life and I have to say it is worth every bit of the effort to feel calm, loving, energised and yes, yes alive.
Just a thought, do you ever ask yourself, "is my ’being nice’ or ’being busy’ robbing me of my own life? If so, let me tell you, you are not alone, many people take on the role of caretaker or organiser extraordinaire. What you may not realise, is the high personal price you pay for taking on the roles.
There is a very good reason the air crew remind us to put our own oxygen mask on first before we even put on our child’s mask. However, in life we can sometimes run around the aircraft without our mask helping everyone, then wondering why they are all doing fine and we are totally exhausted.
How do you value yourself? Not a question you asked recently? How do you feel about not having time for yourself? Does the idea of really looking after your own needs sound selfish, arrogant and uncaring? If so ... why?
Very often we have learnt as a small child that looking after everyone’s’ needs are more important than looking after our-self. If we were rewarded with words of praise or treats when we sacrificed our own needs we learnt this is how I get rewarded. Back then our only real need was to feel safe, loved and approved of by those who took care of us. What messages did you receive when you wanted to play with your favourite toy? Can you hear that tone of voice now making you wrong or praising you for knowing what you wanted in life?
How our need for love and approval was satisfy as a child strongly influences our behaviour as an adult. When we are pinning our happiness on the approval, acknowledgement and love from others we are in for a bumpy ride. Where is it written we are to love others MORE than ourselves?
How would it be to not take on any commitments which are done out of resentment or obligation?
Who is looking after you while you are looking after everyone else? Who says you are less important?
I’m talking about valuing self not being selfish. When my cup is empty from exhaustion, hurt, disappointment, anxiety and fear of what others might think of me. Can I really offer others love and support?
I’m talking about when my cup is full of love, peace and a positive outlook, I am in a much better place to share and support.
I’m talking about loving myself and by that I mean looking after myself.
Is life running away from you? It will continue to gain speed unless you put on the brakes.
Tips for creating change:
Imagine feeling completely motivated to look after yourself.
Imagine feeling in control when you look at the in-tray, vending machine or fridge.
Imagine feel calm and in control when the kids are running wild.
Imagine sleeping peacefully all night and waking refreshed full of energy.
Imagine taking time for yourself, then looking and feeling how you want to feel.
If it was your best friend do you think they deserve all this?
Why would you not want the same for yourself?
What are the obstacles in your way?