Attend To Your Corner

I think
I was raised to try to do it all. I had a responsibility to everyone I met, and to all the causes I heard about it.  It was my job to make a difference in the world and to say yes to every "ask" that came my way. If there was a need I must find a way to fill it.  And for this, I and everyone around me would be happy and content. I would be loved

Why I was given this message isn't really important at this point. It was simply a part of the era I grew up in and the very religious community that surrounded me. There was no room for self-care or picking and choosing where you made a difference. You were expected to be completely selfless, even it if drained you dry.  Fortunately there has been a change since that time. A growing body of work has confirmed how important self-care is to our health, AND our ability to help others. 

So where does this leave us? We want to be of service. We don't want to see others suffer. Where do we focus our efforts? I have increasingly answered that question with the words, "In my own small way." Recently I read a passage that was credited as an old Native American legend. It shared of a hummingbird putting water on a forest fire one tiny sip at a time.  The moral at the end spoke of the same truth. We are not responsible for saving the world or solving anyone's problems. We are to simply attend to our corner. 


This lesson was one that had hard consequences for me.  There have been several times I stepped in to try and solve issues when it wasn't my place. I did not have the knowledge, skill or clarity to be of service. When I finally realized I was over my head and tried to step back, it wasn't received well. I had to put on my big girl panties and face the resulting tsunami of anger. Life lessons are not always easy. In fact, they are usually hard in some way.

I am
still in a place of trying to listen to my heart for guidance on my place in the world.  What is my role and where am I meant to step in and be of service?  My heart whisper can be distinct and clear once and awhile, but almost inaudible other times.  Regardless, I make the effort. Every time an opportunity arises, I try to pause and ask, "Am I meant to do this?"  Unlike in the past, I now absolutely do not commit unless I feel a firm yes to that question.  Period.  

This goes against everything in my upbringing. It isn't comfortable to even pause. And if I get a clear no, that is even harder. No is hard to say to anyone, especially someone in need. One of my mentors helped me deal with my resistance by telling me if I step in when not guided to, I am taking the place of the person who is meant to step into that role. That knowledge helped me make the change.

After that I started to picture life as a jigsaw puzzle. We are each a uniquely formed piece of the bigger picture.  To try to jam ourselves into a space we are not meant to fill means the puzzle won't come together and the image will be distorted.  We need to be sensitive and listen as we are guided through life, and let go of any guilt that arises when it is not our need to fill, or problem to solve. 


All this
is so much easier to say that do. I struggle all the time trying to balance my desire to help someone suffering with my heart's guidance as to when I am the person meant to step in.  Letting go of the pressure and guilt takes lots of practice.  Meditation, yoga and long walks seem to help me let go. If you struggle with this as well, you'll need to explore best helps you the most.