Unpacking: Irrational Guilt
Clip by: Adrienne Houghton on The Real Daytime Talkshow
Today we're addressing those "butterflies" a lot of us feel after saying "no."
I grew up with a heavy church background which partially influenced me to believe that my life was blessed to be a blessing to others - almost to a fault. As a child, you think and ration as a child. It made sense to me that as I received things, whatever was excess, I give right back. Sharing is caring, right? Charity, selflessness, giving to the Church, and giving to others were drilled into my head. What I was not taught as heavily was self-care and that there are times when you indeed need to be selfish. No one taught me about healthy boundaries.
Now, I’m a strong empath. I naturally gauge what others feel even if I can’t pinpoint specific thoughts or problems. Naturally, my scale is tipped to address others’ needs. That’s my gift. I have a scientific and creative brain so my skills of problem solving and observation are unique. From a young age, no one taught me how to harness that. In fact, often I felt my gift was exploited by adults who didn’t know how to let me be a child and not overwork myself. I was always inclined to say “yes,” to a task and there was no one there to teach me how to say no. I was hyper-obedient, and always an asset wherever I was without much complaint. Through the years I learned an unhealthy church-social-family-work life balance that I thought to be normal. It wasn’t until I witnessed other dynamics that I knew I missed out in some areas. I often thought my life to be “not as bad” as my peers so much that I wouldn’t speak out if something made me uncomfortable or was harming me. To cope, I thought to myself, “other children have it worse, the least I can do is give back, give my time, give ______.”
Church and work and even family and work often blended - so much so it affected my relationships in terms of thinking I had to work for love or had to give something whether it be my time, skills, or money, to receive genuine love. It gets deep. It took time to unpack and unlearn that. I changed environments. I go to therapy. That process alone is work.
The final breaking point was me being tired. As I mentioned in PACKAGES Three: Stripped, I'm in a new season of my life now. I'm married and have stepchildren. I have a very sensory-intense job in the medical field working long hours a day. I have a blog I'm solely responsible for. I had to learn that I had the right to say "no" without explanation to anything demanding my time, my mental capacity, my resources, and even my energy for the sake of my sanity. No one walks in my shoes, so I had to be assertive in saying what I can and cannot handle. I don't have everything, but I have enough for me and my family. At this time, I'm building. I don't have the extra to source out. I know I'll never hit new milestones for my family's sake if I don't learn to be wise with my resources in this season.
I'll give you a natural example since I'm on my Nature Girl journey. I planted Milkweed in mid-late July sometime. I got it from Sonny Panzico's Garden Mart where it had been dead-headed.
I spent the last few months carefully nurturing it because, for a plant, it was not cheap! As you can see when I got it, it was not thriving or performing to potential. Milkweed is highly sought out because it is the only host plant that provides nectar to Monarch Butterflies (which are now endangered) and provides leaves for their caterpillars to feed on. Not having Milkweed results in having no Monarchs. I specifically picked Milkweed as an addition to my Butterfly Garden for this reason. So from July to September, I would water, trim, fertilize, and love on this plant.
It is now above waist tall, blooming, and welcoming guests from Bumblebees, Love bugs, Ladybugs, etc. Everything except Monarchs. At first, I grew discouraged until I read an article on fall-migrating Monarchs from The Butterfly Lady - a gardening resource that I use. I am just waiting in anticipation to fulfill the sole purpose of planting Milkweed: to see a Monarch. I've done the work, it HAS to happen.
For a lot of us, we're a decision away from where we want to be. I could pray to see a Monarch Butterfly all I want but if I don't ever begin the steps of doing my part, how can I expect it to manifest? For the longest I made excuses of why I couldn't hit certain milestones that I knew were within my God-given purpose, and every time it was because I allowed myself to overextend in areas I did not have the capacity.
Let's say my purpose is to tend to this Butterfly Garden, and I have just enough resources to take care of it. It takes 15-30 minutes of my schedule a day. The physical resources don't break the bank, usually. It goes smoothly. Then let's say I take the same resources and try to divide them between two Butterfly Gardens of the same size and the same labor commitment. I either have to take time from something else in my life, or one of these two gardens suffer. From there, I don't reach a growth milestone in time, and I'm not ready for harvest.
I think a lot of times we don't realize how sneaky this is in our own lives with more important things - especially involving time commitments. A lot of times we don't always have it to give like we think if we always find ourselves not completing tasks on the backend. You have to be real with yourself and make some tough choices.
I know today that God does bless us. There will be times he does call us to sacrifice, and there will be times we feel led to bless others. However, most often we bless and help other people out of abundance. If you only have enough resources to sustain yourself and your family, then you won’t be required to put yourself in the hole to save someone else. God will never require you to make another person’s life better while you suffer. He cares about your quality of life as well. What good would it be to gain one person while losing another? He calls us to be wise with our resources and trust in him and not man.
Even in terms of blogging, although I greatly use things I’ve experienced as a point of inspiration, I don’t owe it to the world to share every single detail for the sake of fulfilling my purpose. Some things I will feel led to share, and some things are just for me and my healing. Each one of us has a purpose. Just as my Milkweed's main purpose is Monarchs, but it accommodates other insects as it can, you are to primarily work in your purpose and bless others as you can.
It wasn’t until I unpacked these irrational feelings of guilt to always run and save someone even in areas I struggle with myself, that I realized this guilt was never instinctively mine to begin with. I had to take my power back and unlearn people pleasing and a lot of other concepts that produced these cycles in my life. Although I am gifted, I've learned that where God is there is no confusion. In some spaces I will be called to use my gifts to fix, influence, create, etc. and in some spaces, I can just be. I am not required to be “on” all the time. I will know and feel the difference.