Want To Make An Impact In the World? Start with Yourself
Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Several weeks ago, I was working with a client who struggles to eat meals on a consistent basis because of anxiety and a cramped schedule, but then binges late at night to make up for the lack of food and nourishment through the day. It was a destructive pattern that was contributing to her anxiety and energy in a major way, which then had detrimental effects at work and in her personal life.
After making some progress in our work, she was hit with a huge upheaval at work that compounded the effects of neglecting herself and focusing on the crisis in front of her. She is someone who gives and gives to others, both in her professional and personal life. She has a hard time prioritizing herself, but also knows that if she wants to keep giving, she can’t do so from an empty [body & soul] well.
For anyone in crisis, it can be really hard to keep the skill of self care at the forefront, no matter how practiced you are.
For someone who hasn’t built self care as a habit, it’s nearly impossible.
She asked, “Why is caring for myself so very difficult?" It was more of a rhetorical question, but the profundity of it struck me.
She acknowledged how challenging it was to show up at work and be effective when she wasn’t eating meals consistently (or at all) and yet, she didn’t know how to make eating a habit when she had pushed it away for so long.
When, in essence, she had pushed herself away for so long. It was as though she wasn’t even on the to do list.
Where in culture have we been taught, as women, that putting ourselves first, prioritizing feeling good and making time for what we need is of the utmost importance? Oh yeah, no where.
I remember hearing an interview with Oprah in which she spoke about this cultural self care deficit in women and she remarked that in the late 90’s she had a life coach on her show that suggested women should put their relationship with their husband over that of their children. Oprah recalled that the audience nearly hissed and boo-d her off the stage. The idea that your needs as an adult might be the fuel that can propel the rest of your life was a foreign concept 20 years ago.
And I would argue that 20 years later, we are still taught that prioritizing ourselves is at best, something women apologize for, or at worst, something like my client, that we simply haven’t learned the skill of doing.
The lack of prioritizing ourselves is evident at every turn. We seek the external validation rather than the internal satisfaction. In fact, in many cases, particularly in the diet and weight loss industry, we are encouraged to base our internal satisfaction on external validation. And that my friends, is a losing battle nearly every time.
When we base how we feel on other people’s behavior and response to us, we are at the mercy of their opinion rather than at choice about how we want to live and who we want to be.
And my guess is that, deep down inside, you want to live how you want to live and not be run by other people’s opinions. Most of us do. It’s why we were given desire, self-will and self-efficacy.
You have those characteristics inside you, too, even if you haven’t tapped into them for a very long time.
Much of the work I guide clients around is doing the radical act of throwing off the societal conditioning and tuning in to listen to the call of their body & soul.
And most women, when they do this, see just how much they’ve denied, judged and criticized themselves for not measuring up to this impossible standard of sacrifice and being a good girl like we’ve all been conditioned to believe we should be.
It’s time we redefine good and throw away the idea of self sacrifice. It’s time to truly nourish ourselves from the inside out.
The world is screaming in pain, and we all have the opportunity to do the radical act of stepping outside of that pain to fill ourselves up so that we can help others find their way out, too. This is the lesson we have the opportunity to teach children, to teach other women around us. Simply by being a living example, you will radiate out the wisdom and radical act of prioritizing yourself, because after all, you can give what you don’t have. The world needs a fully nourished you, now more than ever.
But don’t do it solely because the world needs you. You’d then still be denying the spark that yearns for your care and attention.
This might be the place where you're thinking "okay Amy, tell me what to do!"
But I know you're smarter than that. You don't need me to give you a 5 step list of how to do self care. We all know what we need to do- eat in a way that has us feel vibrant, acknowledge our feelings, move our bodies in ways that feel fun, sleep more and be kinder to our selves. The problem isn't that you don't know what to do, the problem is that you are stuck in a paradigm that says you shouldn't be doing it. So here's your permission slip that says you can, for once and for all, break free of that bullshit, and finally, just do it. Do what you know would make you come alive.
And if there are blocks in the way of living into those things, that's where my work can help you break out of those limiting behaviors and patterns.
Do it because you have something amazing inside of you that can’t be fully birthed or expressed when you are dieting, restricting or denying yourself the nourishment you truly need.
Do it because the not doing it feels like torture and makes you miserable and happiness, joy and satisfaction are our birthright as beings on the planet.
Do it so that what lives inside of you can see the light of day and you can feel fully alive and in your right place in the world.
In the words of Howard Thurman “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”