By Sheryl Mallory-Johnson
Too often we girls sacrifice our desires, our passions, our purpose, and our voices. As nurturing beings, we are conditioned to believe that showing up for everyone else’s life is more important than showing up for our lives. As a result, we feel drained by those who manage to suck the life out of us.
This “spiritual erosion,” does not happen overnight. It is a slow chipping away of inner-selves, day in, and day out until we realize we took a wrong turn, somewhere, somehow.
So, when does our spiritual erosion commence?
- When we are burgeoning teens, eager to be liked and relevant?
- When we meet the man of our dreams (or our nightmares,) and marry him?
- When our first child is born, and we fall madly in love?
- Or is it when we set out to conquer the world only to realize our place in it?
It’s hard to pinpoint when we lose our way.
When I think back, I recall distinct periods throughout my life when my spiritual erosion started, primarily when I put my dreams on the bottom shelf to make room for someone else’s dream up top, tolerated more than I should have and wimped out when self-expression could have been my liberation.
You see, I was the altruistic one, the giving friend, sister, daughter, wife, mother, and neighbor; the person people could count on for support and inspiration at a moment’s notice. I wore my benevolent heart like a badge of honor, believing all the while that my self-sacrificing would pay off someday, that people would realize the error of their ways, value me more, appreciate me more, love me more in the end. I would even imagine myself stretched out in a casket while the beneficiaries of my generosity poured out tearful salutations from the pulpit. “Here lies a loving, caring, kindhearted women…”
And then I woke up!
Sometime around my 30th birthday, I came to the eye-opening conclusion that something imperative was missing from my life⎯me. I made a pact with myself then and from that day forward to put self first or at the very least make an earnest attempt to do so. No, I did not disregard the needs of those I loved, or anyone else’s needs; I simply chose “self” whenever my spiritual health was at stake.
My next step was to live purposefully and passionately. Some years later, I discovered my love for writing and my love for helping others find their passion and purpose in life. Once I embarked on the pathway toward greater love for self, I had a greater desire to help others and felt less burdened, less taken for granted and could draw energy from my own well when my cup ran over.
I still have my moments. We all have them, but they are just that, moments that come and moments that go. If you would rather stay in bed than to face a new day, if you do not feel your best and want to look your best, if life frightens you more than inspires you, and your tears lay beneath the surface of your eyes, ready to fall at the slightest provocation, your spiritual erosion may be setting in.
“What if I don’t have a passion?” you might ask. Allow me to reframe your thinking. Everyone is passionate about something; we are born to be passionate beings full of boundless possibilities. Somewhere along your journey, you forgot to keep your flame burning.
Here are steps you can take to rekindle your fire:
1) Learn to say, “NO” without fear of consequences. “No” is a powerful, freeing word when you use it to your advantage and not to your disadvantage.
2) Learn to say, “YES!” Saying “yes” will open doors and introduce you to new adventures and uncharted potential.
3) Start “ASKING” and stop waiting. Too often we are afraid to ask for what we want in life. Begin by asking God for your heart’s desire. He sees the big picture and will point you in the right direction.
4) DREAM BIG! There is no safer place to explore your passion than inside the mind. You have to start somewhere.
5) PUT YOUR PASSON TO THE TEST. You don’t have to be the late, great Whitney Houston to sing or Misty Copeland to dance. Partake in Karaoke night or sign up for a dance class at your local community college. Explore every opportunity available to you to feed your soul and feel alive.
Keep in mind, passion and purpose are energy sources drawn from the universe. When we are passionate about what we do and are living purposefully, we are energized. Conversely, when we do not use the life God has granted us, to our fullest and greatest potential, we wind up feeling used and sometimes abused.
6) REPRIORIZITIZE YOUR TO-DO LISTS, adding “self” as your number one priority. Begin by starting your day with prayer and meditation, morning exercise, or watching the sunrise while sipping your morning coffee or tea.
Your life belongs to you. Don’t give it away or waste it away.
So, the next time you are in a self-compromising, self-sacrificing, self-victimizing situation, put yourself first. I guarantee the people who truly love you will not love you any less. If fact, the more self-love you give, the more that your needs will be met and respected by others.
There isn’t a magic age to start loving yourself more. It’s never too late. Start now!
I wish I could say that I’m no longer innately and conditionally, “woman.” I cannot. But I can now say that I understand the greatest comprise of all and choose “self-love,” above all.
I was inspired to write this blog after watching too many of my beautiful sister-girlfriends come close to losing out on the greatest love of all.
Sheryl Mallory-Johnson writes stories that reflect the human experience. Her latest novel “The Hand She Played” (WanaSoma Books), a gripping romance, suspense tale, is available in all on-line stores. For more information, visit http://www.sherylmallory-johnson.com
The Greatest Compromise of All-Self-Love by Sherylmallory-johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.