Yesterday, I talked to a fellow mom who felt –as many of us do– that she was losing herself in the midst of being so much for the people around her. As I nodded emphatically, (because man, have I been there) I noticed that I don’t actually feel that way anymore. When did that happen?
Is it that my kids are all out of diapers and tantrums are now to a dull, calmer, roar instead of constant three-year old hysteria? Is it that I was a very young mom and have just gotten older? Is it having things on the side–away from my kids or making more “Me Time?” Surprisingly, I don’t think so. I took a lot of hot showers and girls night to fix that void and it was still there despite having the me time. What happened was a lot of drama all at once physical, emotional and financial and I was left with only hope and humility.
When it comes down to it, life forced me to stop pushing back at everything. Not everything is a battle anymore. When I stopped trying to prove myself, and make my voice heard, and be everything I thought I wanted me to be and the world wanted me to be, I started to find myself. It makes sense to me. I see people that battle through their days at work or school the same as moms–regardless of lack of days off or insane hours.
Think about it. We gear up for everything. We research it, we debate it, we obsess until we just can’t live up to our expectations. We want to be as good at who we are as who we think we should be and half the time, we know we’ll never reach it–or at least not exactly the way we want to. Somewhere in there, all of us wonder who we are and how we forgot that or lost it.
I realized what I had to do that might actually help other people. Hopefully this helps others act willingly and they don’t have to go through as much before being forced to change their thinking/actions. I’m sharing this, not to give the absurd assumption that I am above anyone else, but this helped me and I hope it will help you too.
Here’s the closest thing to a process to my attitude adjustment I can organize and they are all easier said than done. Let’s hope your house, finances, husband and extended family don’t fall apart or almost die for you to start these:
1. Start by complimenting people around you for the things they do right. Even if they screw up in the midst of making one thing right, genuinely acknowledge the one thing. It makes a difference in you when you stop treating other people the way you treat yourself (just looking for places to improve). Search for those little nuggets of sunshine. Eventually, you do the same for yourself.
Pick your battles. –No, just leave the battlefield. This is probably the most important with yourself and other people and situations. If you wouldn’t care about it if everything you love were gone tomorrow, let it be. Stop making excuses for yourself and others. Hear what others are saying and if you can’t change how they feel about you or whatever the issue is–accept it. Listen to them, let them push, but stop pushing back. Even if you are right and you feel wronged. It only wears you out and gives you reason to doubt yourself. People only change if they want to. Nothing you say is going to change that. If they’ve hurt you, they already know it.
When you stop pushing back, it doesn’t make you a victim. This was hard for me to grasp but I eventually realized that people can’t fight acceptance. You only have to assert yourself once plainly and after that, accept that people are difficult and may not want to see your side or understand how you feel. They may still want or try to hurt you, but pushing back only makes you hurt more when they don’t care. We care too much about closure and validation and too little about peace and happiness.
3. What ever you do–be it at home or out in the world, love it. Some times it is so tempting to resent the busywork, the chaos, and everyone’s expectation that you fix it all or the insistence that you are responsible for it. See the beauty in your kids, marriage, job, etc. See the good parts of you in them as well as the difficult. Find something to enjoy about your job and the people in it. If it were gone tomorrow, you’d miss it on some level. Find that level and try to understand it and love it.
4. Take care of your body. Eat right and exercise. Don’t wait for a heart attack to fix that. You will feel the benefits almost immediately and see it soon after.
5. Pick up a book. You do have time.
6. Schedule days to do nothing. Make those plans solid. Sit on your butt and relax with people that matter once in a while. Not every day needs to be post worthy and action packed.
7. Find issues that you feel strongly about and force yourself to see and study different sides of them. It has so many benefits and you’ll be a smarter and better person for it.
8. Stop worrying about losing yourself. You find yourself when you aren’t so concerned about it.