I became a bigger “Swiftie” this weekend. (For those saying, “Huh?”, a Swiftie is a Taylor Swift fan! 😃) My wife and I watched Miss Americana, a new documentary about Taylor Swift. The theme of the movie was so in line with my last post about people-pleasing and anxiety that I couldn’t help but write a part 2 to last week’s blog!
Watching this film, I was filled with joy as I witnessed Taylor Swift’s focus shift from endlessly trying to align herself with the outside world to aligning with her own inner compass. Her experience in life changed as she stopped trying to be a certain right way for others and began to follow what felt most aligned for her.
She talked a lot about always wanting to be a good girl as she was growing up. And about being a hard-core rule follower. I can relate. And I bet others can, too. Always trying to be good, do the right thing, appear the right way, say the right thing, and please others at all costs. But do you notice where your focus remains when you’re navigating life this way? Always outside you. When your goal is to make everyone else around you happy, YOU get left out of the equation altogether.
When you put the needs of others first, it often leads to disregarding your own needs. Self-care starts to feel impossible. And guess what else often pops up during this? Feelings like resentment. I bet some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You know those times when you give and give and give and your needs stop mattering. The giving feels so good at first that it might even give you a little rush. For a while. But then different feelings start to sneak in and you begin to feel resentful or sad that no one even notices that you’re tired. Or that you are upset. Or that you are hungry. Or that you have other jobs you are also doing. Or that you don’t have any time to have fun the way others do. Or…the list goes on.
Your mind starts searching for how to fix this. You play over imaginary conversations in which you finally speak your mind about the unfair expectations others are putting on you and how others are treating you. You promise yourself you’ll do better with self-care, but inside, you know it won’t happen or if it does, it won’t last.
It’s pretty wild to realize how often this experience starts with simply trying to be a good person in the world and follow the rules. But as I mentioned before (https://dremilycolwell.com/the-surprising-antidote-to-your-anxiety/), when people-pleasing comes to rule your life, it’s often driven by a deeper fear that you aren’t good enough.
So what’s the solution? Is it simply that you need to start feeling good enough? Or that you just need to start doing better with self-care? Ha! Like any of that is easy to do when you’re already filled with anxiety about all the ways you aren’t measuring up!
What if it turns out the antidote to this anxiety has been perched inside you all this time, just waiting for the moment it can show you an easier way? In fact, this is true.
You want to know the absolute best part of this news? It means you can STOP working so hard to try and be better at self-care. It means you don’t have to fight against your anxiety, resentment, or sadness to get relief.
In fact, those feelings are frequently clues from your inner compass, offering you guidance toward relief from the hard in your life.
I work with so many clients who come in feeling exhausted from all their giving and people-pleasing. They’re anxiety abounds with all the ways they don’t feel good enough. And they’ve tried like hell to fix the outside of their lives so that the inside feels better.
But guess what happens when these clients and I work together? Relief starts to feel more possible. They notice themselves feeling more peaceful in their lives. Their friends and loved ones also comment on this, and notice that they’re laughing more. The volume on their anxiety turns down, but more importantly, their experience with their anxiety transforms.
So are you ready to pull a Swiftie and shift your focus from endlessly trying to align yourself with the outside world to aligning with your own inner compass? Are you aching to feel the peace and joy that invariably accompany this shift? Is it time to stop working so hard to successfully do self-care and instead have your self-care happen with more ease?
If your answer is “HELL YES!”, let me help you find your way back to your own inner compass, where the antidote to your anxiety is quietly waiting for you. I work with people in person and virtually so click the “Let’s Chat” button and let’s jump on a call. We can dive into what this process could look like and how I can be a support to you. I’d love to connect with you…
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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