A pattern I recognize in myself and other women is the tendency to make other people more important than ourselves. We go out of our way to help other people be more comfortable and live their best lives. We see a need and we fill it. We see a solution and we offer it. We exhaust ourselves taking care of everyone else at the expense of our own health and well-being. Then we find ourselves with chronic illnesses, including pelvic pain, myofascial pain, back pain, IC, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or adrenal fatigue, to name a few.
We Put Other People’s Needs Ahead of Our Own
As children we learned to look outward at what we could do for other people and to put other people’s emotional and physical needs ahead of our own. We learned that the greatest value we could give to society is to serve other people. We were discouraged from serving ourselves because that’s selfish. We learned that in order to get our own needs met we had to meet the needs of other people.
We are Expected to do it All
This may be especially true for women because as children we observed our mothers taking care of the needs of our families. When I was a young girl in the 1960s, the traditional role for women was still in the home taking care of the family’s needs. To make matters worse, since the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s, not only are women expected to take care of the needs of the family and home, but we are also expected to work full-time outside the home.
In my mid 30s I was working full-time at a university as an Academic Advisor helping students navigate the university system. I thought that being good at my job was anticipating what the students would need next and providing that information. I also had two young children, a husband, a home, and pets to take care of. I had chronic fatigue and pelvic pain. I was miserable.
I Gave Myself Away
I failed at being Super Mom. I couldn’t do it all. At work I became aware of where I was wasting my energy. I stopped second guessing what the students would need next. I observed that they couldn’t receive it until they recognized their need for it. The same holds true for our families and friends. I gave my time and energy away to people who could not receive it and then I didn’t have enough time and energy to take care of myself. I was doing way too much for other people which left me with not enough time to rest, play, connect with my true self, know my true desires, what makes me happy, and how my body and soul wants to experience life.
Now I ask if Help is Wanted Before I give it
Now I am much clearer about my role as a helper. I am clear on what I agree to and what I don’t agree to. I ask if help is wanted before I give it. I consult my body about what it has energy for and what it doesn’t have energy for. I’m no longer a slave to the to-do list. I take care of myself by keeping out of other people’s business unless I’m asked to help and then I consider whether I really want to or not. I let other people do it themselves. I stopped filling needs I recognized just because I have the skills to do it.
I Prioritize Myself Because Nobody Else Will
I know now that the greatest value I can give to myself and to society is to take care of myself first. I prioritize myself because nobody else will. I meet my own needs first so that I can bring my best self to the service of others. The proof that this approach is working is that I feel so much better now. I’m no longer drained, my pain has receded and I enjoy life much more.
Gail is an endorsed mind-body coach, certified Martha Beck life coach and trained psychic. Her path with chronic pelvic pain led Gail to mind-body healing which helped her get her life back and find her passion. Now she works with people in physical pain who have already tried all the normal solutions but are still struggling with pain. Gail helps them heal pain from the inside out and get back to living the life they want. www.gailkennylifecoach.com .