If you're anything like me, it might be easy to serve others, even to the point of neglecting yourself. I feel like I’ve been trained to do it ever since I was a little girl. After all, women are designed to care for others, it’s in our DNA – I mean we literally make babies with our bodies!
But I’m pretty sure some of the message about caring for others got screwed up, there is definitely a piece missing - a vital piece. So often, moms suffer from overwhelm but they continue to push themselves long after they have reached exhaustion. It’s like we missed the piece about also caring for ourselves, and only got the part about serving others. As a result, we have lost our ability to have compassion for ourselves and live a kind of half life.
What is compassion?
If compassion is about seeing others in pain or suffering, and taking an action to help, well then, is it not compassionate to ease your own pain, as well? Why do we often see taking care of ourselves as "selfish" and dismissive?
There is no balance there - compassion is a tangible expression of love. As I get older, I believe more and more that this expression must begin at home, with the self - charge your own battery, clean your own inner house, care for your own needs, put on your own mask, be in balance and joy - AND then go and share that energy with others. That's vital, radiant, energy - the energy of love. And I think it has way more power than the lesser, draining energy of service with the side of suffering.
Service with a side of suffering
Truth feels good in your heart and body, and most women I know, do not feel good. They feel separate, less than, run down, and they stuff and hide from their true emotions in order to push through the demands of another mediocre day.
I was raised, as I said, with the idea that part of my life, my duty as a woman, would be to serve others – either my husband, my children, or my community. I, as in myself, apparently, was not on that list. But what was included was a caveat that suffering for my service was somehow noble.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to realize that’s a bunch of bullshit, and no, I am not apologizing for my language.
Listen, ladies, we’ve been bamboozled. And this is why so many of us feel bad. You feel bad, because it’s not truth for you – this whole belief structure of serving others to your detriment. Truth feels good in your heart and body, and most women I know, do not feel good. They feel separate, less than, run down, and they stuff and hide from their true emotions in order to push through the demands of another mediocre day.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This causes all sorts of inner conflict and the biggest one is – what to do with those pesky emotions that keep coming up? Those desires? Those needs? How do you deal with them?
The mentality of service with side of suffering's answer: don’t.
Ignore them, they are how you get to suffering and they are supposed to be there.
This might be the most damaging suggestion out there! Yet, we all do it.
Ways of not dealing with your emotions:
Because so many women, and let’s be honest, people in general, don’t know how to deal with their emotions, especially the ones you think you aren’t supposed to have – like that feeling you just can’t shake that you really ought to be able to take care of yourself first and not feel guilty or shameful, because someone will call you “selfish” for having your own needs – you hide.
We all hide.
Human beings are supremely creative individuals and can find all manner of ways to avoid doing something they don’t want to do. And because we are also powerful manifestors, we can inadvertently create drama in our lives to hide in and use as a distraction from dealing with our feelings.
Here are some of the ways we can hide. I got these from the book, The Warrior Heart Practise, by HeatherAsh Amara.
Physically – as in walking out, getting sick, having accidents, falling asleep, clean the house, diving into exercise,
Emotionally – get angry, shut down, go silent, have self-doubt, slip into ambivalence, talking incessantly, get confused
Mentally – change the subject, let it go as in ignore or “forget”, make mental lists, analyze, rationalize, intellectualize, go blank, count (as in tit-for-tat)
We also strike out in “defense” by lying, becoming self-righteous, justifying, criticizing or feeling criticized, resenting and getting indignant
Or we engage in sabotaging behaviour such as addictions, retail therapy, eat, watch TV (veg out), dive into work, obsess and get compulsive, or engage in other behaviour that is abusive in some way.
Did you check any of these boxes? I know I did when I first read the list. Many of mine were emotional.
I want to pause and be clear about something - things like exercise and cleaning the house are not always ways of running from your emotions, but they can be. Pretty much every time my partner and I get in a fight, one of us will suddenly have a bunch of chores that need doing which trump the need for the fight, which started off as a conversation about how one of us was feeling.
For a long time, I thought this was the normal way of existing.
In reality, this isn’t helping anyone. Especially if you’re so run down you no longer have a buffer of patience. So, what to do about it?
The Power of Beliefs
Our "realities" are make believe - whatever we make ourselves believe, we experience. JenSincero
I love science. Science and Spirituality, even the woo - all day for me. If you are in a conversation with me for more than five minutes, I will gravitate to one of these topics. Like the other day, I was shovelling my driveway because we got dumped on with snow and I got to talking with neighbour. It started off small talky enough, the weather, the snow, how it would effect schools, the "new" reality of life in a pandemic. Then it drifted into politics and beliefs and before you know it, I was going off about quantum mechanics and epigentics, which are two new branches of science.
Without geeking out on you, it comes down to this: what we used to know about the universe has needed an upgrade and is getting one. Life is not all solid matter, the atom is the smallest building block, and 2+2=4 certainty as we originally believed. Nope, it turns out that with new science equipment, we have been able to magnify our perspective down to a much smaller scale - something called the quantum. And on this quantum level, one can only deal in probability because, turns out, matter is not solid after all. On the super small scale, its moving particles of light, just as Einstein said.
