Have you ever heard someone say, “I have never been there, but have always wanted to go”? Or perhaps, “I wish I could do this instead”? I hear that all the time from one person or another. Not just in my work but in my day to day life. I have often thought to myself, “Then why don’t you?” So a few years ago I started asking them that question out loud.
It is amazing the excuses that people can come up with! What it all really boils down to, though, is that they don’t think that their desires are a worthy enough cause to actually fulfil. There is always something else or someone else that is in the way or demanding their attention and, therefore, is more important than their heart’s desire.
Why is it that we are always placing ourselves LAST? What makes ME less worthy than another? I think that over generations people have been told that they need to get to the back of the line…and so they have. In so doing, they place their needs below others’ desires. When we do that to ourselves we make ourselves sick. We place ourselves constantly in a state of wishful thinking instead of consciously intending.
We are told that we always have to take care of the needs of those around us, to the detriment of our own needs being met. Why? Do people not realise that in doing this they are diminishing their own well-being and, therefore, are not going to be able to care for those around them when they crash and burn? There is an expression, “If mama ain’t happy then nobody happy,” and I think that this should be applies to our wishful thinking. We need to make ourselves happy and then that happiness can be shared. We need to make sure that our health is going well so that we can care for those whose health is not. On an plane we are told that if we are travelling with children and some unlikely thing goes wrong, we need to put OUR oxygen masks on first, THEN put the masks on our children. Why? because if WE run out of oxygen then we won’t be able to put the masks onto our children’s faces. That is why. The same needs to apply to other things in our lives.
We need to make sure that we are healthy and available on a soul level. We need to do what nourishes our soul. We focus so much on providing the things we never had to our children that we forget that, in doing so, we also risk them developing a sense of entitlement. After all, it becomes pretty easy to take for granted that for which we have not worked. Perhaps we need to shift our focus from such things and ask ourselves things like, “How can I make this happen?” “How can I create opportunity to take that trip to Greece?” “What do I need to do to create better relations with my spouse?” “What is it that I need to do to ensure that I get enough “me” time in my week?” Many of these sorts of things are actually quite attainable. Sometimes it means allowing others the liberty of self-responsibility so that we make space for ourselves and are not slaves to the demands of others.
There was a time, not so long ago, that, being self-employed, I would not take a vacation. I went close to 25 years without one of those things. This is because in order to do so I would need to make twice as much money BEFORE the vacation so that I could afford to take the time off. After all, when you are self-employed you are not paid vacation leave. Then I began making it happen. I needed to have the proper motivation and a sense of security so that I would be able to not be stressed about it all the while that I was trying to relax on vacation. I have managed to do this. Now, instead of taking no time off, I have been able to go from taking 1 week off, to taking 2 weeks off, with another week a few months later, and another yet a few months after that. When you work in a helping and healing profession people will sometimes get twisted about the time off that you take, thinking that it is YOUR responsibility to be there for them WHILE you are on vacation, or thinking that you actually can’t take a vacation until they feel secure enough within themselves. All that is hogwash. They can take care of themselves after you leave. If they can’t do that for a week or two, then they have much more serious problems than the one in which you get to have some well-earned time off. So if you are in a care-giving profession, give yourself permission to do what you need to do for YOU. Otherwise you risk placing yourself in a perpetual state of wishful thinking, and you will not ever be 100% there for ANYONE, least of all yourself.
Currently I have no desires whatsoever to go visit some far away land. Most of them I have already seen anyway. My desires have more to do with slowing down. That translates into going to the lake, or, if I am not on “vacation”, taking time to sit in the gazebo on the back deck and sip some coffee and commune with the birds, and listen to the trickling water from the fountain in the flower bed. From there, in my mind, I can travel anywhere in the universe! This saves me so much expense when it comes to plane tickets! But for the most part it is about just becoming still and allowing myself to get more centred with each passing moment. I only have to begin to breathe to feel the positive effects. I think I may be a relaxation/meditation/contemplation master! But there was a time when I would think to myself, “I wish I could just sit and sip coffee and enjoy nature.” While thinking that, there was ALWAYS the possibility to do so right in THAT moment, but I felt that to do so was either decadent or lazy. I was raised by a father who equated inactivity with laziness and activity with productivity….both of which are lies and perceptions that can be quite unhealthy. So I had to actually give myself PERMISSION to just not be in constant motion. That constant motion was appreciated by managers in various jobs that I had over the years, and being quite organised, I was proficient in my activity. But I was never at rest. After studying zazen meditation for a number of years and continuing to practice it to this day, I can honestly say that now….NOW…. I am able to REST. And it is WONDERFUL!!