Several years ago I read a sentence that stood out to me, “We’re being good to ourselves when we help others, and when we fill our lives with pleasant and rewarding activities” p. 91 March 31, One Day at a Time. When I read this sentence I was reminded to watch my motives. As I thought about these two ideas, I had an awareness. Over much of my lifetime, I practiced people pleasing and approval seeking so that I could OK with me.
I allowed other people’s validation to drive me. What they thought of me was more important than what I thought about myself. Subsequently, I found myself (figuratively speaking) trying to take other people’s temperatures to determine how I should feel and what I should do. In the process, I became a human doing rather than merely being. Serving others became a part of this self-defeating behavior. Service became another way to seek validation. Through being consumed by others opinions, I found myself mentally, physically, and most of all spiritually depleted. Consequently, I had little time or energy to explore the idea of a pleasant or rewarding activity.
Through my pursuit of personal empowerment, I have discovered two very important lessons. First, in the event that I am helping others with expectations or specific outcomes attached I may become resentful. Instead of helping, I perpetuate unhealthy behaviors such as control and manipulation. When I am operating (consciously or unconsciously) in this mode, I am setting myself up to feel victimized, which in turn can only foster a martyr mindset. If I find myself holding onto a resentment, I need to check my motives. I need to ask myself a question. Was I attempting to validate my worth or value through doing rather than giving? If my answer to this question is yes, then I need to learn from my experience. Reality has shown me that giving without expectations keeps me from falling into the trap of premeditated resentments.
Secondly, “finding pleasant and rewarding activities” can be turned into a chore. If achievement has become the goal to qualify my worth and value as a man, then I have lost focus. If I am driven to produce or perform then I am unable to benefit from any pleasant or rewarding activity. Additionally, I have discovered that pleasant and rewarding activities are meant to enhance who God created me to become in this life. Pleasant and rewarding activities now enrich and rejuvenate my ability to use my gifts, talents, and abilities. Consequently, I am experiencing a new freedom because I am following my bliss. Work becomes play and labor becomes fun. I no longer need to be driven to produce or perform.
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