“If I make one point in this book, I hope it is that the surest way to make ourselves crazy is to get involved in other people’s business, and the quickest way to become sane and happy is to send to our own affairs… Self-care is an attitude of mutual respect. It means learning to live our lives responsibly. It means allowing others to live their lives as they choose, as long as they don’t interfere with our decisions to live as we choose.”
- Melody Beattie from her book “Codependent No More”
Codependent. Enmeshed. These are terms I’ve heard from counselors and therapists — unfortunately, they were talking about me! I’m an empathetic, caring person, and in the past, I would dive so deeply into caretaking that I lost sight of me. Many people want to please others, and there’s nothing wrong with doing nice things for those you love. It becomes a problem when you’re continuously choosing to do what’s best for someone else and ignoring what’s best for you.
I once had a boyfriend who told me, “You’re such a giver, you make it easy to take.” Wow! That said a lot about him AND a lot about me. (If you’re a “giver” like me, you may have attracted people like this into your life. Be careful: there are some people who will attach onto you like a parasite and suck the life out of you!) I believe our relationships — with partners, siblings, parents, friends, colleagues, etc. — are in our lives for a purpose and can help us to learn more about ourselves. This statement was a wake-up call for me. I realized I had been looking to him and his approval to assess my self-worth. That is an impossible situation — I had to determine for myself what I valued and then live those values. Some people are in our lives to demonstrate to us that we aren’t valuing ourselves.
Melody Beattie’s book “Codependent No More” was one of the first steps in the right direction for me. It helped me recognize how to set healthy boundaries and understand that self-care is not selfish. You have to tend your own garden first — if you’re always tending someone else’s, yours will quickly become a mess of weeds and wilted plants. What small step can you take today to take care of you?