Superheroing is something we learned to do.
Many of us learned to fly with our capes on before we could even walk. Keeping the peace and keeping people happy mattered to our own survival and so the needs and wants of the people around us came first. Often we were at the mercy of these people (and their moods) and so our own needs became tied to making things easier/better/happier for others. Their happiness equaled ours, their upset equaled ours.
Today this need to take care of people in order to have ease and peace for ourselves has persisted and we don’t know how to stop doing it.
We wear our cape under our regular clothes most days and often we forget to take it off before we go to sleep at night. Its constant presence makes our genuine needs feel inconvenient to our superhero way of life. It’s a dilemma for sure, It feels bad and selfish to take care of ourselves because we’ve spent a lifetime worrying about the needs of other people. We were praised for our ability to bring ease/peace/happiness to others. We were loved for it. We felt like we belonged because of it.
But eventually, you realize that the cape is beginning to strangle you.
Most of us come to a place where we realize that our needs are falling through the cracks and we’re having a hard time hiding the evidence of our suffering. It’s hard to get things done for ourselves. Things are piling up and we’re starting to really resent the people who continue to ask us for things. We notice the ones who don’t seem to appreciate all that we are doing, especially the ones who ask for our help and then don’t make sufficient use of it!
I know this place well and from time to time I still struggle with this.
I’m a caretaker by heart. I am hard-wired to care about your needs over my own. There were times when I honestly felt it would be easier to run myself into the ground than it would be to say “no” to someone else. I could imagine hacking off my own arm easier. But much later, I came to understand that it was never really about my fear of saying no to people, it was always about my low self-worth. I was scared to make space for myself because I didn’t receive the mirroring early on that told me I was a precious gem and my needs mattered. Because of this, I learned to get my value by taking care of the needs of others.
How do you know when it’s time to take off the cape?
There will be a common denominator vibration to the stuff that keeps happening; you’ll see this pattern you do of ignoring your needs while you continue to press on with the other things and you’ll realize it is wreaking havoc. What we resist has a way of persisting, doesn’t it?
Common circumstances calling for us to take off the cape:
Repetitive chaos and drama.
Repetitive resentments, grievances, upsets.
Life will not give up on you, and so you will continue to find these situations coming up in your life. You aren’t being punished, you are being given opportunities for healing and growth. It’s up to you to see it this way though. I was the one who felt constantly upset, aggrieved and resentful. I learned to treat these vibes as my early warning indicators that I was wearing my cape again. Don’t blame the situation on anyone else because you will end up putting the possibilities of change outside yourself. When we blame other people for our suffering, we make our freedom contingent upon their actions and we end up remaining martyrs, victims. I know we don’t mean to do this, I know we don’t.
It’s time to acknowledge that there is an inner journey you need to do.
Life will continue to give you what you need to help you wake up to this. No worries about that! You’ll keep running into situations that are really begging you to take the cape off.
As a kid, I loved to practice the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning at school we’d say it. I’d put my hand on my heart. It was so serious and beautiful and I always felt like I was making a sacred vow to myself when I’d say it. Today, whenever the “Homework” feels hard, or scary, or completely impossible, I place a hand over my heart and I remember myself. It’s something I do in earnest. A promise and a solemn vow. When I have something hard to say to you, I place my hand on my heart before I do it. Most of the time, I continue talking to you with my hand in place.
I’m inviting you to take this pledge too. I know you are important and worthy and your needs come first. I know it’s important that you have a life you love and you know you are deserving of every good. Put your hand on your own heart, feel it beating. Make your own promise to yourself – borrow my pledge, or write your own:
I pledge allegiance to myself, I promise to be true and loyal and to love myself. To have my own back–even when it’s scary or feels tricky, even if I’m afraid people will stop loving me.
Sending you much love, you got this!