Above is The A’s response to my fear of putting my needs first, or rather treating my needs as important as everyone else’s. In this instance, the fear showed up as putting my needs before my imagined immediate needs of my kids!
Juggling competing needs is difficult and not everyone’s needs are always going to be met in that moment.
Rather than give you a solution here, because well that’s just impossible 😉 and would be a book, not a blog post. Instead, I’m going to offer my own thoughts for your own reflections and maybe further conversations.
Most of my own reflections this week sprang from conversations with good friends, maybe you and I can keep that flow going?
For me there are two angles to this that I want to focus on:
- Abandoning myself my not finding ways to meet my own needs and instead focusing on the needs of others. Also known as self-sacrifice, rescue and martyrdom pattern 😉
- And the closely related way we abandon ourselves when we seek the approval of others.
I’ll offer two personal examples for illustration purposes and then invite you to a conversation about your own versions of this.
Putting other people’s needs first.
This shows up for me in running. It is the strangest thing.
I’m out on a glorious run, about 5 miles in. Blue skies, sun not too hot. I’ve run out of my mind and into my body which means I’ve hit the “rhythm.”
Then I stop.
No conscious thought. My body just comes to a grinding halt.
“I need to go home.”
“I don’t deserve this much joy.” My mind flies to the needs of my kids (they are fine at home!)
This pattern of making sure everyone else is okay before I tend to my own needs is so deeply conditioned it almost feels like an instinctive response.
It’s not my true instincts, my true instincts are to enjoy the hell out of this beautiful run in this wonderful coastline.
It’s fear pure and simple. Fear of the consequences of enjoying myself so much.
So I override the desire to turn around and head home. I invite the fear into my body and take it running with me. I offer that conditioned part another perspective. Talk it into running with me and reassure it.
One belief that helps me at times like this is something that I first learned from my first spiritual mentor, Gil Edwards.
“My needs are as important as everyone else’s”
My kids were happy and safe in that moment. Their needs were met. I needed to keep meeting mine.
Another way this shows up in daily life is by putting everything before my running. It’s last on the list when it could actually serve everyone if I made it more of a priority (over cooking, cleaning and even- shock horror – work!)
I will forever be juggling and adapting the daily demands of competing needs, but just having the awareness of how easy I find it to drop my priorities over others, is helpful to stop a default pattern and allowing me to make a more conscious choice.
Another mantra I have to help me with competing needs is the question:
“What is the win: win here?”
If everyone’s needs could be met what does that look like?
Sometimes that means people’s needs are met by someone other than me 😉 Or at a later time, or in a more creative way. It’s a great question.
Where are you experiencing won: loose solutions? If you follow my work, chances are you are the one that is on the side of losing and self-sacrifice.
If that’s true, what could you do to shift into a win: win? Try to think in the moment solutions and wider perspective solutions. Wider perspectives tend to lead to bigger changes with longer-lasting fulfilment.
And here’s a totally different way I can abandon myself.
And I must say, if it wasn’t for a conversation with a good friend last week and a blog post by Liz Gilbert, I would have totally missed how I abandon myself in this way.
The way I can abandon myself is through seeking approval or even bracing myself for criticism via my work.
Here’s the self-talk – “I should toughen up and be able to take it.” And this is where Liz Gilbert and Brene Brown have really helped me. The learning I’m taking from both of them is, I only ask for a critique of my work from people who have earned the right to my inner circle.
I can see now how I used to let too many people into that inner circle.
People who were “letting me know for my own good” but when I looked, they were also people who weren’t putting themselves into “the arena” as Brene Brown would say. Who hadn’t offered their craft, their authentic work to the world.
And also people who just weren’t kind were projecting their own fears onto me, OR even the opposite of kind and actually harmed my relationship with creativity.
When I say kind, I don’t mean critiquing. There’s a huge difference between a helpful critique with offered solutions or alternatives and just plain criticism for the sake of it, or a futile attempt at perfectionism.
And you know who gets to decide where the line is drawn in that distinction?
My creativity is my business. I hope to add value for you, for the world, in some way and I’ll find out if that’s true at some point through the natural consequences of people investing their time, energy and money into my work – or not.
But ultimately, my creativity is a vehicle for my relationship with my soul and Source energy. It’s such an intimate process which is why it can feel so vulnerable.
So I create for me first and then offer to others what feels right to do so.
And will I improve? Change? Fail? Yes. Already have. Many times over.
Take the picture for the quote in this blog post for example. It’s different from my usual style, it’s a tiny thing but indicative of a pull, a need to experiment in a larger way in my work. It’s also a result of my 13-year-old daughter responding to the words of The Ancients and offering her thoughts.
“You need a picture that reflects abandonment mum,” “The Ancients always feel blue to me” and “search for a font that’s weathered.”
Snuggled up together on the sofa, her thoughts mirrored my own and so now I have this picture that was gorgeous to create.
Will everyone like it?
Is it a huge issue? No, and yes because it marks the start of a new relationship with my creative process and THAT”S exciting and has huge implications.
The Ancients gave more to that quote.
“When you abandon yourself, you abandon everyone…because wherever you are, you are not really there”
So, when I abandon myself and turn to meet my own children’s needs. Do I really meet them if I’m not truly there?
Sometimes I need to turn into the moment and meet my other needs, my need to be a parent who is a secure base for them. My other needs can be met 5 mins, 1 hour, 1 day later.
Sometimes I turn to that moment and say no to my kids. I need to do this other thing first.
But in each case, I turn to the moment and meet the moment authentically, purposefully and consciously.
And then I abandon no one.
And in those moments where I forget to do that and I do abandon myself. As soon as I meet myself doing that, I turn to that moment and make it okay, I forgive myself for my self-abandonment.
And so again,
Even in my self-abandonment, I abandon no one.
Be there for yourself, wherever you may find yourself and never abandon yourself for the sake of another or no one’s needs will be met.
I’ll be wildly happy if this has sparked a new, kinder inner dialogue for you. I’d be equally wildly happy if you choose to share any of that inner dialogue either through your own work, emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leaving a comment.