When we truly care for ourselves, it becomes possible to care far more profoundly about other people. The more alert and sensitive we are to our own needs, the more living and generous we can be toward others. -- Eda LeShan
Is compulsive behavior robbing you of joy? Do you say, "That's it! I'm not going to do this anymore!" Or, "Starting tomorrow, I'm going to do this every day!" But then the next time you're faced with the choice, you act against your intentions? I believe we all have specific areas in our lives where we struggle to do (or not do) those things which keep us true to ourselves.
We All Have Vices
Some examples may include: diet, exercise, smoking, biting fingernails, spending habits, and drug or alcohol use. Some other challenging behaviors may involve going back to unhealthy relationships, not getting enough rest, not standing up for yourself, not being consumed by worry, and cruising social media sites when we really need to be doing something else. (I'm guilty of several of those!)
We repeat self-destructive behavior again and again. Sometimes we switch vices or compulsive behavior/non-behaviors, but the end result is the same. All these unintentional behaviors performed (or not performed) repeatedly over time can leave us feeling so shameful that we no longer feel we made a mistake, but that we are a mistake. We become filled with self-hatred and self-doubt, lacking self-trust and short on hope that we can ever act in a way that reflects our true desires.
How could we possibly allow the greatness we have inside us to be fully expressed with a dark cloud constantly hovering over a corner of our lives?
When I Prioritize Me, I Will Be Free!
Too often, we are told to put others first. Care and compassion for others are great attributes to possess until they get out of proportion and lead to self-abandonment and self-neglect. We know when we're doing this to ourselves and inside, we rebel! The abandoned-self fights back to get our attention.
Just like some children resort to acting out as the only way they know to get attention, part of us starts looking for ways to sabotage our happiness in order to get our attention. That part isn't getting authentic expression so it needs an outlet, a release, or a vice. Compulsive behaviors only provide a temporary escape though, leaving us with the original problem of self-abandonment, compounded now with shame and self-loathing. It becomes a vicious cycle. We act out again and again and have a temporary escape from feeling bad, but we ultimately feel worse, so unfortunately, we do it again, still seeking relief.
Breaking Destructive Cycles
The only way I've ever been successful at breaking these destructive cycles is by making one seemingly insignificant decision to make a different choice. As I do this, I pray and ask for help to be relieved of the compulsion and to see through the seductive lie that doing this/not doing this will "fix me." I'm not vowing forever, just one right choice in that moment.
Strangely enough, one right action can give me just enough of a self-esteem boost to make another right decision. All the while I'm reminding myself what I really want, what I really value, and what my true intentions are for my life and day-to-day living.
Small Steps Lead to Big Change
With each small, seemingly insignificant decision, self-trust begins to come back. Self-respect starts to return. All of me begins to rise up, united again in purpose and intention. The greatness inside me can be more freely expressed without the shackles of shame holding me back. When I prioritize me, I will be free! Cheers to your inner freedom today allowing full expression of all the goodness and the greatness inside you!