It is always interesting to reflect back on my ongoing journey to self-awareness. I am lucky I have the aid of copious amounts of journals that I have kept through the ages to help me track my perceptions and actions through life.
There have been numerous shifts however, one of the most sedimented shifts that has started to emerge is one I never even knew I wanted to aspire to.
I was not sure about a lot of things about myself but the one thing I was profoundly proud of was that I was a helper and I loved to be of service to people. I felt good about this. I would make myself available to all and sundry at their beck and call. Don’t get me wrong, I will always want to be of service to the higher good, but at what expense?
When I became a mother, I would look at other mothers who made exercise a priority and left their babies with babysitters or crying whilst they worked out at an exercise park. I would shamelessly judge them as I tirelessly pushed my kids and probably around 3 other children that I volunteered to take out to the park that day. I sat on my sanctimonious high horse and confirmed to myself that “my baby comes first” and it seems a little selfish what they are doing. I cringe now in reflection, (a) that I dared to judge and (b) how truly distorted my perception was.
The word selfish in my mind was never a word I would want to be said about me. One of the worst insults I would be able to endure. Call me anything but do not call me selfish! I would run myself tirelessly giving so much of myself that I had nothing left to give to myself. In my mind I was this altruistic ‘Pollyanna’. This unrealistic label I had placed on myself started hindering me more than helping me. I was becoming resentful and restless and I never had time to concentrate on what was important to me. There is nothing worse than giving of yourself with resentment in your heart.
So what was my turning point? I was sitting on an airplane waiting for takeoff to go on a much-needed holiday. To say I was burned out would be an understatement. I was sitting in front of two young women who were talking about what they had planned for themselves. Massages, hair appointments etc. Around that time, the cabin crew started their spiel about safety measures and as I stared into the abyss with their meaningless chatter in the background and then I had a light bulb moment.
The crew spoke of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before helping children or other people. It was like a knock on the head from a higher power and an epiphany emerged. I must look after myself before I can be of any benefit to anyone else in my life.
The young women’s word revibrated in my mind as the jigsaw fell into place. I need to learn to invest in myself. I need to stop rejecting myself and putting everybody else’s needs above my own. I sat with this new knowledge to try to make sense of it. This was such a huge part of my identity it was going to take some deep reflection to make the shift. How do I make sense of it?
What I finally came to realize is this. I am not promoting the dictionary definition of selfish ( lacking consideration for other people and concerned with one’s own profit or pleasure). I am saying I need to be fair. I need to be fair to others, however, I need to keep myself in the equation and be fair to myself too. After all, I am one of G-ds children too.
I have subsequently started showing up for myself, investing in myself both with monetary treats as well as time. I’ve learned when I need to help others and when I need to help myself and I have noticed I show up in the world a much better person and I am of so much better service to those around me.
I have learned to be selflessly selfish.