Chasing the illusion
In many ways I have struggled in my life with making decisions. I have always been a bit of a perfectionist. I guess I am very much a ‘put someone before yourself‘ kind of person. I have spent so much time and energy and many, many hours of stress trying to please everyone, keep the peace, and avoid conflict. If I ever accidentally offend someone I feel sick to the stomach. The fact is though, that no matter how much I have tried to avoid conflict, or please everyone, I fail, because that is life! I will tell you something that you most likely already know, you can never please everyone all of the time!
Now that might sound completely obvious to most of you, but to other perfectionists out there I know that you get what I am saying. We know we can never be perfect and yet we chase the illusion that we can somehow live the perfect life, where we can perfectly please everyone, and everyone will be happy. I want to make everyone happy, but I can’t. In many ways I have learnt that the hard way. I have burnt myself out, cried a river or two, and gotten so anxious that I made myself sick. Not that I am an emotional oversensitive kind of person or anything. (OK yes that was sarcasm, I am totally oversensitive!)
There are somethings that don’t bother me, I don’t have to be perfect at everything, but trying to make everyone happy was something that was high on my agenda. Two years ago I found myself completely burnt out. I was lacking energy, I felt not only did I have nothing to give friends, but also I had barely anything left to give the kids, and I was completely out of anything to give to myself. I went through the motions each day, made sure I still did everything I needed to do for my children, I smiled and laughed with them even though under the surface I was struggling.
It’s funny when you spend your life trying to please everyone and make your decisions based on what others need, or more to the point what ‘you perceive they need‘, that you are then the one that ends up miserable. Making decisions based on what you think will make others happy, or will make others think good things about you just leaves you depleted.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with thinking of others, and we need to consider how our big choices and life changes may affect others around us, especially in regards to being a parent or in a committed relationship with someone. But we also have to consider our own wants and our own needs. The word ‘selfish’ is thrown around like it’s a dirty word, but it is not! We need to please ourselves, we need to take care of ourselves, if we don’t then we are hurting who we are, and we are unable to give others the best gift we can give them, and that is a healthy and authentic us! Our friends, family, children, and partners deserve the very best of us, and that is not the PERFECT us, it is the true us, the authentic us! The us that looks after ourselves, the us that is happy and comfortable in our own skin!
Today is Friday Reflections and one of the prompts is “Tell us about a difficult decision you have had to make.” The most difficult decision I had to make was to start caring for myself and loving myself!
I thought if I loved myself I was somehow rude, or stuck up. I thought caring for myself was self centred and inconsiderate. I was wrong!
It was a real struggle for me to start putting myself first, to start caring for myself, and nurturing my soul. I have been working on this for 2 years now and I still have days where I put myself down, days where I slip and fall, days where I say things to myself that I would never say to my daughter or a friend. But the difference now is I can stop myself, I can recognise when I am falling and I know that I am worth picking up and caring for.
I had a situation this week that got me really down. It has been an ongoing issue that has stressed me and I had been trying hard not to let it. But this week (with a lot of other stuff going on as well that has me stressed) the thing that happened this week was like the metaphorical ‘straw that broke the camels back’. I felt myself take steps back towards the girl who just wanted to crawl back into her shell and avoid the world. I had to make a decision that meant someone was not going to be happy, and as you know this is what I struggle with. Deep down I still want to please everyone, and I knew this week that I couldn’t.
But instead of crawling into my shell I got some rest, had a cuppa, hugged my hubby, talked it over, made a decision and made some phone calls. And do you know what, it was OK and I am OK! The decision to look after myself was never one that came naturally to me, but I am learning. I also know that I am a role model for 3 little humans and seeing their mother look after herself as well as them is important. They need to understand that I matter and that I respect myself. It helps them to respect me and also to grow up knowing they deserve respect and they deserve to look after themselves.
Since making that decision to look after my needs I have actually noticed that it has made not only me happier, but it has given me more energy to give to others. I have also noticed how it has influenced those around me to take better care of themselves too which is so great to witness.
For some of us it comes naturally, some people are great decision makers and are confident and that is wonderful! For others (like me) it takes a journey to get there. If you are not there yet it doesn’t mean you can’t get there. We are all capable of self love, and of learning to be more confident decision makers.
The first step is believing in yourself and believing you deserve to be happy! Like I said I am still working on it after 2 years. When you spend your life living a certain way it takes motivation to change, and you will slip, we all do, yes even the great and famous have moments of failure, rejection and self doubt. But pick yourself up and keep moving forward, one backwards step is nothing when you are at least taking two steps forward.
Thanks for joining me, love Mackenzie xx
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