My journey into self love has been life changing.
It began with being made to realize that I was bestowing the kind of love, care, attention and financial benevolence I’ve always craved, on people I love, as an attempt in satisfying my own need for affection. That’s what I learnt growing up, to go out of your way to help people who have not had your advantages in life. “Be generous with your time and energy.”
I might be famished by the time I get to the tenth person and still be wondering why I keep getting hungrier. Which then begs the question as to how can I ever hope to have a full stomach if every time I am hungry, I feed a loved one? The answer is likely rooted in my belief that, “love begets love”; and apparently that belief has not served me well because while I am famished I feel a sense of fulfilment because feeding others has been somewhat therapeutic, and this state of starvation while simultaneously feeling satiated is not sustainable.
I received this feedback when I shared my thoughts, and that finally got me unstuck —
You are just desperate for company, love and for your loneliness to go away so you give a lot of what you need because that’s your perspective, and you give it because you think that’s what everyone needs too
But you don’t get it back
Because the truth is that’s not what everyone needs
Wow, time to reevaluate my beliefs and the saying, “Do unto others…”. What am I doing unto myself? Everything in excess is poison, even giving of myself to the point that my emotional investment breaks my bank when I feel unreciprocated. In that regard, I decided to do —
- only that which makes me feel good about myself
Reducing how much I invest in people, especially in those that don’t bring value to my life, or worse still, make me feel less than satisfied with myself.
- in only as much measure as I can emotionally afford
Not over-stretching myself in time, effort and money as these are all means of getting emotionally invested. Once the investment is less, it’s easier to adopt the “send and forget” strategy I use for e-mail (viz. deleting the message from my sent mail so I forget having sent it before it gets filed in long-term memory), and delete all memory of having made the investment. That way you’re not expecting dividends as in you’re not awaiting reciprocity you might never get, and can move on with your life, and it’s easier because the investment was from your emotional petty cash.
- unto myself as I would do unto others
Which is, to protect, nurture and pay heed to the needs of my inner child like a loving, caring, affectionate and doting parent.
Which then begs the question, is that the right thing to do? My go to is this blog post from which I have derived that right and wrong are societal constructs whose definitions are constantly changing, so I am not afraid or embarrassed to follow my internal compass. When I brought this up, I was asked with good reason, “But isn’t embarrassment a reflection of social constructs, rather than good or bad?” Fortunately I am privileged enough to not have that to worry about, as I answer to no one but myself.
So armed with recent beliefs that —
- doing what pleases me seems to be the only “right” thing to do, if my other beliefs are true that
- the purpose of life is to be happy, considering
- life is random and
- the only consequences in life are those that we wittingly or unwittingly bring upon ourselves through our exercise of our power of choice,
I have decided to not be collateral damage in another person’s story.
You may be justified in feeling hard done by, especially if you have done things for others that don’t seem appreciated, but don’t waste time brooding about it. You are captain of your ship of fate, so it’s your responsibility if you’ve been sailing off course.