Do you feel like you’re following the “perfect” diet, yet you still feel sick? You don’t have the energy and enthusiasm for life you expected to have at this time in your life. You feel you should have it all together, sitting back and enjoying the ride from all your fruitful years of working your butt off, raising kids, managing schedules, etc. After all, it’s supposed to be the time in your life for you to reap the rewards of all your hard work. You even have the wisdom and experience to know that eating organic, non-GMO foods are good for you, and make a conscious effort to do so. Still, you keep experiencing an underlying feeling of malaise. What is it? Well, it is one of the most misdiagnosed illnesses out there. There isn’t a doctor on this planet that’s going to tell you this. There is not a blood test that will show you what’s going on. The only way to address your symptoms head on is to ask yourself, “What am I doing that is making me feel this way?”
Wonder Woman Syndrome
For those of you in your mid-50’s to 60’s, sandwiched between the escalating needs of our aging parents, and kids that haven’t quite figured out their life; we’re stuck in an intergenerational squeeze. We feel we must take care of every problem that comes our way. We take on each family member’s issue with honor and claim it to be our responsibility.
Deep down we know if we say “No,” we’ll receive a visit from our friendly neighbor- “Guilt.” Guilt will take up valuable real estate in your head when you’re torn between taking time for yourself or giving away your time to others, even when you know you should do otherwise. We shove our emotions deep inside and hope that someday we can carve out the time to allow our joy to surface again.
We live our life like Wonder Woman, that almighty female super hero who can take on anything because she has the power and strength to do so. She keeps going, keeps fighting, keeps doing, keeps providing because that’s her job. How many of us live our lives this way?
Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. We will use our older children as an example. To become adults, our children need to learn, grow, stumble, make mistakes, and face their fears. However, if we are constantly doing, deciding and providing, we are not allowing them to know with conviction, their own truth. When we continually decide, provide and take care of their needs, while our intentions are good, they will never know their own strengths and weaknesses. If we go through life carrying them on our backs, we’re putting a tremendous burdon on ourselves. More importantly, how does that serve them in their world? How do they learn to get the courage to speak up to a boss when they feel deep down they may be wrong? There will be times in life that they will need to stand up and question authority. If they don’t have the skill set to do so, they will remain silent. That silence will follow them all through their lives, and they won’t have the confidence to take a stand for themselves because they won’t really know who they are, deep down.
Doing for others is not always good.
When we take on the world’s problems, we can’t address our own needs. When we ignore our feelings, we cause stress. This type of silent stress causes both emotional and physical pain. A doctor does not diagnose this type of stress. This stress is not a tangible stress like being in an unhappy relationship or job you dislike. You won’t identify it as stress because it has become your identity. You have surrendered to it. But know, when we withhold from ourselves, we are withholding from others as well. Wouldn’t you rather be an example of what we want our children to become? If we are not allowing our children to grow, we are not growing. The greatest gift you can give yourself is growth. Be the example you want for your children, and they will want to become that person. It certainly beats lecturing them. We all know how that turns out. Allow them to learn, grow, and stumble as much as possible. You will be their emotional support system, but allow them to live the experience of life.
You may be thinking, “How can I not help the people I love?” There will be times when it makes perfect sense to step in and help out, but when it becomes habitual, and your loved ones are relying on you, that’s when you know this enabling has to stop. You are not serving your loved ones by enabling them. On the contrary, you are disabling them by preventing them from learning the problem-solving skills they will need to maneuver through a complicated life. If you can make a paradigm shift in your beliefs to see the truth in this, you will think twice about giving up your valuable time to take care of their issues.
Intention Rules the Roost
You may be thinking that this will only create more stress and cause you more anxiety. Try to reverse that thought, and know that you are serving them in a major way by allowing them to practice their life skills, while still being there for moral support. Now you will have peace.
The first step is to understand that you need to unlearn your beliefs and behaviors that are prohibiting you from seeing the big picture. Our deepest beliefs and assumptions will determine if we stay present and open to shining a new light on a situation, or remain the same, and let our old habits control us. We take on their world. But, if that world is not serving your wellbeing, how does that work? How much longer do you continue on this path until you’re hit with a wake-up call in the form of a disease, depression or despair. What if you could learn to set a clear intention - I deserve more. More joy, more peace, more happiness, more time for myself. I know if you had a best friend who was distraught, and caught in a similar situation, you would advise them to let go and take care of themselves before they become sick. When we live this intentional way, we demonstrate to others by example how important it is to respect ourselves, and our self-care.
To understand our hidden beliefs and assumptions, we need to rewind those tapes of our lives to unravel when and why we acquired those beliefs in the first place. Those beliefs are coming from fear. If we fear rejection or disapproval, we feel unworthy to speak up when we know we should. This sends the message that it isn’t safe to disagree with others. Most likely, we learned this thinking from our parents, grandparents, and others in our early life environment. That’s why we don’t recognize our beliefs as a problem because they are all we know. However, when we find the courage to observe those limiting beliefs at arm’s length and change them according to our intentions, we will gain the courage to change, knowing it is in everyone’s best interest for us to do so. Trusting yourself this way takes practice.
Ask yourself, “How does it feel to slow down, step back, disengage, and prioritize self-care?” It may feel awkward at first as we are living in a culture that does not value self-care. This is why it is important to make a conscious shift in your core beliefs. You deserve to take care of yourself this way. When you do, others will follow, and your health, and your life will dramatically improve.