I sometimes see clients who are stuck in their lives due to fear of the unknown. The knowns are often making them either emotionally, physically, or spiritually unhealthy (usually it is all 3 to some extent), however the idea of making a change stops them in their tracks. Many cannot get past the point of pondering the change, it is all just too overwhelming. And so, they stay stuck.
In graduate school I learned about this philosophy called EXISTENTIALISM (yes I was late to the party, I was a business major, no philosophy classes required) and it really resonated for me. Here is a precept of existential thinking: “The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them”. I found this powerful and freeing stuff. So who I choose to be in the world defines me, not what others choose to define me as through my role in relationship to them, at least that is how I took it.
If you look deeper into this philosophy what you begin to understand is that it is our duty to get in contact with our own consciousness, create our own personal set of values and determine a meaning for our lives. I cannot state more emphatically that if you do not do this you will become emotionally, physically, and spiritually unwell, it is just a matter of when.
I believe that most people reading this are internally agreeing. But in my experience our culture has not socialized us, women in particular, to embrace our beings, determine our true essence, and live a life of purpose and meaning unless this purpose happens to be centered on caring for others. There is nothing wrong with being a caregiver, I earn my living caring for others. But the care of others must be balanced with the care of self. Many get far off track giving away too much of their energy and their power to others and I believe this is because they have the essential formula wrong. They allow themselves to be defined by who they are in relationship to others (you are my _____ therefore I am expected to do ______ for you) instead of a self-created definition (I freely choose to do whatever I wish for others as long as I do so free of all resentment and expectations of appreciation or returned giving, I give only because it is what I feel purely “called” to do).
I was one of the people who showed up in a therapist office almost 20 years ago because I had the formula wrong. I was doing what society told me should fulfill me: wife, mother, friend, marathon runner, cool job where I kept receiving more responsibility and positive feedback, volunteer at my kids school, heck I even facilitated workshops at the church called “the ministry of mothers sharing”. From the outside it looked like I had it all together. Inside I grew more and more empty. This “ministry of mothers sharing” talked about this thing called “self-care”.
I taught it, even believed in it, just didn’t have any time for it. You see I was BUSY, I was doing important things, people depended on me!
My busy life led me right into my first depression in the mid 90′s. I was a slow learner. I would try with the self-care then go right back to my “roles” and busy life. I thought back then I was doing what others expected of me and everything would fall apart if I changed. I finally did change. My earlier blogs describe the ripple effect that proceeded. What I know with absolute certainty now is that I would do it all again. My life is not perfect. My life is consistently fulfilling and purposeful and consistency is what I am going for. And I feel amazed that I can say that knowing that I am at this moment traveling solo on my journey and I never imagined feeling so grounded in this state. I love the opportunity to freely choose from one day to the next how I will use my time which feels so very precious to me as I get older.
If you are interested in learning more about self-care I have some spots left in my self-care workshop that will be held bi-weekly beginning January 12 and go through October (may take July off). Don’t be freaked out by the length of the workshop, I strongly believe that in order for self-care to take a foothold in your life we will need time, practice, multiple philosophies and approaches (guest speakers and hands on activities). If your are interested in participating please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 407.355.7378 and we will get you a registration form. I will be traveling from 12/4 to 1/3 so I plan to get the groups organized before I leave. There will be 2 Monday groups, daytime group will be 11:30 to 1, evening group will be 7-8:30. I can only take 10 people per group, this will be a life coaching and not a counseling format so if you know me in my personal life it is ok to attend :). Cost will be $30 per session and if you have Cigna EAP you will be covered completely, there will be no out of pocket cost. If Monday does not work for you still email I may consider adding an additional day at a separate location.
If you are seeking your “true essence” or having a hard time finding time for you, talking to a therapist is a wonderful introductory gift to give yourself and could be the launch pad to the you that you have always known you could be. Visit Life Skills Resource Group Orlando to get started and give us a call at at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation. Our Orlando Mental Health Counselors and Orlando Life Coaches would be happy to help you, your kid(s) or your relationship get on the right track.
I so appreciate your comments. Thank you for taking the time to share your reflections.
Peace, Namaste’, Sat Nam,