There is so much counterproductive advice circulating about what emotional healing is.
So many of us break under the weight of other people’s expectations. We string ourselves out, preoccupied with ensuring we are just precisely what others might need us to be. In fact, when we set out on a healing journey, it is almost always because we have totally neglected our needs in one way or another, for a long period of time.
Maybe you have to prioritize yourself for a while.
Maybe you need to say “no,” clear your schedule, and reflect.
Maybe you have to practice voicing your own boundaries.
Maybe you have to stop allowing yourself to be bulldozed by other people. Maybe you have to start doing what feels right to you over what might look right to others.
But long-term, healing is not neglecting other people’s needs in favor of your own. It is not only doing what feels immediately comfortable and gratifying — and that includes prioritizing yourself, and only yourself.
So much of the self-healing rhetoric is focused on being selfish — which, yes, you might need to be initially. However, those exact behaviors are what will actually make you feel worse over time.
It is not okay to consistently cancel plans on people last minute because you don’t feel like going anymore. It is not okay to stop showing up for work and expect other people to pick up the slack. It is not okay to speak or act impulsively and without any real consideration for the consequences. It is not okay to be unnecessarily confrontational, it is not okay to try to get everyone around you to change so you never feel challenged or uncomfortable.
You cannot expect people to like you, show up for you, respect you or be there for you if you constantly treat them like this. Honoring yourself does not involve disrespecting others, and it never has.
The answer is not that the world needs to change to suit you, the answer is that you need to learn how to speak up, compromise, coexist, collaborate, and find a way to meet your needs while still being considerate of other people’s.
The problem was never that you were only ever meeting other people’s needs and neglecting your own. The problem was that you did not know how to respect other people while still advocating for yourself.
Everything you want in life in some way involves other people. Yes, really, everything. Learning to coexist with others isn’t some optional thing you can maybe learn to do one day. It’s a fundamental skill that you need to learn in order to build the life you really want.
To be really good at relationships, you have to anticipate other people’s needs, in the exact same way that you’d hope they’d anticipate yours. To be really good at your job, you have to anticipate your client’s needs, in the same way that you’d hope they’d be considerate of yours. You have to be able to respect people, to meet them where they are at, to stop trying to jolt them out of their own life and onto your specific path.
When you only consider yourself, you don’t get very far.
You end up isolated, and alone, wondering why nobody is there for you in your time of need. The truth is that we often get what we give, and we cannot expect people to show up for us if we did not show up for them. We cannot totally disregard other people just because we need to prioritize ourselves first.
The two can coexist, and in fact, they must. You must learn to at once live in your truth while allowing other people to live in theirs. If you don’t, your path will be lined with dead-ends, conflict, and pain.
Life is about relationships. First, the one we have with ourselves, and then the one we have with those around us. The real and true healing is how we learn to first take care of our needs so that we are better equipped to be empathetic, compassionate, aware and responsive to other people’s. Life is an ecosystem, one body or being cannot be an island unto themselves.
Take care of yourself first. But remember that the goal was never to take care of yourself only.