Self Preservation Isn't Being Selfish
One of the biggest struggles of my life has been finding the balance between being there for others and being there for myself. Every time I fly with my daughter when the flight attendant gives the whole "put your mask on first" speech, I just think about how I would never do that, but then if I can't breathe how can I help my daughter? My ultimate desire in life is to teach my daughter how to create balance in her life before she starts puberty. Understanding that taking care of herself is not about being selfish, but about self preservation.
I use to think that giving endlessly of myself showed how selfless I was. In reality it's just a way to not be accountable for my own happiness. I wanted to believe for so long that people affected me and my happiness. I spent so much time being devastated and heart broken by others actions. I think there is a sense of security we experience in allowing others to manipulate us. It's like a sick desire to believe we are truly at the the hands of others. In reality, we are saying that we don't want to take responsibility for ourselves because we then have to be accountable for every interaction, decision and choice we make.
Once I accepted responsibility for my own happiness, I began changing internally and spiritually. I started realizing behaviors I displayed and practiced daily that were contributing to my unhappiness. I also started recognizing the people I surrounded myself with and behaviors they had that I knew were not going to grow with me. The hardest part is understanding that you have to change all of these dynamics in order to change your life completely.
If you have a goal in life, but you are continuously living out the goals of others, then you will never reach your own accomplishments. I have friends who spend their money differently than me and that can often make you feel alone. If everyone is going out to eat and you are trying to save your money, it becomes difficult to socialize. I had to come to a reality that I have a financial goal I am trying to reach with my spouse. We are making sure we set up a debt free life for our children to inherit. The reality is that you have to become comfortable with what's best for you in life. What are your goals and dreams? What's going to keep you the most happy in the long run? We have to learn how to preserve ourselves while living amongst others. If you aren't comfortable saying "No," then you aren't comfortable truly being happy. If I spend all my money trying to keep up with my friends, I will be the one unhappy not them. I can't do everything everyone else is doing because I have a different life plan, finances and goals.
Whether it's money, emotions, time, jobs etc, we have to learn how to preserve our own happiness. We cannot live our lives for others. As a mother if I am unhappy, ultimately my family isn't happy. I can't always say, :Yes." I can't overextend myself in friendships to the point that I have nothing to give myself. True love and friendships are not about us giving all of ourselves in order to prove our love and devotion. It's about becoming your best self so that others around you can do the same. It's about creating boundaries and living a life that reflects who you truly are. It's about understanding that you should never take what you do not plan on giving back as well as never giving that of which you need for yourself.
It took me such a long time to realize that I do not have to answer every single call and be everything to everyone because that only leaves me dry. I will continue to give and love and be there for those who need me. I will also say "No," create boundaries, and no longer give so much of myself that I have nothing left. If you are feeling like you aren't getting as much from others as you are giving to them, take a step back and give a little more to yourself because your happiness is what fuels you to make others happy. There is no reward for self sacrifice that would make your happiness worth the burden of endless giving. When I speak of giving I am speaking of emotional and physical presence in others lives. You can't say you never accomplished your dreams because you were busy supporting others with their dreams. That will never make you feel whole and that will never make you feel happy. We have to create a balance in all things we do.
My first priority is myself; and making sure I am happy and healthy so I am able to take care of my children and husband. Sometimes that means not answering the phone when friends call so that I can focus on my daughter. Sometimes that means not going out with friends so that I can spend time with my husband. Sometimes it means going places with my friends without my husband and daughter so that I can maintain a sense of self. Creating balance isn't easy, but we don't have to be all of one thing in order to be a good friend, parent, spouse or person. Find a balance and nurture all sides of you.
You only have one life to live and you need to make sure you put your mask on first.