Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
By: Rebecca Liston
I’ve been pondering lately just what it means to me to be “of service.”
Some of you may recall a story I told years ago about listening to my beloved teacher and mentor, Lori Wilson, speak about “being of service” and “living a life of service.” At that time, I recall with precision that I was revolted by this phrase.
“Really,” you ask, “You were REVOLTED? Such a strong word.”
And, as is always the case, strong words suggest something deeper, don’t they.
So, let’s dig a bit.
At that precise time, while I didn’t fully recognize it, I was actually feeling pretty “used up.” I was in my early thirties. I was not in a healthy partnership (to put it mildly). I had a newborn. I was trying to keep my business afloat (while having just had a baby). I had just been diagnosed with strep throat and had to take an antibiotic (which, as a homeopath, was a Big Deal…plus I was breast-feeding so…you get the picture).
I had no space for Self, dear Reader.
Not. One. Ounce. Of. Space.
And so…the idea of “living a life of service” did indeed cause me to feel revulsion at the time.
And now I know why:
I was ALREADY living a life of service to all and sundry. The idea of being of service to one other person of any kind was Too Much for me to even contemplate.
And we all know why I felt that way:
I was living a life of service to all and sundry, yes, certainly. All, that is, except one very important person: My Self.
In the (many) years that have passed since then, I have come to recognize that the very essence of Who I Am is to be of service. It is my Core Driver. My “raison d’être”.
But I was only able to embrace that when I had the epiphany that I had to be of service to my Self, too.
And this is not easy for me, friends.
It ebbs and flows.
Sometimes I am excellent at it.
And sometimes I am not.
Being of service to one’s Self looks different for everyone, of course, and for me, it’s about so much more than self-care (that over-used term that seems only to smack of bubble baths and pedicures…although I do like both of those very much!).
For me, being of Service to my Self looks like taking a moment to check in with Self before saying “yes” to anyone else. How do I feel about this, really? Am I just blindly Being of Service because it’s Who I Am, without considering the impact on my Self, or is this truly and deeply what I actually desire to say “yes” to?
Does it feel good in my body to agree to this?
Are my own needs being met in this moment? And if not, am I truly okay with that?
Does it feel like I am over-giving / over-doing / over-reaching / over-anything in this moment?
Does this feel unsafe in any way? Do I feel in any way that I am being manipulated or taken advantage of?
These are but a few of the questions I ask my Self when pausing to consider requests / opportunities / options.
And, as I’ve said, sometimes I am really good at this. Sometimes, not so much.
But it feels to me like the greatest shift that has occurred for me since those rough days in my early 30s is quite simply the recognition that I could ask my Self. That I needed to ask my Self. That I deserved to ask my Self.
And it feels to me that, for those of us who share this deep desire to be of service, that may well be the greatest shift of all.
From my heart to yours,
Rebecca Liston is cofounder and business intuitive at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. She specializes in anchoring folks in a clear-eyed understanding of which path is theirs for the taking. She’s got one foot in the land of the subtle and unseen, and the other foot firmly planted in the land of ruthless pragmatism. Oh, and she swears like a sailor, which makes us love her more.
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