I have always been good at showing up for others. Most caregivers are. Showing up for ourselves is another story. Why do we do that? Why do we put what everyone else needs and desires above our own? I was reflecting on this and had some thoughts:
- If I say no, I will let someone down
- They depend on me
- I will feel terrible if I don’t help
- I owe that to them
- If I can do it, then I should do it
- It’s selfish not to help others
- I want them to like me
- My daughter needs me
- If I don’t do it, who will
These are just a few of the many reasons we say yes to others. The problem is when you say yes to one thing in your life, you are saying no to something else. This is how it works. If I agree to do something for someone at a time when I usually journal or exercise. I am taking the time away from doing those things. If I agree to stay up past my usual bedtime to go out, I am saying no to my sleep. We are putting others’ needs and wants before our own.
What if we flipped the script? What if we calendar our needs first and then fit other’s needs around our plans? What would happen? As you can see, I love asking questions. It is by changing how we look at being accountable that we can find a way to do it for ourselves.
What is accountability anyway? It is defined by Merriam-Webster as the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s action.
You see we are responsible for our actions. We all have the same hours in the day to get things done. We get to decide how we use them. I do not HAVE to care for my daughter. I do not HAVE to show up to my job every day. I do not HAVE to cook dinner for the family. These are all choices that I make each day. The key is learning to show up for ourselves first and then for other people.
A little over two years ago, I decided that I was going to live by the Merriam-Webster definition of accountability. I was going to take action for my choices and not blame other people or my circumstances. I could no longer use other people as an excuse for not caring for my body, mind, and spirit. I designed how to make that work. I decided to get up earlier and go to bed earlier. I decided to sacrifice TV and wine time for sleep. I did not sleep until Emily woke up and called for me to get her out of bed. I started getting up hours before she usually does. I use the early morning hours to journal, plan my day, meditate and stretch. I use that time to visualize how I would love my day to go. I visualize what obstacles may come up. Every day is not perfect and things change. (Read my post My Superpower: Adapt and Pivot for more on.)
Something incredible happened when I showed up for myself first. I had more time for others. I was happier. I was calmer. I was thinner. I began to feel more joy and gratitude in caring for Emily rather than resentment. Yes, I had come to a point where I had placed everyone and everything above me and I felt resentful, hopeless, trapped, overwhelmed. It is hard to share that with others. I am not proud but I own it. I accept responsibility for how I was showing up. I am accountable for my actions in the past, in the present, and the future.