The Golden Rule, Reversed : Treat Yourself the Way You Treat Others
It happened again. I left the house without eating.
My hangry side has yet to take over, but why do I ignore the giant scream in my stomach that says "IF YOU DON"T FEED ME, I WILL EAT YOU?”
This doesn't just happen with hunger, but it has happened with many other needs like crying, sleeping, etc. There were many times in the past where I knew I needed to cry and I instead shoved the tears in because I was around other people and I didn’t want them to worry. There were times where I needed to skip the late-night-mid-week-afterthething-hang and go to bed, and I instead stayed out because I wanted to spend time with people.
This shoving feelings and ignoring needs habit has led to the bottling and subsequent bursting of emotions. It‘s not pretty—inappropriate bursts of tears in the car because I’m finally alone and a song came on that hit the spot, or falling asleep on the metro bus (without missing my stop, thank goodness) because I ignored my need for sleep. Our bodies and brains will find a way to release eventually.
I've become an active participant and observer of this lifestyle. I have witnessed many people, particularly women and mothers, who tend to put others before themselves so frequently that it becomes a lifestyle.
I have come to some questions, some conclusions and some reflective solutions.
1. Why do I ignore my needs?
2. Is it selfish of me to ___________ (fill in the need)?
3. How can I reverse the golden rule?
4. How can I better take care of myself?
I believe ignoring my needs involves choices I make from several facets. The first is that I often ignore my needs when my mind is focused on the external more than the internal- I am off balance. If I have a project, a tight schedule, or am in charge of caring for others, I place that priority first. This is actually impractical.
As my wise sister stated- "they tell you on an airplane to put the mask on yourself first and your child second". Ok, moms, raise your hand if that is actually what you would do? I would struggle considerably to respond this way and I have no children my own. If I did put the mask on myself first, I might be tempted to think I was selfish. Is it though? Can I practically take care of a child if I have no oxygen? The answer is no.
In the long run, meeting my needs can also lead to meeting the needs of others. I try to treat others the way I want to be treated, but do I treat myself the way I would treat others? How can I reverse the Golden Rule?
I’m not saying this process is for everyone. We are all comprised of different attributes, patterns and habits. For some people, this isn’t an issue to consider. But in many women, and particularly mothers, I have noticed this pattern prosper due to years of selfless love and needing to meet the needs of others immediately.
Perhaps this plays out through a mom who forgets to eat lunch or breakfast frequently because she is tending to her children and her household before tending to herself, or a person so focused on getting work done to meet the needs of a client that he/she forgets to drink water, eat lunch or even go to the bathroom. As a teacher, I frequently had to ignore my needs in order to keep the classroom running. All of these situations train the brain on how to react and prioritize.
I‘ve made it a goal to tend to my needs a little better, starting with breakfast and drinking water. I want to spend a bit more time in the present in the morning to prepare for the day by planning out how I’m going to meet each of those needs.
If you are tracking with me here and this is something you also struggle with, I’d love to hear from you. What is a goal you’ll set for taking care of yourself and how will you hold yourself accountable?