At one stage or another in life we get caught up in other people’s lives and their stories, hence getting distracted or off track with our own mission. This is completely normal and even inevitable, however it’s not exactly beneficial for our own mental health. The key is to acknowledge it, appreciate the lesson and move on – shifting the focus back onto OUR SELF. Sometimes when we put our thoughts, love and energy into other people it takes the thought, love and energy away from us. Depending on how we are giving away these elements of ourselves, it is usually giving our power away and this is what is not healthy. It will eventually make you feel dis-empowered, lost and drained because you’re so focused on giving to others rather than honouring yourself. The lesson is simple: The more energy we have for ourselves the more we can give to other people. The more we nurture ourselves, the more we can nurture others. The more we love ourselves, the more love we have for others. And it requires a balance in maintaining our own energy levels by putting ourselves first, before we go saving the world. Or if you do want to help others or put your energy into someone else, make sure you keep your glass half full – replenishing your inner resources and keeping a barrier up so no energy vampires can suck you dry!
Lately I have been feeling rather depleted. I have been giving my energy away, forgetting to fill up my cup, and have also experienced tremendous transition in my life; change in my living arrangements, my work situation and also relationship-wise. A triple wammy so to speak! God/The Universe certainly has a twisted sense of humour at the moment (cheers big man in the clouds *high five*). Sometimes we are given a lot on our plate, but I do believe it’s always enough that we can handle and if it doesn’t kill us it makes us stronger. It all comes down to the way in which we perceive it and the way in which we handle it.
So with the onset of all this change I started observing how I was reacting and my standard coping mechanisms. Being a yoga teacher, the social expectation is that I am an enlightened being who is totally blissed out all the time, with nothing phasing me and no naughty addictions or habits – I just meditate all day and keep calm and yoga on! Don’t get me wrong, I walk the walk and talk the talk, however I also slip up sometimes (ye sinful human!). With all of the uncertainty arriving on my door step, along came anxiety and worry. To deal with that anxiety, along came using alcohol as a crutch. And with that along came confusion and a sense of clashing belief systems, which then subsided to me relying on others for validation. Bad, bad, bad! Not necessarily wrong as we all handle things differently, just bad…because I was not putting myself number 1. It only took me a few days to realise my disastrous pattern of behaviour and to change it quick smart. The biggest thing is realising or observing the negative pattern, as most people just get on with their usual unhealthy coping mechanisms with no realisation or intention to change it. So this is certainly the first step. Realisation.
The second step is to ask yourself: Is this serving me? Is this nourishing me? This being a person, place, thing, home, partner, boss, job, situation, food, drink, drug…. Vanessa Florence mentions in her article Needs vs Addictions ‘Healthy needs always lead to wellness. Addictions…don’t.‘ Full stop, end of story. I realised that having one too many glasses of wine at night was not serving me, especially the next day, and it was just a temporary band aid giving me a sense of relief but then filling me with emptiness. So what did I do? I changed it. I put myself first. I had a few friends doing Hello Sunday Morning (quitting drinking for 3, 6 or 12 months) and it seemed ridiculously impossible initially, but then I took the plunge and committed to 3 months. The purpose behind doing HSM is about creating change in your life and also creating a better drinking culture in Australia (binge drinking is not just common, it’s widely accepted). I wanted to become my empowered, powerful feminine self again and take control of my life and the best way of doing that is making a change and taking control of what you put into your body. Besides, feeling good physically makes you feel better mentally. Win, win.
The third point to note in putting yourself first is to not rely on external factors to make you happy. When our happiness levels decrease dramatically, we panic and reach for a short-term distraction, yet when we are happier it is much easier to resist those temptations. Influences such as people, substances, events or anything materialistic is all temporary and might give you a brief rush, but it’s not sustainable long term. True happiness comes from within, and this happiness is within your reach and power – it’s a mental state. Yes, you can choose to be happy! It’s all about perception and it’s no one elses responsibility but your own. It’s important to have something to look forward to; something of your own, like creating your own goals to aim towards, making a plan for your business or a holiday or your next 10 years plan or even just finding the small things in life that bring you joy – a morning walk, doing some meditation, writing, being artistic, dancing, skating, gardening, cooking, whatever it is that makes you happy.
The reality is everyone is looking out for them selves and their own back. Everyone cares about them self and so they damn should! Self nurturing (as opposed to selfishness) is not a bad thing, it should be embraced.So if you find yourself caring what other people think, not enjoying your own company or putting other people needs above your own – have a reality check and remember YOU are NUMBER ONE in your life – no one else!
Do you consciously act in your own best interests? Who are you putting first in your life at the moment?
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