Let’s say you feel frustrated and unhappy and can’t really put your finger on the “why” of it. Let’s also say that you’re someone who’s always putting the needs of other people ahead of your own, but you wouldn’t call it that. You’d call it “doing what I’m supposed to be doing” or “what I have to do right now”. Or “love”.
But there’s that niggling frustration, every single day. The sense that there’s something you’re not doing that you could be doing. Something that would be delightful and fun. Nourishing even. You just can’t see a way to do that AND do the thing you’re supposed to be doing.
So, let me ask you this:
If you went on a picnic with three of the dearest people in your life, and you opened the picnic basket and there were only three sandwiches, what would you do?
Would you say, “Oh, it’s okay. I love you so much and want you to be fed and happy, so eat the sandwiches. I’ll just sit here and pass you the mustard and a napkin and anything else you need.”
Would you squish down your own hunger so the hunger of others could be satisfied?
(Plenty of us do this every single day. We do it because we have heard that parenting, partnering, working, or serving needs to look a very specific way. We let that strict definition shape a box that’s increasingly smaller and harder to live in.)
(And sometimes we live inside the teeny tiny box because we’re not sure who we would be outside of it. We’re not sure if we’re exactly comfortable with how big we might become if we were to step outside.)
(And, then again, we worry that the person who’s not having a whole sandwich because of our needs might be mad or resentful. That’s awkward, uncomfortable and possibly fatal to the relationship.)
(And we are doing this in the first place because relationships with others are so important. More important, in fact, than our relationship with ourselves.)
(And we might have learned that love looks like doing stuff for other people all the time, regardless of the impact on ourselves.)
Back to the picnic scenario. You’re hungry and there aren’t enough sandwiches. Your gut says to let other people have what is there because it’s appropriate, it’s right, it’s safe. But you’re starving, aren’t you?
Might you consider a simple solution of dividing each sandwich into four equal parts so that everyone could have some? So everyone could be nourished? Including you?
It’s time to ease your frustration and own your right to your own well-being, my friends. And while asking for your portion might be scary, the odds are it will turn out beautifully. Because I know for a fact that the three people you love most in the world want nothing more than to share their sandwich with you.
Because they love you just as much as you love them.
[This piece appeared first on my Facebook page. Are we connected there?]