Does anyone remember Brownie Guides? You know, the troupes of little girls from 7 - 11, who wore brown tunics and danced around a mushroom?
I’ll never forget, when we joined, we had to make a promise. It was ‘a Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good deed every day”.
It seemed like that was what a good person was, and it was over a decade before I questioned this.
This was a decade of trying to put others first, denying my own needs and wondering why life felt so hard. Why I was always exhausted, confused about what I wanted and anxious about everything. Why I was so often sick.
Out of desperation I turned to women’s work - studying and learning about women’s physiology, psychology and spiritual path and realised I was not alone, in fact I was part of an epidemic of women who compulsively over give.
Since then society has evolved and self care as a concept is mainstream.
We are told that doing what lights us up, following our passions, loving ourselves first, are the keys to happiness and fulfilment.
But truth is, this misses the truth mark just as much as putting others first did.
Focussing on our own happiness doesn’t make us happy.
Sacrificing ourselves for others makes us resentful and sick.
What we need is a bit of both.
What I see in my practice as a love and relationship coach is that:
We need to prioritise pleasure and fun to stay well, especially women, who tend to be very bad at this
We need to acknowledge and express our emotions or we get sick
When couples make taking care of one another more of a priority than focussing on getting their own needs met, magic happens.
When individuals feel they belong and are giving to others and/or a greater cause they feel happy.
We need to take pleasure and fun seriously to stay well and thrive, physically and emotionally.
But we also get more meaning from life and more joy and happiness when we have a bigger cause.
So next time you’re eating chocolate or taking some time for yourself, you can remind your partner you are ‘doing it for us’.
And next time you’re being generous you can smile knowing that, so long as you don’t deny your own needs, the getting really is in the giving.