Apparently somewhere along my life’s journey, I decided that it was up to me to make sure that everyone was taken care of. And when someone isn’t taken care of - regardless of my ability to control the situation – I feel guilty. And when in the process of making sure I am taken care of, someone’s needs aren’t met – I feel even more guilty.
Yesterday John and I were out of the office at several meetings. We had a conference call with a group from the US and because we would be out of the office, we weren’t able to make international calls and requested that our partners conference us in. At 11am, we had pulled over and were waiting for their call. It became clear that they weren’t going to conference us in (they also apparently have difficulty calling internationally.) After about a minute of frustration and crankiness, John was over it – but I couldn’t seem to stop obsessing. I started thinking of all the things that we coulda, woulda, shoulda done differently to make sure that we were on the call. After awhile or realizing that I was the only one at the table obsessing (and this has been something I’ve been trying to actively investigate lately) I asked John what was up – why was he calm and collected and I was obsessing (it wasn’t even my call!!)?
He said simply “it all boils down to confidence. When I was in the shower this morning I made a decision that this meeting across town was not one that I should miss and I decided then that I wouldn’t be in the house to be able to make the call and I requested that my partners conference me in. If they decide not to conference me in, then it means that they didn’t need me on the call afterwards – or that I can fill in some blanks at a later time – or perhaps they’ll reschedule the call.” Duh…??!!! But in living it – it’s definitely not that easy for me.
I suppose that it goes back to that issue of guilt…I happened to be carrying around Jack Canfield’s book and looked Guilt up in the index and it showed up in a chapter titled “Transform your inner critic into an inner coach”:
“Guilt happens when you think words such as should, must, ought to or have to. Here are a few examples: I ought to spend more time studying for my bar exam…I should spend more time at home with my kids…I have to exercise more. As soon as we feel like we should do something, we create an internal resistance to doing it.
“You will be more effective if you replace guilt-tripping with phrases such as I want to…It supports my goals to…It would be smart to…It’s in my best interest to…Guilt is never productive. It will stand in the way of achieving your goals. So get rid of this emotional barrier to success.”
This whole idea of making sure others are taken care of regardless of how it leaves me reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about parents who put their children’s needs above their own or their spouse. Ultimately when you continue to do that – what is left to “give” to your children is less than because you are depleted. You are actually jipping your kids of your full self when you put their needs ahead of your own. They went on to say that it should be Self – Partner/Spouse – Kids. (Obviously if your kid has a pencil sticking out of his neck or something and it happens to be during your meditation time…you know what I’m saying…;)
Anywho…I’ll leave you with a quote and a challenge:
Seen on a poster