By Lorna Martinez Magill
Have you ever had someone ask you a question that made you pause because it hit you so much to the core that it made your eyes well up with tears?
I recently had this experience.
About a year ago, my doctor recommended that I go speak with a therapist to help me noodle through all the transitions I was going through. I had resigned from my job as a CFO, I was a recent empty nester, and my husband was dealing with some serious health issues. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and was not sleeping or quite honestly taking care of myself. I had been dealing with all of these issues for over a year and felt like I was getting more and more overwhelmed each day.
My dear friend and partner. Marianne was a therapist for many years in our town, so I asked her if she could make a therapist’s recommendation “for a friend” that was dealing with anxiety. She gave me a recommendation and luckily the therapist had an opening.
I can vividly recall the moment I entered my therapist’s office, as it felt like I was carrying the weight of the world. I looked around at my options on where to sit and I chose the far-right side of the sofa and couldn’t help but wonder, “What does it say about me that I picked this spot?” Seriously, Lorna, you’re unraveling, and that’s your very first thought?
My therapist and I immediately hit it off and I gave her an overview of why I was there to see her and described how I was feeling. I can still remember her commenting on how heavy I looked.
If you haven’t tried therapy, I highly recommend it. I’m someone who loves to talk, and while I have a supportive circle of friends, therapy provides a unique and safe space to delve into my true feelings and explore the underlying reasons behind them. My therapist is a great listener and frequently poses thought-provoking questions, often saving a real zinger for the end of our sessions. I’ve noticed that these questions serve as assignments for me to work on in the two weeks leading up to our next appointment.
I’ve been seeing her for close to a year and I have to say those zinger questions are what help me make the changes I need to make in my life, and they are helping me be the best version of me.
I’ve never given myself, nor did I have the time, to really think about my “why” and she gives me permission to think about me. I’ve also realized that self-care is essential to my well-being and it’s essential. Taking care of me is not selfish, but it is a necessity to be able to support others and to handle life’s challenges effectively.
Well, this past week as we approached the end of our session, my therapist took a gentle and knowing tone, saying, “I’m going to ask you a question that might bring some tears to your eyes.” Boy, does she know me, I’ve shed many tears on that very sofa, always in response to one of her thought-provoking questions. So, as I reached for the tissue box, I couldn’t help but brace myself for what was about to come.
Before I share the pivotal question, let me provide some context. Like many women, I tend to put other’s needs over my own. Although several years ago I would have said I AM NOT A PLEASER, it’s become clear to me that I do have pleaser tendencies. I’m the dependable friend you can rely on to help solve problems, talk through issues, or simply be there for support. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a shift – it was getting harder for me to consistently “come through” for others and increasingly challenging for me to maintain that level of support.
So, as I grabbed my tissue, she says “You are there to help others, but who “besides me” is there for you and genuinely cares and asks you “What do you need?” Yes, I immediately started to cry, and it wasn’t because I don’t have people around me that genuinely care about me, it was the realization that I do for a lot of people who quite honestly don’t give a crap about me.
Why, because I’m a frickin pleaser!
I’ve spent the past week thinking about that question and I am evaluating what I need to let go of so that I can focus on what’s important to me, because quite honestly, I’m exerting some good energy on things that are not helping ME live my BEST life and distracting me from doing the things that bring me joy.
What about you? Who are those people in your life that ask you “What do YOU need?”
Action Step: Take a look at your life and determine if there is something you need to let go of that is distracting you from living the life that is best for YOU.