How far are you willing to go to be authentic? At what point do you decide to compromise yourself and accommodate others? How much compromise/accommodation is really necessary in our relationships, our work, our lives?
My answer today, in this moment, is hopefully very little. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t do the self-betrayal thing any more. My body just won’t move in that direction. The resistance that comes up feels like I’d have to move a mountain of bricks to do something I really don’t want to do. My whole being shuts down energetically if it even gets a whiff of sacrifice in the air.
Does this mean I am selfish or that I don’t like doing things for others? Of course not. But when it comes to giving, I’d rather step into the stream of effortless flow where the giving bubbles to the surface naturally and just moves me in that direction. My heart expands with joy when I give from that place. Besides no one wants to receive something from someone who doesn’t have it to give or who tangles the giving in a web of expectations and resentment.
No thanks. Don’t bother.
We all need to feed and nourish ourselves. Take time out and recharge and restore ourselves. When we are fed and nourished, the desire to give comes more readily. So many of us live on a self-starvation diet, depleting our stores of energy in exchange for money or some other commodity, that we’ve forgotten what really listening to our own needs even feels like.
It doesn’t have to be like that, even down to the simplest level. If you hate getting up early in the morning and that is truly authentic for you, find a way to structure your life to support that. If being alone helps you to feel grounded and centered again, make sure you have enough solitude in your schedule. If it’s authentic for you to be in nature on a regular basis, then make life choices around that.
Too much compromise and sacrifice makes us cranky. Long periods of habitual self-betrayal can wear deep grooves in our psyches, leaving us depressed or angry or full of anxiety. Allowed to go on long enough and you’re creating fertile ground for a major illness, a meltdown or both.
Not a pretty picture. And certainly not worth it.
So what to do? Stop it! Right now. Just stop.
Take a breath and step back from your life and assess the damage. In what areas of your life are you betraying yourself? In what areas do you deny your needs in favor of another’s? In what areas of your life is it more important to be liked and approved of than it is to follow your own way? How much of yourself do you sacrifice (negotiate) in order to get something you want or hang onto something you have?
On the flip side, how much do you expect others to sacrifice or compromise on your behalf?
Can we all just put an end to this unnecessary martyrdom and suffering?
I think we can, without too much fall out. Most radical change requires going to the opposite extreme. You may have to start by simply practicing the fine art of saying no. To everyone. Or at least to as many people as you can get away with for as long as it takes to break the habit of saying yes when you’d rather not.
Another thing that helps is to start paying attention to your body and your energy levels. If something drains the shit out of you, by all means, don’t do it. If it energizes and excites you, obviously, say yes.
Sounds so simple, but most of us have developed a pretty strong override button that effectively silences our needs in one fell swoop, essentially taking us out of any equation that comes up. Because our needs are cut off, we aren’t factored in. Instead, we simply move into and through our lives on automatic pilot reacting to things and putting out fires, without regard to the inner yearnings of our souls.
People aren’t mind readers. You have to know what you want and ask for it. You have to stake your claim or you will get walked on or at least left out. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the juicy, fun part of life happens when we engage with it full out with our entire being.
So stop censoring yourself. Stop holding back. Stop second guessing yourself. And for God’s sake, stop worrying about what other people think.
Create the space for the real you to emerge. Then, and only then, will you be free to give.
This post was first published on my blog, Blessed Madness, which was online from 2006 - 2009.