I started reading a brilliant self-help book recently which mentioned that it [self-help] was first documented back when Socrates was alive in 400 BC! I couldn’t believe that self-help is something that has been accepted/expected for such a long time, yet I seem to have been oblivious of its importance for myself for the last 31 years!
As with all the self-help books I’ve ever read it made me focus on what I’ve been forgetting to do and fills me with confidence that putting myself first is ok... And then five minutes after putting the book down, I’ll go and empty the washing machine (or something else that’s as equally mundane) and forget everything I’ve just silently committed myself to and carry on as I was; putting other people’s needs ahead of my own.
Part of the book encourages you to write down “times you’ve been bad at self-help” and “what has this made you realise?”… I had to be honest with myself and I wrote down: “1986-2018”.
I am seemingly crap at putting my needs ahead of others’. It’s something I battle with because my head tells me I am always being selfish and I do far too much self-help. Except I’ve come to realise that this thought process is actually my anxiety and self-doubt kicking in; preventing me from confidently just saying “no” but instead I’ll say “yes” and then spend hours/days/months trying to figure out how to avoid a certain situation that I just do not want to be part of.
To me it feels awful to be “selfish” and I don’t want people to judge me for it... Why though?! Who cares?!
A lot of people I talk to refer to me as being highly emotionally intelligent; “the ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour”.
Sounds like quite a decent skill to have doesn’t it? That is true but annoyingly for me, being really emotionally intelligent is only useful in certain situations (e.g. I can see why people might behave in a particular way in work).
Emotional intelligence is ironically accompanied by a imprudent list of problems. All those radar-like skills subconsciously running round in my head means I put other people’s needs ahead of my own. I can be more concerned about how uncomfortable someone else might be feeling and try to prevent that rather than think about how I might end up feeling.
Without realising or meaning to, I seem to absorb other people’s emotions as if they’re my own. It’s so draining.
But at least I’m aware I have this “ability”. Admittedly I’ve only recently realised how emotional intelligence sometimes impacts on me negatively.
I’m desperate to condense how much I do this and one of the first steps towards this is starting to say “no”.
So from now on if I say no to you or perhaps distance myself it’s not because I don’t care, because I really truly do. But I need to care about me too.