Have you ever truly wanted something for yourself, but you were worried because you knew it was going to be perceived as negatively impacting another person you care about? If so, this is the blog post for you. When we really want something and know somebody else is not going to like it, we usually have a hard time making ourselves a priority. I am going to present three primary points around why it is not only okay to let other people down in a quest to lift ourselves up, but also necessary and the most loving thing we can do for everybody involved.
· Our Opinion of Ourselves Must be the Most Important One
· Discomfort is Not a Big Deal
· Everything is Happening For Us, Not to Us
Our Opinion of Ourselves Matters the Most
The most important relationship you will ever have is with the woman in the mirror. The thoughts you have about her will determine what kind of relationship you have with other people. If you are kind and loving toward her, you are more likely to be that way with others. If you are super judgmental and critical of her, you will bring that negativity to all your relationships. This idea that it is more important what other people think of us is just not true. Our opinion is the one that matters the most.
So let’s take a closer look at that. If you wanted to think highly of yourself and feel good when you looked in the mirror, would it be easier to do that if you liked the way you were showing up in your life or not? Now we know thoughts are optional and determine how we feel, but we have to believe them in our body for that to be true. We can’t just say I love myself and it is so. So how do you think you would feel if you really wanted to skip that glass of wine because you promised yourself you would, but you gave in because your best friend needed a wine buddy? Or what would you be thinking if you determined that you wanted to lose weight, but your roommate brought home a delicious dessert just for you and you ate it because you did not want to disappoint her? How would it feel if you knew you had planned to do important work in your business, but you blew it off because your spouse wanted to hang out with you? What might come up if you continually put your needs on the back burner, so that the people around you do not get disappointed.
I’ll tell you what could come up; you could be totally disappointed in yourself! You could possibly lose faith in yourself that you do not keep your word. You might question your integrity and ability to follow through with your intentions. You could start to resent the loved ones around you and blame them because you could not stop people-pleasing. Your relationship with yourself might deteriorate and then it would most likely carry over to all of your relationships.
Now let’s look at what happens when we make ourselves a priority at times. What might you be thinking if you said you were not going to drink with your friend and you didn’t? What would you think if your roommate brought you home a dessert and you thanked her but said you wanted to freeze it and save it for another time because you are trying to lose weight? How might you feel if you kept your commitment to your work and told your husband he would have to fend for himself for a while? If you made these choices instead, you would most likely feel much better about that woman in the mirror. You would feel like you had her back and like she was important and a priority. You would feel love for her and appreciation for how she showed up. To be clear, you always have this option to consciously choose whatever thought you want regardless of the decisions you make, but typically we are driven by our subconscious, our automatic programming, and that tends to be driven by our judgments about our behavior. When we are in a place of self-love and believing in our value and worth, we show up to our relationships in a totally different way. A way that permits us to show up as our best selves, free of resentment, blame and negative judgments about others, which improves our relationships.
Discomfort is Not a Big Deal
Okay so clearly we know by now that being a human with a brain is going to require us to experience uncomfortable emotions. I don’t care how hard you try to make decisions that keep you in your comfort zone, life is going to take you out of it whether you like it or not. I say why not choose the kind of discomfort you want to experience and embrace it. For example, if we are listening, we can hear when our soul is calling us to transform to the next level. We can try to ignore it and squash it away with food and beverage or whatever, but it will just keep getting louder until the discomfort forces us to take some sort of action. On the other hand, we can choose to answer the calling and proactively pick the kind of discomfort that comes with personal growth.
For example, I chose to make myself a priority by getting certified as a life coach and deciding to become an entrepreneur in my late 50s, knowing full well that my husband was navigating how to retire and spend more time with me. This “dilemma” has caused me a great deal of discomfort at times because it felt like I had to decide whose needs were more important and, in the past, I would have subconsciously believed his were. But I am not the same person anymore and I have reprogrammed my subconscious to believe my needs are just as important as everybody else’s. So while it has been extremely uncomfortable for me at times to say no when my husband wants me to go for a hike or decline to go swimming because I have work to do, I do it anyways. And yes, as a result I still experience discomfort, but it is the kind that comes from having my own back and loving myself which is well worth it. I sound amazing here, don’t I? If only I always ended up here, LOL.
There are many times I end up in a different emotional place because I say yes to spending time with him, so he won’t get mad or because I feel guilty that I am not making him more of a priority. When this happens, I usually end up dwelling in many more negative emotions that culminate in a hefty dose of resentment and self-righteousness. To be clear, there are also times where I just decide out of love that I want to make him a priority, and then it feels good, and the result is what I desire.
