Our Needs are Equal to Others
Self Care isn't about our needs being more important than others it's about them being equal to others.
Although they are equal, we as adults are always responsible for our own needs being met and how we go about that.
Don't mistake selflessness behaviour as selfless, it isn't. Usually, it is an indirect way of having our needs met due to our own shame, fear or rejection of our needs. By being selfless we are seen in a particular light and even see ourselves in a particular light.
As I see it, selfishness is when we believe our wants and needs are more important than others. When we make our wants and needs not only our focus but we expect others to do the same and behave in ways that discourage or block others from valuing their own needs or wants.
This can often play out between individuals and organisations, or individuals and families as well as simply between two people.
It does get tricky for most of us when our needs and the other persons are competing. Like a partner wants us to do something and we don't want to or the company we work for wants us to prioritize their needs over our own personal ones or when a family dynamic wants us to play a particular role and we want to be free of it. It challenges our sense of security, belonging and often triggers guilt or frustration.
There isn't a one size fits all answer for this, however, there is a basic guideline worth considering starting with these questions...
- What am I responsible for here?
- What do I need/want here?
- What is the other responsible for?
When another person is requesting something of us but not making us responsible for their need, it usually results in a neutral experience if it is met with a no. However, if the person's request has responsibility loaded onto it, it usually ends up in emotional entanglement when we don't
If a person has been putting another persons needs ahead of our own then it usually goes one of two ways, a very one-sided unhealthy dynamic or else someone martyring in a hope to get it back.
When we martyr we often end up competing for our needs with others, pointing out all the ways the other met their needs. However, the real issue is usually how we sacrificed our needs to meet the others needs and now are hurt the other won't do the same.
When we are equal and still solely responsible for how we meet our own needs we tend to relate in a way that has far more authenticity and clarity.
Now there are always exceptions to the rules so to speak. Which means that there are times to compromise our needs/wants in the best interest of something else such as a partner, family need or your company's need in a certain situation if we choose to, not because we have been cornered to do so. However, if this is frequent there is an issue with displaced responsibility occurring.
In parenting this can get tricky as often parents sacrifice themselves for their kids, creating one-sided relationships which can often role model one-sided relationships later on.
Parents do have a responsibility towards their children's well-being and care as well as their own. This responsibility includes role modelling and teaching children how to take responsibility for their own needs and wants (when possible, age appropriately), how to manage when others can't do for them what they want and to teach that relationships are two individuals relating, not one being more important than another.
Yes in early years the level of responsibility is very different to in the teens or adulthood, however, interdependence, whenever possible, provide children with self-belief, capacity to identify and verbalize their needs and sets them up for a much stronger future in terms of relationships.
I understand there are demands on parents that aren't on others and that the responsibility of parenthood is far greater than most other responsibilities. With this in mind, it is even more important for parents to live in a way that prioritizes their needs alongside others, including their children. Otherwise, there is often a manifestation of resentment, burnout, enmeshment and loss of self in the parent's life. Leaving children with an imbalanced and unrealistic expectation of others and life.
We all learn about relating and our needs from our original relationships, often our parents and this very much colours how we experience our needs and wants.
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