I had a conversation with a coworker and friend today that really stuck with me. She has studied to be a life coach and we began talking about our life situations which are similar in that we are both single parents trying to do right by our children while simultaneously trying to find what is right for us. While relaying an anecdote about her daughter, she mentioned how her advice was to “take yourself out of it”. No matter the situation, just approach it as if you were not involved.
Her daughter (and I) protested, Aren’t we supposed to be self-aware? Aren’t we supposed to be doing the best for ourselves? Aren’t we supposed to be somewhat selfish? Yes. But when trying to decide what to do or how to deal with someone or a situation, the key is to come at it from the outside. With love. Without judgement. Without the self that causes passionate stubbornness and self-righteous actions. But to approach from the outside, understanding the motivations of others and being present to their needs. That isn’t to indicate that another’s needs are more important than your own. It is to accomplish your own goals and one’s own ultimate happiness.
As a single mom, I often feel like I am elevating other people’s needs above my own. Especially my children’s. Which is right and good, mostly, except when it isn’t. The bottom line is that fulfilling their needs is my ultimate goal, but how I go about it is purely driven by my own view of what they need and how to fulfill it. If I take myself out of it and really study what their needs are and how to accomplish them, it becomes much clearer and then my goal is fulfilled as well. Win-win. I’m always looking for those moments.
It is in my genetic makeup to be a people-pleaser. It is what I do. At alternating times in my life it has made me feel like a saint, a martyr, a doormat, and an imposter. But if I take myself out of it, suddenly it is just about being a good citizen of the world. Helping people get what they need by how I act and react to things. And helping myself in the same way. It is going to take a while to re-aquaint myself with this concept. I ditched the doormat. But when I did, I ditched a very integral part of me that has been worming its way back into my life in unhealthy ways. In this new approach, I can address the needs of everyone around me (and mostly my children), and still fulfill my ultimate goals as a person without feeling like I am sacrificing myself in the process.