InaraShuttleIt is really common for people to do things ostensibly for the people they love. Parents stay in difficult, unloving marriages in order to provide stable homes for their children. Couples stay together because they assume their children don’t know the marriage is dead or unhealthy or abusive and are better off in a two parent home. Significant others change their hair, change their bodies, get pregnant, and go through amazing amounts of effort in order to enrich the life of their partner in various ways.  They do these things steadfastly explaining and justifying why by pointing at the positives that will accrue to the object of their actions all the while ignoring the fact that their words aren’t matching their actions. Their words indicate that the person sees clearly what is needed and is only trying to do what’s best while the actions show that they are manipulating situations to resolve their own fears and needs.

It’s as if they are having a conversation with their loved one while having their back turned to them. Or they are walking in the right direction, but backwards so they don’t see the effects of their actions until too late to do anything but react and wonder what happened. What makes this doubly hard is that even children too young to know why this is happening, can see it in action. Parents forget that children have no “busy-ness” distractions to keep them from seeing things, noticing discrepancies, and recognizing inconsistencies. They are learning machines who will learn that being an adult is about acting rather than authenticity as readily as they learn mathematics and their ABCs. Significant others either become weary of being patronized or they become co-dependent and our love over time becomes care taking.

It is true that in life we change when we are ready to change and doing it for others makes change conditional on them. However, if you are struggling to do what is best for someone else, it can be very helpful to recognize that you are what they need most. You healthy, you happy, you fully here in the now, and aware of yourself. In that way you can be completely present for them, not using them to resolve your own needs. So if you struggle with doing what is best for yourself because putting yourself first is too hard, then do what comes naturally. Put your loved ones first. Do it for them. At least it will be a start in the right direction.