May 30, 2021
Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Janki Patel always put herself last, until she couldn’t hold herself together any more. Guided by a set of simple principles, Janki shares how she was able to build herself back up.
Have you ever given great advice to others but never followed your own? That is the story of my life when it comes to self-empowerment.
It stemmed from my people-pleasing behavior. I was the kid who constantly needed approval for everything. Then, I became the teenager who wanted to put everyone first before herself. Eventually, it became about living through and for others.
People-pleasing sounds great but it’s far from it. You come off as this noble knight, but there is just darkness beyond the armor. It’s a way to run away from problems, emotions and sometimes your own life.
It took a lot of time and some rough experiences to realize that it’s crucial to be confident in myself, my choices and my abilities. I always feared I would come off as self-centered if I spoke up for myself too loudly or made decisions without consulting anybody. I was also scared to hurt those around me. It was difficult for me to give myself importance . . . it almost felt wrong.
I think the scariest part was concealing it all so well that no one had the slightest clue. Eventually, I hit a breaking point. I made impulsive decisions, I nearly dropped out of school and every part of me felt empty. I am a firm believer that sometimes we need to hit our lowest point to wake up. And I hit mine. Hard.
This was where self-empowerment came into play. This was when I realized that I have full control over everything I choose. It was when I wanted to spill my feelings and cry my heart out.
My breaking point was when I heard my niece’s first cry. I was right outside the hospital room and my knees buckled. I sobbed helplessly, overwhelmed. It seems strange, but that was it. That was my moment. I felt like I had a chance.
I took it upon myself to figure how I could begin a process of empowerment. Here are some ideas that helped me:
- Forgive. It sounds simple, but it was one of the most difficult things to do. It’s easier to feed yourself with negativity than to own up to mistakes and believe you will do better. However, forgiving yourself is very necessary because it is one of the ways you can allow yourself to move on. Does this mean all my actions were justified? No. But it did mean that I could learn from them and make better choices thereafter.
- Talk. Sometimes I think there are several reasons why people choose to internalize over speaking to someone about their feelings. One of them might be that we never learned how to. So, one day, I just did it. I spoke to my family about everything I’d been feeling in the past few years. I remember feeling so nauseous moments before, but once we had a discussion, I felt liberated.
- Do. If overthinking were an Olympic sport, I’d always win gold. It is one of the biggest reasons I never took positive risks and left my path empty. I still experience it, but I don’t give it full control. Now, I focus on doing things. I tell myself to take one chance, to try something just once, and go from there – bite-sized goals if you will.
- Become friends with yourself. Will I ever be able to fully accept and be confident in myself 24/7? Not a chance. It is practically laughable. Sometimes I will be as stale as bread. But my point is, treat yourself with kindness, respect and care as much as you can. Think of how great of a friend you are to someone, and now imagine giving yourself the same treatment. It will go a long way.
Self-empowerment is broad, personal and sometimes even scary. It does not happen overnight, but a gradual process is possible. I will continue to struggle with it every day, but that breaking point opened a world filled with little bursts of happiness for me. Living my life through and for others no longer makes sense to me.
It is still about gaining approval . . . but from a friend I’d been neglecting for too long. Me.
How would you describe yourself, as your own friend? We’re just asking because we think you’re awesome and we hope you do, too! Meet up with us on our community platform, or in person at a Conscious Connections group!
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