It strikes me that this idea of generating our own warmth is the secret to happy relationships – with our spouses, our children, our friends, work colleagues.
Let’s face it – relationships are our greatest teachers. No relationship is easy all the time. They’re not supposed to be. Relationships are mirrors we put up in front of ourselves that reflect back who we are and what we most need to learn right now. If we look closely into this mirror, we will learn valuable lessons.
When we find ourselves feeling taken for granted, depleted and resentful, we often blame another person for our discomfort and dissatisfaction. But what we’re missing is the crucial ingredient in happy relationships. When Elizabeth Gilbert talks of generating your own warmth, she likely means taking responsibility for your own happiness first and foremost. Nourish yourself and your own needs so that you feel strong in yourself. Then you have more to give.
When we are strong and grounded in ourselves, we don’t put pressure on others to make us happy.
Instead of blaming others when we feel low, we could see these feelings as warning signs that we are in need of “warmth”.
Who Are We Really Resenting?
When we are feeling depleted and resentful, who is it that we are really feeling resentful towards?
Have you thought that you might be angry with yourself? Because completely sacrificing our own needs is selling ourselves out. It’s a betrayal of yourself.
And the little child inside you gets really angry about this. She screams “What about meeeeeee?!”
We hear this scream and look to blame others. Yeah, what about me? What have you done for me lately?
But how about instead of asking this of those around you, you ask yourself? What about me? What have I done for myself lately? Is it really any wonder I’m exhausted and resentful when I spend all my time looking after other people’s needs and continually ignoring my own?
Learning the Hard Way
I learned this lesson the hard way myself. And I continue to relearn it!
I used to be pretty good at nurturing myself. But becoming a mother was a huge learning curve for me. Without even realising what was happening, I went into unconscious Irish Mammy/martyr programming! Over time, this meant that I got more and more resentful that everyone else seemed to be suiting themselves and having their needs met…but me. It took me a long time to learn that no one was going to step in and save me – I had to save myself.
And saving myself meant investing in myself. Remembering who I was. Leaving the house and doing the things I used to love to do. I would come back renewed and happy. In turn, the happier energy I was now bringing to those around me nurtured all my relationships.
Taught to Sacrifice Ourselves
As women, we have been socialised into sacrificing ourselves for others. We believe that is our role. If everyone around us isn’t being looked after by us, then we have failed somehow as women.
But the world is not served by depleted, secretly-angry women. Every relationship in our lives suffers when we don’t generate our own warmth first and look after our own needs. It’s not selfish to think of yourself. In fact, it’s selfish NOT to think of yourself!
Your partner is happy when you’re happy (just ask him/her!). Your children are happy when you are happy – nobody wants to spend their lives around a martyr. Your work atmosphere even changes when you take a lunch break…and allow others to do the same.
It is your duty to make yourself happy….right now! Please give yourself permission.
So if you are feeling exhausted, depleted, resentful or angry towards those around you, please see this as a huge alarm bell calling you to look after yourself first. How can you stop sacrificing your own needs and generate your own warmth instead?
5 ways I am attempting to generate my own warmth
(in case it helps you with inspiration!)
- Daily meditation
- Spending time with friend/s
- Time to myself while my husband minds our daughter
- Doing work I enjoy, rather than working just to pay the bills
- Yoga/dance classes
- Reading more and watching less TV
Let me know your thoughts on this!
Are you in need of ‘warmth’ right now? What one thing can you commit to doing each day to brings you joy and light you up? Do you think looking after yourself creates happy relationships?