Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Be Nice (to yourself)!
Yesterday marked one month since my sweet dog passed away. It wasn't as traumatic of a milestone as I feared, but I was still feeling a bit low. While I was picking up some groceries I decided to buy a bouquet of flowers, in honor of Ritz and to add some bright color to my kitchen. My cashier was a girl in her late teens. I hadn't seen her before at that store. As she scanned the plastic wrapped bunch, she asked who the flowers were for. I smiled and said "They're for me". Her face fell a little and she let out a pitiful "Awww" sound, as if it were a sad thing and she felt sorry for me. I opened my mouth to respond but quickly closed it. I know there's nothing I can say to an 18 year old girl to make her understand why a 34 year old woman buying herself flowers on a Monday afternoon is not a sad event. I think at that age, I still thought men bought women flowers to woo them, instead of to apologize and that surely an adult woman buying herself flowers must be an old maid.
I believe part of the reason it seems like a strange gesture is because we don't really do a lot of things for our selves in our society, especially women. When I started seeing my life coach, one of the first observations she made was that it didn't seem like I was being kind to myself in my life. I thought that was absurd until we did more work together. It was the proverbial lightbulb going off above my head: I had been living my life to please others. I was worried about cleaning the house, getting a raise, visiting my mother, not because I wanted to but because that's what others expected of me or that's what I thought they wanted from me. Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I just said "Okay, I'll stop doing that" and things changed. It's still a struggle for me. I often have to check in with myself to make sure my motivations are true and not just for someone else. But I wasn't raised that way, and I don't think many of us are. We learn to do what we're told and what's expected of us from an early age. I think it's even hard to see how that can be a negative at times. I think of course I want my partner/mother/boss to be happy and to do what they want. Now, it's easy for me to see that this isn't always true to myself and I'm actually doing the boss/friend/mother a disservice. In the end, I'm not happy and therefore not much fun to be around so the other person doesn't end up having a good time either.
When struggling with a choice, such as should I go white water rafting with my boyfriend and his siblings, I ask myself "What would serve me best?" and I lay out the options and listen to myself. Yes, I want to spend time with my boyfriend but I don't like rafting, in fact it scares me a lot. I'm going to be afraid and he's going to be worried about me and no one's going to have a great time so I think I'll stay home and weed the garden and have dinner with him when he gets home. It wasn't easy to do at first but it's extremely helpful. Once I got the hang of it, I saw that decisions became a bit easier and I spend less time putting up with situations I don't enjoy. I challenge you to give it a try. Should I really spend $8 on flowers while I'm unemployed? Absolutely. And I don't have to justify it to the cashier or to anyone else!