Well, this then got the scientists into looking at genes and they realized that genes can turn on and off depending on what the conscious self "believed" about those genes! This is like saying, my dad does at 59 from a heart attack, so I'm pretty much going to die then too. It's in my genes. Scientists are now proving that thinking and believing that is true is far more likely to give you a heart attack than your actual genes will.
What does this mean fr you? Why am I sharing it? Because, science is realizing and proving that the universe if a vast soup of potentiality, of possibility and it is you choices that collapse all the other possibilities (make them go away) and leave you with the one you choose.
So, if you believe you are supposed to suffer - you will.
If you believe life is hard - it is.
If you believe there is not enough, you are not enough - there is not enough.
If there are infinite possibilities of what your reality could be - and the power comes from you choosing and believing it deep in your cells, programming your "reality" into your cells, well, hen - why not program health, happiness, wholeness, and joy? It sure can't be worse than the suffering you've got now, right? Don't you deserve to be happy?
(Spoiler alert - that answer is a solid "YES!!!!!")
Feeling safe to love yourself
You do not need to earn validation, you do not need permission, you do not need to prove anything to anyone one else, except maybe yourself.
Self-compassion is kindness shown to yourself in order to receive what you deserve – it’s an energetic lock in, a declaration of your own value. It is a belief you are embedding into your cells and will help get out all the other beliefs that don't match this one.
The first step to having self compassion is to let go of the idea of serving and suffering as validation of your worth – you don’t need to earn it.
I’m going to say that again, because it might not be a pattern match for many and while you read it, it might just have slipped right off you. You do not need to earn validation, you do not need permission, you do not need to prove anything to anyone one else, except maybe yourself.
Start with you. Ask yourself how you feel, what you need? Start small if it feels weird because you never really do it.
Don’t run away or hide, dismiss or ignore. Serve yourself for once and leave the suffering bit out. What is your heart telling you? What dream lives there? What do you want to say? How to do you want to express? What gets you excited and makes your blood pump? What small act of kindness do you wish someone would pay you right now? Give it to yourself!
You only get one life, one chance to grow, explore, drink from the nectar of joy, connect with the divine, dig your highest self out from under the layers of other people’s stuff, dust her off and give her a spin out the playground of “reality”. One chance.
Yes, risk is scary. Yes, you may worry what others will say, how others will react. You might hesitate, imagining their reaction.
But let me ask you this:
At the end of it all, and don’t dismiss this as a cliché, sit with this idea for a bit – at the end, do you really want to wonder what you could have done, could have been, or how much joy, laughter, and excitement you left on the table?
I doubt it. Imagination is great, but action is better.
Fear is powerful, but not nearly as powerful as love.
Change is uncomfortable, but not as much as living in a toxic circumstance.
Now this is cliche, but no less true - you need to believe in yourself. This is where all you power, all your wholeness, all your potential lies. Not out there, but inside. (OMG I just heard the GOONIES' speech in my head just now. You know where they are under the wishing well and Mikey is telling them that if they leave now, they'll miss their time, "It's our time down here, nit up there!" hahaha totally dating myself, anyhoo - I was saying)
Learning to trust in yourself, to connect to your higher self, and giving her a chance to play is a skill. It takes practise. You can learn it.
Too often, we are afraid to start, because we know, deep down in the unconscious realms, just how much has built up, how much is stuck, how much is not “truth”, and the very thought of this magnitude is so overwhelming, we are arrested, stopped in our tracks before we ever have a chance to begin.
Sure, you have to have courage to get over that hump of fear. Sure, some people might be bent out of shape if you change some parts of you. Chances are pretty good, though, that those people were profiting off of you and your energy in some way and they don’t want to give that up - but too bad. Sorry, not sorry.
Your real tribe, your real community – they want to see you shine in all your glory; they want to see you go for it, spread your wings, have some fun, and see what happens.
They want you to imagine your life where even if you are doing every day things, you are loving it, you are caring for yourself, there is enough time, there is enough space – and underneath it all is this feeling of, “yes! I get to do this – I get to enjoy my kids, my family, my friends. I have space to breath and even though things might be challenging or down right difficult, I’m up for it, because I’m amazing and I get to play with that truth often. I have so many dreams and desires; there are so many things I’d like to do with this one life I get; there is so much beauty to experience, including myself – mostly myself. I’m a beautiful creation and there is so much more of me to know, to learn, to grow into! I’ve barely even tapped into what I’m capable of! I believe in the possibility of knowing myself deeply and compassionately!”
Is your heart beating yet? Is that blood moving, pulsing with excitement and fear?
Excellent! That is your soul, that is your heart, that is the real YOU waking up - the one who needs and deserves your compassion the most. And if this feeling scares you - great!! Get to know her - that joy you want to feel when you're with your kids instead of being angry or short, that joy lives here. The energy you are looking for to connect, to feel inspired and creative, that vitality lives here. Anything you are seeking, love, wholeness, connection, peace, balance, feeling grounded - it all lives right here, inside this part of you - the lost part, the ignored part, the part you've been told to treat like a freeloader and "selfish."
You don’t need to start big – small steps are great. Maybe start by simply placing your hands on your heart and/or your belly and saying “hello, soul. How are you?” Maybe ask your body, “how do you feel? What do you need? What is one thing I can do for you right now?” and breathe with it a few moments, and simply be present. Tap into your higher self.