Quote of the Week: “Sit loosely in the saddle of life.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Writing Exercise of the Week: Think of a time in your life when someone thanked you for your help. What did you do and how did it make you feel? Write for 10 minutes.
This past month my ego has taken a beating.
It was overdue, for starters. When I talk about ego, I’m talking about the part of you that gets fearful (“What will people think?”) the part of you that revs up in survival mode when it feels threatened (“Oh yeah? I’ll show you!” or “Oh no! What am I going to do? What do I have to do? How can I fix this?”) or, worse yet, starts to believe the stories that made you crazy in the first place (“Maybe everyone’s right and I’m wrong.”) You begin to choose behavior and make decisions that accommodate everyone except for yourself. We’ve all played in this sandbox long enough to know how well that works (Hint: it doesn’t).
Is this selfishness? That depends on your definition. The heart of this conversation is about taking a stand for your own well-being, about caring how you feel and loving yourself enough to choose yourself first. Why? Because the minute you point attention away from your own sense of happiness and goodness, the crazy chatter begins. The anxiety kicks in. The “never enough” tally starts up. The “What else can I do?” pleas keeps going (And guess what? You can never “do” enough.) Your health might take a turn. You feel stressed, unhappy, and at times downright crazy. Worst of all, you no longer know who you are. Your connection with yourself breaks. You start to despise life, other people, and if it gets really bad, yourself.
Maybe today you’re having a good day. Maybe none of this applies to you and if that is the case, I hope we run into you soon because people who have learned to live from the inside-out are people we want to be around. They are comfortable with themselves and because of this, they are comfortable with other people. They don’t judge, they don’t use language or behavior that trigger defensive feelings in others (Warning: this language is usually shrouded in “nice talk” that’s trying to be “helpful.” These folks know the right buzzwords, but you’ll feel the truth of it in your gut. If it starts to feel pointed, personal, or deceptive, run.) People who are good with themselves know that wherever you are is OK. We will all be OK. They trust their own sense of self enough to let you trust yours. We are all doing the best we can, learning as we go, self-correcting and growing with each step. These people get that, and you know they get it not by what they say (Again, beware the “nice talk”) but how you feel when you are with them.
Sometimes things have to get so bad so you can finally decide, without question, that you’ve had enough. Because it’s exhausting, isn’t it? But when you feel good, you feel GOOD. It energizes you. Helping others is effortless and joyful, and you help them further by living authentically and with great care for yourself. If you are one of those “nice-talking” people (and we all are or have been at different points in our life, or even during different points of our day), do a check in and see if those words are coming from love and not fear. Want your own happiness first, and that will point you in the right direction while helping others (your spouse, your partner, your kids, your community) find their happiness, too. The old parable about teaching others to fish rather than getting the fish for them applies here. Become fishermen (and women) of your own lives. Cast your line into waters that are clean, clear and abundant.
This week, take a stand for your own well-being and consider writing the words, “I want to feel happy” or “I want happiness” (for me, my family, etc.) on a piece of paper and putting it somewhere so you’ll see it throughout the day. That’s all you need to do for now. The power of writing is that it clarifies and shapes—it gives focus to our lives. Such simple words can make all the difference.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. She also writes under the name Mia King. Learn more at dariengee.com and miaking.com.