“What do they need?”
Is this a recurring thought for you about your children, your parents, your work team or volunteer group? For most women, this thought begins to crop up in the late twenties and it continues unabated for the next twenty years. For those forced to become ‘parents’ early—e.g. for siblings of alcoholic parents—this thought starts even earlier in life.
“What do they need…today, this week, this school year, this quarter?” As women we nurture and often we enable. How many women do you know who are still cooking for and serving their 20-something children living at home? Or, bringing work home nights and weekends to cover for inept or inexperienced people? Or, who work doubles or do over-time at work OR home while also supporting aging parents? You get my point.
Take a breath, we all do the best we can! Take another cleansing breath and wonder [get curious]: could it be different? Is it time? Is now the time to start thinking differently? Even if people are still currently dependent on you, could there be a crack in that ‘I have to’ armor you’ve worn for all these years? Is it possible that others might be able to, may even want to support you to have a fulfilling and purposeful second half of life, for you to break out of the box that started getting built around you decades ago?
It’s not a bad thing to help others, to want to nurture, love, support, even enable. It’s just that after decades of living this way, it leads to loss of self [asking yourself ‘who is that?’ when you look in the mirror, wondering ‘What happened to me?’].
The changing picture of self starts with a changing mindset, with getting control of your mind, of your thoughts. Instead of ‘What do they need,’ imagine thoughts like: ‘Is it my turn now?’ ‘What would happen if...[I took a night a week for my hobby/passion]?’ ‘What would happen if I went away to a conference on a ‘soft’ topic that will enhance my leadership for my team?’ ‘Will my loved ones/team be ok?’
Changing your mindset from others to self takes time, commitment, but mostly desire. You must want to begin to change the way you see yourself in order for others to change what they see/experience in you. Consider it with love for yourself, and for your second half of life. And, as great role modeling for everyone, especially for the girls and younger women in your life. Is it possible for them to do it differently? Do they have to ‘lose themselves’ along their life’s journey? Or, if we show them at a younger age how to connect, love themselves, and collaborate and partner more effectively with others, might they come into their mature years in joy and strength, on-purpose and fulfilled in a way that we only wish we were today, at this life stage?