“I can do things for others, but I can never do them for myself.”
Hmmm. Whenever I hear that, it doesn’t ring with truth.
In fact, I think it’s fundamentally impossible.
Doing things for others that we can “never” do for ourselves is really this:
“I do things for others because if I didn’t do those things, I’d feel like an even less worthy human being than I’m already experiencing myself to be.”
We cannot love someone else any more than we love ourselves. The degree to which we accept our own flaws is in direct correlation to the degree that we’re accepting of the flaws of another. We are authentically generous only to the degree that we feel truly prosperous. There’s a parallel and proportion to human behavior.
If someone shares that they can do things for their kids but they “can’t” do things for themselves, I know that Burnout is standing at the front door, waiting for the right time to arrive unannounced and start making trouble with some kind of mysterious illness. If someone says they can spend money on others but not themselves, I know that even when they find that “perfect gift” for their BFF, Depletion is going to suck dry all of the joy. If someone shares with me that they can forgive anyone but themselves, I know that Resentment is their constant, relentless, soul-crushing companion.
It’s not selfish to work on you.
It’s really the only work that we can do.
Other people can be the vehicles for our growth, but they can only take us so far. At some point, we will all face the reality of our own personal “inside job.”
This is not bad news. In fact, it’s time-saving news–start working on loving you, forgiving you, serving you, having compassion for you, and you will not only be cutting straight to the core, you’ll also be learning what it means to sink into someone else’s rough edges without being razed over. Working on you expands you–and that expansion is like a ripple effect that directly serves others.
Go ahead and “fake it until you make it” in the meantime. It’s not a bad thing to give, or to make pretenses at forgiveness even if you know that deep down there’s still a lot of work to do. Challenging ourselves to go beyond the places we’ve fully grown into is really an act of kindness to the world, and it exercises just the muscles that we need to strengthen.
Just don’t get caught up in the lie of there being a distinction between you, and everyone else.
We’re all One.