For many of us, it can be a struggle to focus on ourselves. To put our needs first. To create the space necessary to rest, explore and dream when there seem to be so many other people and problems demanding our attention.
We tell ourselves we simply don’t have the time to put ourselves first. When it is usually more often the case that we’re choosing not to.
Because honoring ourselves may mean we’ll have to disappoint someone else. And for all of us caretakers, pleasers and perfectionists of the world– focusing on what other people want can sometimes feel safer than identifying our own needs. It’s often easier to abandon our own boat than it is to rock someone else’s.
The problem with banishing our own needs to the back burner, though, is that it can be very difficult to notice the exact point at which we begin taking our love and concern for others too far. How easy it can be to end up a martyr, when all we ever wanted to be was a helper. How often we may actually be twisting notions of our own “selflessness” into noble excuses for avoiding the tough conversations, hard work and spiritual lessons we’re supposed to be addressing. Often we don’t realize that our compulsive desire to tend to the needs of others is fueled, at least in part, by our desire to avoid, ignore and forget our own pain.
Sometimes, it’s easier to go without than it is to look within.
The truth is, though, ignoring our broken places won’t actually make them disappear. Avoiding our needs only makes them stronger. More persistent. More capable of dealing the kind of fatal damage we fear most. No matter what we do or don’t do, the pain will continue to call. Our power to confront it, however, will always be directly proportional to our willingness to answer the door.
We have a saying in Spanish that describes this article: No se lo mandas a decir con nadie. Loosely translated, it means, you don’t ask someone else to say it for you. What I want to say is that wowza, what a straightforward, yet loving way, of saying the naked truth. I find myself doing it “professionally.” I can spend hours and hours editing, critiquing, reviewing, giving feedback on someone else’s work and justify it because it is a worthy cause. I have helped lots of authors get published. It gives me the greatest excuse ever not to do the hard work of finishing my own stuff. Thank you for reminding me of that today.