Honoring your needs when you don’t know what they are

One of the recurring themes in my treatment is taking care of your own needs first, rather than sacrificing them for the needs of others.  The purpose of this is not to be selfish, but to be a more complete person that is more able to be generous and kind to others.  This is something I’ve really been struggling with.  Not just because of a lifetime of making my own needs small and putting myself last, but because I don’t actually KNOW (at least not completely) what my needs are.  Or maybe it’s because my needs have always been wrapped up in what other people wanted and needed.  Either way I’m finding that I frequently feel bad, no matter what I decide.

I’m starting to think part of the problem is that my head and heart don’t want/need the same things.  My heart wants to be spontaneous and care-free, but my head needs to be calculating and cautious.  My heart wants to be able to ask for help and be supported, while my head insists that I am strong and independent and don’t need the support.  My heart wants to love deeply, genuinely, COMPLETELY but my head is determined to protect me from being rejected and hurt.  My heart wants to be intuitive, emotional, while my heart needs reason and logic and PROOF.  My heart wants to be the innocent child inside of me that doesn’t remember being hurt and trusts the world with her life, while my head cataloged all the things that ever made me uncomfortable and has valiantly fought to keep those things from ever touching my heart again.

My head is like an over-protective parent who kept her child locked away for fear she might get hurt.  But being locked away has also made the child unable to stand on her own and the slightest gust of wind might blow her away completely.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not why ships were built.”

The question of course becomes: how do you convince the parent that the child can handle the inevitable pain and heartbreak she will find in the world?  How do you convince the parent that the child can bounce back from the sadness and know that she is still loved, worthy of love and life will go on?  How do you convince the parent/head that the child/heart will have to go into the world, alone, unprotected, to have any chance at life and love and happiness?

You convince the head to release the heart from the safety and security of the padded box.  You prove to the brain that there is no need to worry, because the heart is the CO(u)R (latin root of the word) in COURAGE.  If the heart is the root of courage, then BY DEFINITION, it was designed to face danger, fear or difficulty with self-possession, confidence, resolution and bravery.  To give the child/heart a fighting chance at a life worth living, the parent/head must allow her to venture into uncertainty and simply promise to be there for her when she falls and remind her that she is loved.  She is worthy of love.  No matter what.  Simply because she was born.

courage

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