Serving Self to Serve Others

People pleasing is a theme that’s coming up and causing quite a stir this week.  People pleasing is the idea that one person has to bend to the Will of another in other to keep the other person happy, content, quiet, satiated, etc.  Most of the time this is an unspoken, unwritten rule in relationships.  In other words, person 1 isn’t saying “I need you to do this in order to make me happy.”  Instead, person 1 might use tactics like gaslighting or passive aggression, signaling to the other person that his/her own unhappiness is the fault of the other.

In all honesty though, whose responsibility is one person’s happiness?  Does happiness truly come from within?  Or is it the whim and responsibility of the greater world around to support and make happy an individual?

When humans grow up in dysfunctional home, school, and/or religious environments, they tend to develop dysfunctional patterns into adulthood.  One common dysfunctional pattern I frequently see is codependency.  Psychology Today describes codependency as “a dysfunctional relationship dynamic where one person assumes the role of the ‘giver’, sacrificing their own needs and well-being for the sake of the other, the ‘taker’.  The bond in question doesn’t have to be romantic; it can occur just as easily between parent and child, friends, and family members.”

The giver takes on the role of “pleaser” in order to appease the “taker”.  There are myriad reasons for which the giver might get looped into the role of pleaser.  A common one being religious programming.  Many religions teach self-sacrifice and martyrdom.  This concept ingrains the belief that in order for a person to “be good”, they must give of themselves endlessly.  Anyone who has been involved in a codependent relationship and knows it, will tell you, there is always a limit to how much one person gave give (without receiving) before they start feeling like a shell of a human, empty, alone, and depleted.

It’s important to recognize that we all need some give and take in equal measure.  When one is out of balance, we can feel it.  We start to feel fatigued, exhausted, burned out and feelings of anger, resentment, and finally bitterness can settle in.

We have to serve ourselves (fill our own cups) before we can be in service to others.  If my cup is empty, it becomes impossible for me to open my heart and help those around me.  In this case, I have nothing to give and that’s not serving me or anyone around me.  On the other hand, when I take care of myself, and feel good and build energy, it become natural to open my heart in service to others.

Here are some tips for self-care:

1.) Check in with your body daily by doing a body scan (starting from head and working downward, look for signs of tension, tightness, or unusual sensation).  If you notice something, attune to your body and ask what it needs.  (It might be as simple as sitting down for 10 minutes, getting a drink of water, eating a snack, or slowing down).

2.)  Evaluate the relationships in your life and make adjustments accordingly.  Humans feel best in a state of balance.  If a relationship in life is out of balance, contemplate or meditate on what can be adjusted to bring it into balance.  (Perhaps a conversation is needed, or a suggestion posed with kindness and compassion).

3.)  Give yourself permission to put yourself first.  Just like we are instructed on an airplane to administer our own masks before helping others in case of emergency; we can do this in life.  Meet your needs and then help those around you meet theirs.

4.)  Give yourself permission to say no and set boundaries.

5.)  Develop a self-care/self-love routine.  Do one thing each day that nourishes your body, mind, or spirit.  For me personally, this involves getting up before everyone else in my house (5am) and practicing kundalini yoga and meditation for at least an hour before sunrise.  This practice helps me to feel balanced and energized for the remainder of the day.  I also get to work an hour before I see anyone so I can cleanse the space and read ACIM or write in my journal.  I love it, because it’s quiet and still.  Throughout the day, I’ll do a body scan and if body needs something, I do what I can to make it happen.  When I get home in the evenings, I disconnect from my phone (turn it to “Do not disturb) and I am present with my family throughout dinner and bedtime routines.  I am in bed by 9pm so I can get a restful night’s sleep.

6.)  Fill up your cup and allow the overflow of abundance to radiate from your heart into the hearts of those around you.  This is how we change the world.  We change ourselves.  We fill ourselves with love, and we allow the love to radiate out, supporting, nurturing, and loving others, unconditionally.

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