[Warning: Deep reflections ahead]
Taking care of others can be a beautiful thing. But taking care of others at the expense of ourselves is damaging in more than obvious ways. This has come up as a huge theme for me in the last couple weeks. People who grow up in abusive and angry homes learn how to read others around them to know whether they are safe or not. As an empath, with the ability to feel the emotions of others very clearly, I became extremely good at reading others and figuring out how to behave in ways that would make things the most pleasant for everyone, including me.
But this survival skill outlasted it’s relevance and became a negative habit in my life. It became a part of how I functioned to assume that if someone around me wasn’t happy, it was my responsibility and duty to bend over backwards in some way to make them happy, regardless of the detriment to me. There was actual anxiety and panic in situations where I knew I could not take care of them and take care of me at the same time. It always felt like I had to sacrifice my well-being in order to take care of others because I associated care of others with my survival, with me being loved. These patterns are ingrained at such a young age, where being cared for and loved equals survival.
Thankfully, I’ve been seeing this pattern more clearly and making big changes. I also have amazing mentors, and one of them has been covering this theme regularly the last couple weeks.
In a situation recently, it hit me that I had always dreamed of being married and of taking care of my Love. I had resolved from a young age that I would be in tune with her needs, and honor those above anyone else’s desires. But at the same time, I have been neglecting myself all these years. I realized that I was the lover I was supposed to be caring for and, sadly, I was not. So I took immediate action to change that, honor myself in the moment. It went really well.
To someone who has always taken care of others over self, it feels selfish to love me as much as I love others. I would never push someone else to do something that was damaging to themselves for my own benefit, so why do I expect that of myself? We are each ultimately responsible for ourselves, for our own care. When I take responsibility for someone else’s care, I take away their power. It’s just as damaging to them as it is to me.
I am committing to radical self-love. I am practicing being okay with disappointing others. I will pause in each situation, and take the time that is required to understand my needs, and I will honor them. I understand it will be a process, and I will learn about deeper insecurities along the way, but it’s too important to continue
I am valuable. I deserve love. And, therefore, I will honor and love myself, and meet my needs. I will trust in the ability of others to care for themselves, even as I make a priority of caring for myself.