If you’re prioritising the needs of others over your own, then the answer is yes.
After my husband died following a long battle with chronic depression, I “woke up” and realised that I didn’t even know what I wanted for breakfast, let alone who I was or what made me happy. For so long all of my energy had gone into helping him heal, raising my four daughters, and trying to keep my family intact.
What I’ve learned since then is that we need to ask often: what do I feel? What do I think? What do I need?
Because self-reflection is the gateway to emotional happiness, fulfilment, and freedom.
When we stay silent or become tearful, self-critical or “hurt,” instead of becoming assertive, or dare I say angry, we avoid making clear statements about what we think and feel because we’re afraid it will make the people close to us uncomfortable or compromise these relationships in some way. So instead, we spend a lot of time “reading” others or the situations we find ourselves in.
When we work hard “not rock the boat,” energy is directed toward protecting our relationships at the cost of ourselves. If we prioritise the needs of others over ourselves for long enough, we lose clarity about our own thoughts, feelings, and desires.
Become an expert on yourself
It’s ironic that we put so much thought and energy on other people and things and forget to apply this concept to ourselves. Many mothers, for example, are experts on their children and partners but don’t know how they themselves feel. Many executives are experts of their industry and staff but don’t understand what motivates their own behaviours.
The price of becoming an expert of others instead of ourselves is high, affecting every aspect of our emotional, personal and professional lives. Instead, we need to become experts of ourselves, so we don’t relinquish our primary responsibility to our own growth and development.
But, how can I do this?
One way out of this trap is to ask yourself: “Is whatever happening right now okay with me?” Not my children nor anyone else, but to me. Is this something that’s in alignment with MY values, MY beliefs, MY intuitions, MY purpose here on the planet. And, if the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then you must find the courage to say so and withdraw your support, whether it be emotional, physical or financial.
Easier said than done, of course, especially if you’ve practiced becoming an expert on others at your own expense.
Here’s a great article on other ways to become more self-reflective and the benefits of doing so. You can also get in touch if you’d like some support.