The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Pillar 5 - Honour your wholeness by Loving Yourself
The Phoenix Perspective:
You have to take care of yourself.
No matter what you do, no one is going to take care of you.
A poster on my supervisor’s wall reads:
No One is Coming
Which seems to mean you’re on your own.
I’ll bet someone, some time, told you that loving yourself was selfish. They quoted a bunch of stuff about sharing and giving until it hurts, about making your needs second to, oh, just about everyone. If you are female, this often gets expressed as looking out for the happiness of everyone else on the planet. Often, if you are male, it plays out in working yourself to death. As the lines blur between men and women, there’s a bit of cross talk across the genders, but the argument goes: if you don’t look after others to the exclusion of your own needs, you are somehow a bad person. Selfish.
Now, of course, were you to look after your own needs while completely ignoring others, you would be selfish. So, let’s change the language to more closely approximate the point I’m trying to make. How about if we describe loving yourself and taking care of yourself as being self centered.
To which you might say, “Well, that’s worse!”
I would reply, “Well, where do you want your centre to be???”
Much of what we’ve been talking about has had to do with finding yourself amid the distractions you throw up in your own face. One of the biggest distractions is not understanding why others push you to put their needs first. (Of course, in keeping with what we’ve been saying, our goal isn’t to get others to stop trying to push our buttons. It’s coming to the realization that you push your buttons.)
One of the best ways to have a lousy relationship is to make a pact with someone to take care of them, with reciprocity - sort of the “I’ll look after you and you look after me syndrome.” Of course, no one can perfectly (or imperfectly!) look after another person’s needs, and it does get boring after a while - admit it!
What’s actually happening here is pretty basic. Taking care of assumes a system where people rate the depth of their relationship on how much the other person does for them. My self-worth, then, gets tied up in you reading my mind and making my life easy for me - this somehow means you love me.
Here’s a thought:
Adults look after kids.
When you get to be an adult,
you look after yourself.
As we begin to explore our own centre, we explore the concept that, in actuality, we meet our own needs. If we choose to do this, we certainly will shake up the people around us. They’ll intuitively recognize that we will be less likely to do as we are told if we suddenly start taking ourselves seriously.
Initially, those around you will try to get you to “behave.” The solution is to stay focused on your centre. Which, as we said, is centered in you - in your self.
Bringing your centre into yourself acknowledges that “No one is coming .” No one is going to make it “all better” for us. As we begin to know this, we are suddenly and miraculously given the opportunity to take personal responsibility for our lives. While we lose the ability to blame others when things don’t work out, we gain the ability to take our lives into our own hands. From this perspective, when we do something well, we say, “Good job. I’ll remember that one.”
Then we fail, rather than blaming, we say, “Whoops. Hate the results of that action. I think I’ll try that another way.”
As we begin to understand this principle, we see that, rather than thinking that others or situations, for example, “making us happy,” we see that we, ourselves, choose happiness. We begin to explore, from this understanding, the concept that we create all of our reality. We begin to explore the depths of whom we are.
Most of my clients, these days, are coming from this place of questioning. For years they’ve been doing what their culture (their “birth tribe”) taught them to do, and feel incomplete, lonely, misunderstood and scattered. Then, something pulls them into self-exploration, as they seek after their centre. With exploration comes purpose and direction. And a lot of re-defining of relationships.
Externally, nothing much needs to change. The change is in the focus. People with a self-centre are not willing to do things because “everyone else” is doing it that way. They will experiment with behaviours and understandings that may not be “socially acceptable.” They tend to teach and live self-responsibility. In this process, they form relationships with others who are on similar walks, and who, emphatically, don’t want to be “looked after.” They, in other words, find a new “tribe.” And they invite those that they love to let go of rescue mode, too.
The bottom line is that everything you need to know, everything that you are and everything you will be is already inside of you. Some parts you’ve made excellent use of, some parts have been put on hold, some parts have never seen the light of day, but they are there, none the less. What we do, at The Phoenix Centre, is to help people access all of themselves, so that they can do amazing things.
To be whole, you have to be willing to take complete responsibility for your walk. Your value comes from within. Your sense of purpose comes from within. Your strength and courage . . . you get it . . . comes from within.
Inside - is where the action is. Stay focused. You already have what you need. Be open, be honest, reveal yourself. To yourself. To others.
Your twelfth exercise: What would you life be like if you took responsibility for your walk, your happiness? What would you find if you went to your centre? How do you keep yourself from being you? Whom are you putting ahead of you? Why?