I have noticed that anything a person does in their life that’s not really for them can’t be done in large doses without depleting them somehow. It causes an imbalance and that’s when people come for help. It can be as big as having children when you didn’t really want to but your partner did, or choosing a career that other people approve of but doesn’t light you up, to smaller but no less impactful things such as eating the kinds of foods your family likes rather than asking what you feel like eating, or watching the movies others choose that you wouldn’t have chosen to watch. Often therapy is a process of figuring out what you are doing for other people and why and what it is you really want to be doing for you. In other words it is about seeking your truth which is something that often gets lost in the ‘Doing Stuff Because Of Others’.
If the things you do regularly do not feed your soul, you are asking for trouble. Trouble shows up as depression, anger, gaining weight, losing your zest for living and relating. So if there are things you have to do regularly or you spend a lot of time doing, you had better find something in it for you – and fast.
Parenting for example, is something we have to do a lot of regularly. It doesn’t come in small doses does it? So does it feed your soul in that deep energizing way – or do you find it depleting overall? Tough question isn’t it? But an important one to figure out for yourself. Your answer may well be a mix of the two – but which side does it lean towards? What I’ve noticed is that in the long run parenting seems to lean more towards depleting in a deep sense when someone parents with good intention and puts a lot of energy into it without any sense of purpose other than, “I love them and I want to give them what they need”.
If you leave yourself out of the equation, parenting seems to become more of an exercise of will power. What I mean by this is that if you solely do parenting things for the sake of the children you have to constantly decide to override your needs – and you do this because you want to be the kind of person who parents well. But, because you’re not getting anything really for you from it – a slow growing depression, an emptiness to life and a hidden resentment of the cause – the children – might fester beneath the surface. This can create a terrible dilemma because resenting the demands made on you by your children is exactly the opposite of the kind of parent you want to be. Then it becomes even harder to love yourself because you don’t meet your own standards of Someone Who Parents Well.
Are you getting my point? Find something in this parenting lark that is only for you before that slow-growing resentment and depression show themselves as mental or physical illness. Don’t wait for crisis to hit before you get help if you need some. Find your joy. Listen for your truth. Don’t override it. Nobody actually benefits from that. Make parenting for and about you and everyone will benefit.