Sometimes we need a little reminder. And, then other times we need more than that. We need a meaningful punch to snap out of it. To snap back to paying attention, paying attention to ourselves.
I was fretting over a couple of situations recently where I had myself in knots about what to do, what to say, how to be. Enough so that it took a meaningful punch from a good friend, who said, "This is not your responsibility. You're acting like it is." And, when I say meaningful punch, I mean it's a welcome jolt of reality, something I often count on from this friend.
It got me thinking about how subtle it is sometimes, the ways in which we can take on too much, diminish our sense of personal power, our self-worth. And, it can build until the little forms of self-betrayal become a way of being. It stops us from being truthful and effective. And, real.
How do we stop from robbing our own personal banks of self worth or power? These two ways are vital to replenish and revive.
Stop Taking Responsibility for Other People's Stuff
You know those times. If not, let me remind you. Those times when you want to help so badly that you, energetically, take on the problem. When you feel like you need to fix things, to get in the middle; to help or give advice, often unbidden. And, all because you care, at least it starts out that way.
Then, if things get complicated or don't go the way you hoped or envisioned, or the person or people come back at you, then you - wait for it - take it on. You become responsible for that person's or group's actions or feelings.
But, here's the thing. This is self-inflicted responsibility, misplaced ownership of that which doesn't belong to you. And, most of the time the other person or persons have no idea because they're focusing on themselves. They may sense of push-pull type of energy or they may not. Because it's in you, this self-inflicted responsibility, you're the one who is suffering.
The work, your work, is to know and understand the difference between support and responsibility. They dance next to each other but to very different tunes. Big aha for me!
This is not on you.
A dear friend used to say, "One, two, three; not about me." It's a good mantra in those moments. Another friend says, "How is this my problem?" It helps put things in their proper place.
Stop Apologizing for Yourself
This is the other debilitating way we betray ourselves. And, it's rampant, particularly with women.
You know those moments. If not, let me remind you. Those times you apologize when someone else gets in your way. Or you say I'm sorry for someone else's mistake or misgiving because you don't know what else to say or you somehow feel it's partially your fault, even when it isn't. Or you apologize for a situation that is clearly out of your control, outside of your jurisdiction, just because you extended the invitation to an event that goes awry or you brought to someone's attention something in the ether that ended up being offensive. Something you had nothing to do with. Or when you apologize for taking up space, for breathing.
The last one may seem far fetched, but that's the impression it leaves. I've been trying to be mindful of when I do this. And, when I see or hear another woman do it, sometimes it's a reflex to say, 'stop apologizing.' Primarily because it's a reminder or a call for all of us to stop it.
"Oh okay... Sorry."
Apologizing for yourself is another way of taking responsibility for something or someone that has nothing to do with you. Yikes.
The first step is awareness. Start noticing, listening, as others do it, apologizing for things that don't require an apology from them, and then notice how it disempowers them instantly.
At the same time, shine the spotlight on yourself. Pay attention to how and when you do the same. Don't judge yourself for it. That's not what this is about at all. It's about reclaiming your inner strength and worth, your life, instead of continually giving your power away, one I'm Sorry at a time.
Perhaps find another word. Remove I'm Sorry from your vocabulary. It so easily slips off the tongue, for everything. So, if you stop yourself from saying those words, then it allows you a moment to consider what's really happening and if the situation calls for you to say anything at all. If so, then find another way to engage, empathize, support, respond.
This is not about when something occurs that does require a heartfelt apology, something that you are a part of. This is about not diminishing yourself and your life. It's also about not putting what you perceive to be other people's opinions about you or your actions above your own self worth.
In her book, "Girl, Stop Apologizing," Rachel Hollis says, "If you actively take steps and intentionally begin to live without obsessing over what other people think of you, it will be the most freeing decision of your life."
So, stop apologizing for yourself. And, stop taking responsibility for another's stuff.
Instead, be in full ownership of your own life, your own power. Now, that's on you. How awesome is that?
Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash