Might as well face it, I’m addicted to… putting myself last. Ugh! It’s true. I have an automatic response pattern that causes me to feel like I have to make sure everyone is taken care of before I can take care of myself. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel guilt when I tend to my own needs and wants. It doesn’t mean it stops me from doing what I want and need, it just means I’m aware of the saddle bag of guilt that I lug around when I go and do what I want to do. And I’m tired of it.
Things came to a head for me this past weekend. For my birthday my husband bought me some luxurious Manitobah Mukluks. You know the kind Prince William and Princess Kate were given for their son Prince George. I loved them instantly. They had the essence of me written all over them. And then…I said, “I think we should return them.” As soon as the words popped out of my mouth I regretted it. Why would I say that?!
Well, I started thinking that I should (that damn word) return them and spend more money on others for Christmas. It felt more natural to spoil others instead of myself. I know, I know…yuck! But I am just playing witness to this automatic response to take less for myself and leave more for others. And as I observed it and poked it, I started wondering where this response pattern originated. I wondered too if men have the same automatic response. When you boil it right down, I wondered if it was because I’m culturally programmed to be more comfortable giving than to receive as a woman. And yet biologically and traditionally it is women who are meant to receive and men who are meant to give. Isn’t that a pickle!
I’ve watched my husband receive some pretty spectacular presents and his response…gratitude. Not guilt, not an internal struggle to accept the gift of love but a simple acceptance and joy in receiving a beautiful gift. So, what’s the difference here? Is it a gender issue? Is it a mother thing? An image plays itself over and over in my mind of an exhausted, self-sacrificing woman who’s given everything to her family. She cooks, she cleans, she nurtures and she tends to their every need. She takes little to no time for herself or for her own pleasure. She’s usually too exhausted.
If she’s cooking breakfast and one of the egg’s flops, she takes the dud and serves her family the “good ones”. My question is why? Why is motherhood or womanhood equated with chronic selflessness? And better yet, why the heck is this celebrated? Shouldn’t we have boundaries and limits for ourselves? Shouldn’t we be on equal playing ground as our own family members? Aren’t we worthy enough for a good egg?
I struggle in the fact that we celebrate and appreciate a woman who has given down to the bone and left little or nothing for herself. Sometimes when I read obituaries and they tote about a woman’s selflessness, I feel a sharp pang in my gut. I don’t consider that a good thing. I don’t want to celebrate a way of being that I believe is self-harming and perpetuating a behaviour that basically speaks that she deserves less.
I think we must be both selfless and selfish as women. But selfish is a tough word to swallow. There’s some negativity associated with that word. And I don’t agree that having boundaries, limits, needs, wants and a voice is selfish. It is simply a human right. When I was exploring synonyms for the word selfish, I found the term self-interested. Say it with me…self-interested. Don’t you love it?
So, I’m proposing that in order for the guilt bag to empty itself out, we must adopt a new mantra as women. We must be both selfless and self-interested. And we must regularly be self-interested as though it were a life line to our sense of worth and self-esteem. The reality is that when we tend to our own interests and desires, we feel more fulfilled and more confident and when we feel more confident we feel more able to use our voices and ask for what we need. We are more able to set limits for what we can’t tend to when we feel fulfilled so we do not need to get a dash of “value” in the role of supreme giver.
And guess what, you can teach your daughter to love herself simply by setting your own limits, and being the receiver of your own energy. In taking that time for you or taking the good egg or accepting a pair of beautiful mukluks, you are saying to the world I believe I am worthy of love and greatness equally to everyone else. We teach them how to love themselves by loving ourselves. We have an inherent right to be self-interested. It is a necessity not only for ourselves but for the self-esteem of our young sisters, daughters and nieces. We are their role models.
Being self-interested is a sacred spiral of fire, it ignites healing that starts within us and floats out into our family circle and then out into our communities and eventually the entire globe. As the inner fires spread we build a repertoire for our young women who will also assert their needs, wants and voices into the world and they will have learned it simply by osmosis. Imagine a world where women feel just as worthy to receive as any other being on the planet…a world where women feel confident enough to stand up for themselves and use their glorious voices no matter what the circumstance. It’s starting…and the world is beginning to change and operate in a new manner because of it. Changes, they are happenin’ and the bar is being raised. We are not only waking up, we are standing up. Can you feel it?
Imagine that, you are helping to change the world simply by being self-interested. So, allow yourself to receive…receive help, receive love, receive gifts, receive time off and take it all in unapologetically. Allow your own best interests to come to the forefront at least half the time. Allow yourself to remember that as you receive, self-indulge and become more self-interested you are helping change the planet. You are helping women restore balance simply by receiving energy, it is your birth right. It is your biology. And the more you receive, the more you’ll give so it’s a win- win and we all like win-win.
We are awakening as a women’s tribe and returning home into our feminine, fiery and receptive roots. So go on, I dare ya’! Indulge yourself with what you want. Put on your “mukluks” and indulge proudly as a woman who is equally selfless and self-interested, giver and receiver. You deserve it. I deserve it. The world needs it. We are creating a new phenomenon for women. My new mukluks are like a statement to the world saying that I am worthy of a wonderful, beautiful life. So own it, be self-interested and change this planet.
You go girl!
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