There is also a third scenario which can happen when my subconscious is in charge, where I say no to him and get pissed off that he wants me to do stuff with him when I am trying to work. My thoughts are along the lines of he knows I am trying to be successful, why does he keep trying to take me away from my work? Or maybe OMG, I wish he would stop pressuring me to not work. Those thoughts lead to feelings of frustration, intolerance and impatience with him, and the end result is I am not the best version of me, and I do not achieve the results I was going after. I also want to point out here that this is total victim mentality, where I am giving him all the power when I determine that how I am going to feel is based on his behavior. It is also worth noting that I am implying my husband should not be inviting me to hang out with him. LOL, which is completely controlling and total BS. My husband gets to do him, and I have no say in it. So long story short (kind of), life is going to be uncomfortable no matter what and sometimes it is okay to feel the discomfort from letting our loved ones down when we are taking care of ourselves in a positive way.
Everything Happens For Us, Not to Us
Okay so it is one thing to accept this concept when it is just us feeling like a victim, but when we believe our behavior could be making somebody else feel like a victim it can be a little bit harder to embrace. So let’s unravel this so that we can clearly see why it is so important to recognize that everything happens for us, and not to us. I will use the example of my business and my husband getting ready to retire to illustrate my point.
The first point I want to make here is that emotional adulthood dictates that we cannot make anybody else feel anything. The only way that my husband can feel anything about me choosing to start a coaching career later in life is because of what he is thinking. When he thinks it is wonderful that I am helping so many people, he is going to feel differently than he would if he was thinking she is working too much.
Circumstances trigger thoughts, those create emotions, those lead to actions and finally a result. If my husband is proud of me, he would probably be feeling supportive, be inspired to say or do something kind, and the result would be positive. If on the other hand, he was focused on me working too much, the emotion could be resentment, that could lead to bickering and disagreements, and the result would most likely be negative. My point here is that the first thing we must remember when we take care of ourselves, is that we are not responsible for anybody else’s emotional state, just our own.
Now that we have established where emotions come from, let’s talk about how they happen for us, not to us. Every time we experience a feeling in our body, both good and bad, it is a window into how our brain is thinking. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Say I have plans with a friend for lunch because she needs me to help her with her resume, but I am totally exhausted because I was up all-night taking care of sick child and did not get to bed until 5am. The way I see it I have two options here. If I was taking care of myself in this situation and listening to my body, I would understand that the situation was happening for me and I would tell the friend I am really sorry, but we are going to have to reschedule. Yes it could be uncomfortable because she really needs my help, but following through with my own self- care requires practice and repetition and the more I do it the better off I am. In this case I would view the situation in terms of what it can teach me, or how it can help me to grow. But if I am a people-pleaser and not used to making my needs a priority over somebody else’s, it could be very uncomfortable for me to do that. In fact, I might complain how nothing works out for me and that the world is always conspiring against me. From this perspective, the situation is happening to me, and I am so caught up in complaining about it and wishing it was different, that I don’t learn the lessons available in the moment. I would also most likely go to lunch even though I was exhausted and end up resenting my friend for my inability to take care of myself. Do you see how thinking everything is happening for us and not to us is so much more empowering? Think if it this way. Every time we people-please and make other people the priority, we are robbing them of the opportunity for personal growth! Choosing to go to lunch with them when we are full of negative emotions and energy is not helping anybody. Not really, even if it looks like it on the surface.
So to recap, you officially have permission to take care of yourself even if it means letting a loved one down. The three main reasons I discussed why were that healthy relationships dictate that our opinion of ourselves must matter the most, and if we don’t have our own back, it is not going to be a positive opinion. I also argued while it might be uncomfortable to make ourselves a priority, that does not have to be a problem or come into our decision process. No matter what we do in life, we are going to experience discomfort and there is no way to avoid it. But the more frequently we choose the kind of discomfort that comes with growth, the more we evolve. Lastly, every time we choose to take care of ourselves and learn the lessons of the present moment, we are operating on the premise that everything happens for us, not to us. This is not only an empowering way to live, it is also the most loving thing we can do for everybody involved because it basically means that every time we experience discomfort because we chose our needs over another human’s we are giving them the opportunity to grow. Join me in the Brain BS™ Podcast to discuss this further.