It’s the closing of another year. I am generally not someone who creates a New Year’s resolution list. Rather, I find myself reflecting at this time of year. What has happened in the past 12 months? How have I been changed, informed, affected by my life and the people in it, the world around me? For me, this is a time for pause. It’s not about goal-setting, but rather about remembering what’s influenced me and in turn, what arrow I want to take out of my quiver. What direction do I want my bow to face as the new year arrives?
I’ve been pondering an essential dilemma this year, one which most of us will face periodically throughout our lives. It’s the conundrum of self versus other, the delicate balance of giving to the ones we love while not losing one’s own well-being along the way. As this theme has emerged poignantly in my own life, I notice it with even more clarity for others too. In fact, as we are all navigating our complicated lives and relationships, it seems this is one of the essential struggles we have in our culture.
It’s the pull of partnership versus independence. Being there for your kids when you’d rather be off playing, working, chillin’. Maybe there’s a loved one in your life who has high needs, an aging parent or an adult child needing a lot of support. If you have significant relationships in your life, there’s always a pull between these poles. We want the people we love and care about to feel good. Sometimes, the well-being of others becomes a preoccupation. When this happens, it’s hard to feel that one’s own wants and needs matter. Combine this with a plethora of childhood experiences where your tender needs may have been devalued, or maybe you were required to caretake a parents’ emotional needs as your needs were simply neglected, overlooked. Perhaps there was trauma, abuse, consistent criticism and shaming. Makes caring for one’s self pretty confusing. It’s not natural or intuitive to priortize one’s self when there’s been a deep history of messages saying your needs don’t matter.
It’s no wonder we are pulled apart at times.
My front row seat of watching people face life’s challenges reminds me that we are all juggling, trying to find the balance of me versus others. Highschoolers figuring out where they fit in and who to please, young adults pressured to forge a path of stability and identity, new parents shocked by the pressing demands of a new baby, couples in both love and conflict, newly single and long-time single folks making meaning of both aloneness and loneliness. We have to remember how to extend love to others without causing ourselves harm in the process.
I recently listened to this podcast that was a great re-visit to Melony Beattie’s classic book, Codependent No More. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/we-should-talk-about-that/id1493416901?i=1000584463017
Having written the first edition 37 years ago, she discusses how much her views and understanding of this overused and often misunderstand concept have evolved over the years. It’s a perfect time to be reminded of both how simple and complicated codependency really is. Also, what the heck does it really mean?
If you, like me, are always looking for new ways to heal and grow, let the start of this year be the right time for that. Another favorite podcast, REIMAGINING LOVE, offered a beautiful discussion with best-selling author Alex Elle about ways to heal and grow while cultivating deep self-acceptance. I loved the reminder that we are all in this journey together and healing is something we do throughout our lives. Alex offers a new way of healing through restorative writing. I personally am excited to get her new book and do a deep dive into the writing process. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/reimagining-love/id1588419386?i=1000585465137
A fabulous new book that I will be recommending wholeheartedly to anyone who will listen is Getting to Zero: How to Work Through Conflict in Your High-Stakes Relationships, by Jayson Gaddis. I am currently listening to this book but also bought a copy as there is so much useful information in it. I love the way he refers to our important people as high-stakes. Jayson gives practical and detailed methods on how to really show up and be present, listen with openness, cultivate empathy and basically be a better partner, friend, parent and human being.
Let this time of year, the juxtaposition of endings and beginnings, land softly inside of you. We all need to be reminded from time to time to soften our focus and find more ease. Is it possible, just for today, to become less consumed with goal-setting? Can you open your heart to yourself, listen deeply to your truth, prioritize your own self and align with your essence?
Look back without judgment. Look ahead without attachment.
"Self-love helps us build internal cohesion so that we are no longer far away from ourselves. The more we come in contact with our truth and learn to embrace it with full acceptance, the more we are able to find greater personal harmony." Yung Pueblo (from his latest book, LIGHTER.)