Why is it that, when at the crossroads of disappointing others or letting ourselves down, we choose the latter road so easily? When do we fall out of our own graces? What are the consequences? These are questions I prefer to shove under the rug each time they rear their tired head and repeat to me what I already know. I yell back at them that I am a caring human being, that I have to help others, that this is how we are supposed to be and choose to ignore the fact that only self love would actually put the right foundation at the basis of all these acts. Only self love would keep resentment at bay.
This week my coach and I talked about my compulsive desire to be a saviour, to help others many times to the detriment of my own wellbeing. Hold on, no, I am not tooting my horn. This is not a quality, this is a flaw. This too is an addiction like behavior that feeds into the obsession that “if I won’t help everyone, all the time, I will fall out of graces, I won’t be loved, I will be left on the side.” No, not healthy. Or fun.
I wonder what seeds were planted in me from the creation of my very first cells that made me so convinced I am inferior to others. That telling myself to sit down and shut up is to be preferred to telling others no or that I have reached a limit. Trying to correct this in me seems like an uprooting – if this is not the person I am … who am I then?
So, going back to coaching, I am unlearning the automatic behavior of saying “I don’t matter so much, others do, a lot, and this speaks so highly of my values” and replacing it with a power statement that says “I care for people. It is ok to help them within the limits of my needs and possibilities.” Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I can afford to work with a coach and highly value our interactions. It just breaks my heart to a certain degree that I have to work on this (and I know I am not alone) and that it feels so uphill.
During my coaching session I referred to Gary Chapman’s metaphor of a love tank to say that when my reservoir is empty I have nothing to give. But this was wrong to bring into this discussion. It’s simply justifying my offering myself time, self love, a break, by the need to have something to give others. No! This isn’t it. We are intrinsically deserving of our own love, our cherishing of ourselves and our self care. We don’t do this to serve others, we do this to serve ourselves. If there is one thing I want to teach my son is that his needs matter, that he matters just because he exists, that he doesn’t have to excuse himself for saying no, I don’t want to do this, I can’t do this, I don’t have time for this. Or simply, I am taking care of myself now. And to not see this as taking from anything but simply the natural order of things.
No, this has nothing to do with being unkind. This is about setting healthy boundaries and listening to our bodies and minds. And if you take a minute and think about it, a world of people who are self loving, honest and caring with themselves is a pretty awesome one. (I will stop here and not add all of the words that come to me about how being this kind of person will make wonderful communities, give us potential to help others and generally just be better humans. 🙂 )