Being a good person is not synonymous with trying to be all things to everyone — it is ok (and necessary) to feel, heal and be discerning
Self-help is not a one-way street. There are many avenues to healing, but they all begin with…uh, self.
Here’s the deal: We all want to feel better, do better, show up better in the world (or at least we say we do). There is no roadmap for that and your path will be as unique as your fingerprint. What works for you, may inspire me, but may not move the needle in my own life (and vice versa). But I get excited about it all — provided that we don’t get caught up in the trap of what I call the ‘Self-Help Hiccup’.
I describe this as the place where we can get stuck in either judgment or martyrdom, and sometimes both. Bear with me. I’ll start by saying I play this mental tug-o-war in my head all the time. Likely, you have your own version of it, too.
Look, when I come across something fresh and inspiring, be it a new book, practice, recipe, protocol, concept, etc., I want to sing its praises from the mountain tops, literally — to give it a whirl, and why not? I want everyone I know to live healthy, vibrant lives in all aspects. I want them to ‘see the light’ and emerge from the darkness of their stubborn ways. But shock, shock…not everyone wants to play or see it my way — and that’s ok…because my way isn’t necessarily the high way. We all have our own paths to walk and until mine hits Nirvana, it’s probably best that I focus there. I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me.
That doesn’t make me a less caring soul, in fact, it’s the opposite. It actually allows my heart to expand with compassion and a serving of humble pie. It’s not our job to save the world or fix anyone. And by the way, we couldn’t if you tried.
On one side of the mental equation, we place a judgement on others declaring: They need this. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. The key is to refrain from making that determination for them; not your business, not mine either. The flip side of this is the real hook, martyrdom. In the name of all things consciousness, we can lay our common sense down on the altar of martyrdom thinking that in order to be a ‘good’ person we need to love everyone, be kind to everyone, forgive everyone.
The best advice I was ever given as I was navigating some very tricky emotional wounding was:
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to do lunch.
Now that may seem obvious to some, simplistic to others — but it hit me square in the eyes when I needed it most. Sometimes on this path to discovery we mislead ourselves to believe that it’s all rainbows and unicorns, that life can be peace, love and happiness without the messiness, without giving ourselves permission to say, You know what, I don’t want to do life with this person.
And another trap: when things aren’t ‘perfect’, when we can’t achieve a ZEN state — we can begin to beat ourselves up asking, what’s wrong with me?
People hurt us. People do unkind things to us. People let us down and betray us. That’s life. But if we don’t create the space to feel those feelings, to heal those wounds, to trace their roots back, to find out how and why we engaged with them in the first place — we miss the hidden gift, the opportunity to grow further, reach higher.
Self-help can be ugly, but like any mess — if we see it, we can clean it up. If we don’t see it, we bury it, deny it, pretend it isn’t there, harbor it and let it eat away at us. Self-help is not synonymous with bypassing our emotions.
We can heal our deepest wounds and we can become our best selves in the process. We can put love into the world. We can wish others well, we can even forgive them…but that still gives us the right to not have lunch.
Being a ‘good’ person does not mean that you must be all things to all people.
YOU are your job.
Your family, friends and community are not your job — and if you think you can change them, you are going to run yourself ragged. We cannot change people, however, we can create opportunities, we can create invitations, we can plant seeds, we can create inspiration and we can pave the way. When we do our part, do our work, become our best selves and keep on becoming…we make a difference in immeasurable ways with all we come in contact with — whether by a simple smile passing someone on the street or a more tangible interaction. Bottom line: It all matters.
If your goal is to be your best self, don’t worry about the accolades. Sometimes you’ll get them, sometimes you’ll never have a clue who you impacted, how and when. Recently there’s been a lot of talk about my friend Dr. Christiane Northrup’s new program, Dodging Energy Vampires. It ruffled a few feathers and stirred the pot. In her soon-to-be released book of the same name, she outlines the plight of the empath (those who are highly sensitive) in defending themselves from energy vampires (those who drain the energy from others).
Though I may not have always used this exact terminology and I frankly don’t like the word ‘vampire’ — I’ve certainly known a few of them in my life. So, here’s the real crux of things: Can we be discerning and protect ourselves without placing a judgement of right and wrong on others? Can we consider ourselves ‘good’ people and have boundaries and not want to play with everyone?
YES! and YES!
This is the biggest self-help hiccup, trap, sticky-pad of them all. Perhaps we could stop placing a judgement of good and bad / right and wrong and self-righteousness on others and simply do our work. Our work is discerning what feels right for us, what feels safe, what nurtures our super powers so that we can be the best versions of ourselves and so that we can bring forth our gifts to the world. And in turn, as a radical act of self-love, we get to decide to not hang with those who hurt us, make us feel unsafe, or deflate us.
Discernment is not a dirty word.
What if we all simply put the ‘self’ back into self-help? Help yourself. Stop judging others. Don’t try to be everything to everyone (repeat). That’s how to avoid getting caught on the spin cycle of self-empowerment, getting nowhere.
This life path is a windy, bumpy one. It will lead us up and down and in all directions — and that’s an amazing thing. Things will come and go. If you are anything like me, sometimes certain protocols run their course; I soak up the energy, implement it and am onto the next thing.
Here’s my advice and what I’m going to try to practice:
- Stay thirsty for new ways to expand
- Stay open and receptive, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
- Keep an open heart
- Refrain from being judgmental, self-righteous and know-it-all-ey
- Stay in your own backyard (fix yourself)
- Put authentic loving kindness into the world, but don’t try to save it
- Save yourself (make it OK to be honest with your feelings)
They don’t call it a journey for nothing.
Keep on truckin’ because you are an amazingly gorgeous ambassador of your best self. There are no imitations out there. Don’t try to be anyone else but YOU. Find your path, your people, your process and guard it ferociously. That doesn’t mean you don’t have the capacity to help others or the desire to love them up — just find your way, do your work and the rest will unfold.
Give yourself permission to create the space to feel, to heal and protect yourself. If you don’t, who will? And the greatest gift you can give the world is your best self because that version of you is pretty fabulous, just sayin’. Mic drop.
As always, I love hearing from you. Where do you find yourself distracted from your own self help work by ‘serving’ others? What’s your hiccup? Please let me know in the comments below!