Last week I got a letter from a woman telling me about an experience she went through a couple of years ago that highlighted to her a pattern she’s been in of abandoning herself to please others. Even though she’s come far from where she was at, the memory of it, as well as the fear of continuing to do it, was really upsetting her.
Learning to honor myself, speak my truth, and put my self-love into action – regardless of whether other’s “like” it or not – has been a big theme in my life. And not always an easy one. Especially when I say yes (or say nothing) when I really mean no. Or when I’ve gone along with circumstances I knew weren’t right for me. Or when I have a strong knowing that I over-ride for fear of what reaction I’ll get.
These self abandoning ways are uncomfortable, but also totally normal. They’re a byproduct of being socialized to be who others want us to be instead of being true to ourselves. As we mature and come into our own power, the process of stripping these layers and approaches off can be both painful in the realization of what we’ve been doing, as well as confronting in terms of learning new ways of being.
That said, if learning to honor yourself, and forgiving yourself for your choices instead of beating yourself up about them, has been a theme in your life as well, I thought you’d like to read the response I wrote to her.
From reading your story and the impressions it left me with, it feels like you went through a rite of passage in really learning to trust your body’s cues and guidance… as opposed to being a “good girl” who does what she thinks others want from her.
It’s uncomfortable and emotionally challenging to step away from patterns of bonding, merging, and pleasing others and move into individuating and honoring what’s right for you. But as much as it hurts, it seems like you really GOT the lesson. Now you KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that there is nothing more important than listening to your body’s cues and inner guidance. It’s your best and most reliable guide and trumps what anyone else (including your mind or ego) says or wants.
From there though, I feel like your ego is using this “mistake” (i.e. life learning experience) to judge, hurt, and condemn you and it feels like the next piece is to stand up to this force which is hugely draining and life negating and reclaim who in you is running the show: your highest self, your heart, your wisdom, your compassion, the fierce-love mama bear who isn’t going to let anyone bully you.
We all do “the wrong thing” and make messy mistakes that inconvenience others. I could literally get out a scroll of such moments. But that doesn’t give your ego the right to beat you up. You did what you did to learn, to see a part of yourself who (as of that time) was so scared to say no that she said yes to please another. You got to see how she will abandon herself for approval and to be loved. And you got to deeply see and feel that when you let her make your choices for you, it hurts you big time. But bringing it up to the current moment, it seems like the question is: who in you is being the voice of compassion and encouragement for you now?
It’s one thing to feel and release pain, and the underlying traumas in your life that have led to this part of you feeling that she has to abandon herself for others to like/want/love her. But it’s completely another thing to be in self-punishment about it all. Let the tears come. Love the parts of you that need to cry and grieve and release. But don’t abandon these parts of you to ego who will do nothing but diminish how really well you’re doing, how much you’ve learned and are learning, and how much you’ve leaving behind being the girl who feels she can’t listen to or honor herself.
Take what may be useful in this and leave anything that isn’t. xo