Taking care of myself is not selfish!
The first part of serving others is to listen to myself and my needs. I cannot give anyone something that I do not have. Am I taking care of myself today?
I used to think that taking care of me was selfish. I gave and gave, and tried to be and do what others wanted until I was exhausted. My life really was insanity because I was so tired. I could not think straight and I was always worrying, anxious and fearful. When I finally listened to a friend and attended a 12 step support group, I heard that the 1st step is to recognize that my life is unmanageable.
I learned that I am not being selfish when I go to support meetings, exercise, ask for help, eat right, get enough sleep, take time to read my scriptures and pray, rest, examine my behavior and take action to correct it, and share myself with others. When I pay attention to what I need I am not being selfish. As I take care of myself, I gain strength, power and wisdom to know when and how to serve and help others.
Control is an illusion – I am powerless.
I am powerless over other people, places, things and many situations. As I have listened to others describe people and situations that they have no control over, I realized that I often try to control and manipulate also.
In the past, I can see times where I have tried to exert control with no effect. I thought that if only I could do or say the “right” things that other people would not be “mad” at me. I have done or said things to try and distract people from talking about or doing things that I did not want them to. By doing and saying or not doing or saying things I have sought to gain acceptance and love from people. I was trying to be what I thought others wanted. This only pushed people away, lowered my self-esteem and made me feel angry and unsatisfied with myself.
As I look at myself I constantly see places where I need to let go. Sometimes I still want other people to change so I can be happy. I even try to control the direction and speed of my own recovery process.
It takes me time to see what and who I am trying to control. As I figure it out, I can take steps to let go and remember that I am powerless over others. I can put the focus back on me – the only thing that I can control.
When I catch myself thinking that I know what someone else should do, I can laugh at myself now. I used to always think that I had the solutions for everyone else’s problems.
I used to always have the solutions for everyone else’s difficulties, but I never knew what I should do. How illogical is that? If I really knew the answer to everyone else’s questions and problems, then I would have no worries of my own.
I am learning to try and listen instead of giving unwanted advice. It takes practice, and I often have to make amends. Everyone around me is smart and capable and God is involved in their life and will help them. I can support others by listening and giving advice when asked and only if prompted to say something. When I focus on myself I realize that God is involved in my life and will help me. I can concentrate on my own problems and questions and seek guidance from my Heavenly Father.
I used to think that I was a bad person because my loved one was not happy. I was continually trying to be perfect, but I failed over and over and my loved one would often get angry with me. If only I could do the “right” things then we would be happy. As I attended support group meetings, I realized that I am not a bad person, I am just human.
I think that we all do the best we can with where we are at each moment. Sometimes those around me hurt me and behave in negative ways. I often make mistakes! But I am not bad and neither are they.
If I can separate behaviors from people, I can live and interact from a more peaceful loving place. We all have values and beliefs that may or may not be based on truth. I am continually learning and replacing my values and beliefs. As I seek to be close to God, I will continue to learn and my values and beliefs will become nearer and nearer to the truth.
What I learn can give me power.
As I learn about addiction and abuse I gain knowledge and knowledge is power. But, if I’m not careful, as I read I can sink into anxiety and worry and negative self-talk.
I might wonder what I am still doing with these people and worry about all the “wasted” time I have spent going nowhere. Sometimes I forget that I am and have been doing the best that I can with where I am at in each moment. I can forget how much I have learned and what a different person I am now than I used to be.
God has been with me and has been guiding me. I learn more and grow as I am ready and willing to do so. Heavenly Father can help me to learn as I am reading. As I seek to know God’s will and ask for power to carry out His will He helps me draw the right conclusions and make the right decisions. Knowledge and power becomes wisdom and peace as I move in the directions God is leading me.