Me Me Me and The European Cup
This blog goes out to all those people whose house has been invaded by the European Cup, to all the football widows, all the mums with sons who just don’t get what it’s all about but watch it anyway, to all the brothers, sisters, dads, uncles and grandparents who feel like they can’t escape the fact that Wales won 1-0 and that England are playing Russia and should win 2-1 (according to Eldest son).
I want to tell you about what I’ve been working on: a project called ‘Me, Me, Me’.
Whoa. That sounds really selfish right? Even worse…this project; ‘Me, Me, Me’ is targeted at women. Women aged between 35 and 65; just the time in a woman’s life when we’re raising kids, looking after parents, supporting partners and still working. Women who want to focus on their well-being but feel like they never have the time.
Just the time when we’re worrying about who will pick the kids up from school when you have to work late, or how you will manage to get one kid to football whilst also helping the other one with homework without screaming at either, or when you find yourself watching football so you can connect with your kids. Then just as your kids get more independent, your parents seem to need more time. You find yourself helping them with paperwork, accompanying them to hospital, popping round to cook for them.
I spoke to a colleague the other day who was leaving work and going straight around to her in-laws to cook dinner and dispense medicine before running home to cook dinner and do the ballet run with one of her kids. She looked exhausted.
- What have you done today to look after other people?
- What did you do to take care of yourself?
And that, folks, is exactly why this project is called ‘Me, Me, Me’ because it’s for women and we want women to put them selves first, at least some of the time.
So much of our social conditioning encourages women to be the caretakers. There may also be a biological basis for this too as research has shown that girls who are exposed to higher levels of testosterone (the male hormone) in the womb, are less maternal which implies that men, with their higher levels of testosterone are less biologically wired to care-take than women.
Anyway, here’s the thing, no matter whether we were born or made to be caretakers there are times when we need to put ourselves first. Don’t we?
Come on, admit it, aren’t there times when you are seething with resentment at all you have to do and don’t you too have that ‘it’s not fair’ voice going on in your head? Or is it just me?
It might just be me who can be a right bitch when I’ve run around after everyone and then yet another pair of shoes is in exactly the wrong-and-they-all-know-better-but-they-just-expect-me-to-pick-after-them place? Or do you too sometimes scream, whine, complain or glower in stony silent and greet all responses to ‘You OK?’, with a kurt ‘yup’ when what you actually mean is: ‘No! I need a break!’
Oh…so it’s not just me then.
- When was the last time you had a rant? What did you say or think?
- What triggered it?
We could learn a lot from our ‘less developed” cousins. I use that term ironically. It is reported that Native American women were allowed time out during their period:
‘Menstrual huts were also big amongst the Native American tribes. During the heaviest four days of their period, wives would leave their homes and go to this separate menstrual lodge to commune with other women. Since women tend to mense together, these lodges were often quite full and the women inside we encouraged to engage in some serious “girl time” by discussing female issues and indulging in creative pursuits like storytelling and arts and crafts.’
How lovely would that be? A few days off duty and a bunch of women to hang out with?
You see honestly, I don’t believe we are meant to live alone, we’re just not. We’re tribal. We survive best as a group but we forgot that when the industrial revolution brought us in from the hills and when Thatcher told us there was no such thing as society, just the individual. Pah.
Sisters can do it for themselves, but we can do it with more ease and pleasure when we do it with people who care for us too.
- Who do you have around you to support, care for and share your life?
As you’ll know from my books, my mum is dead and when I see grandparents at the school gates I just get such a pang. Some of it is sadness that she missed my kids and they missed her, but some of it is sadness for myself, that I missed sharing parenting my kids with her. I am envious of people who have close family around them.
But not all of us do.
So ‘Me, Me,Me’ is that tribe, that place where you can go to get your needs met.
Is it selfish? How can it be? The better we look after ourselves, the more able we are to look after others. Yes of course I would throw myself in front of an oncoming tiger to protect my children, but that would be just the once. We’re not designed to do that daily, our loved ones need us alive and kicking.
When I’m internally ranting (and on a really bad day I might even say some of this out loud) I’m doing more harm than good. I am damaging relationships, destroying trust and self-esteem and putting myself through the cycle of rage and remorse which fills me with shame and feeds my ‘I’m not good enough’ script.
What I’m getting better at is noticing one of these rants brewing and I use it. I turn it around as I know that my rant is a projection, it is me looking to the outside world to find answers when really, more and more, I know that the answers are inside me.
So when I hear myself thinking ‘you all take me for granted’ I turn it around and see ‘I take me for granted’ and I do. I discount all that I do in a day and so do more. When I hear this one coming I write a list of all that I have done that day and I appreciate it.
- How do you take yourself for granted?
- What can you appreciate about yourself today?
When I’m telling myself ‘no one looks after me’ I turn it around and ask myself what I can do to nurture myself and care for myself, whether by having a hot bath, or phoning a friend.
- How could you take care of yourself today?
When I catch myself saying ‘No one cares about what I need’ I turn that around and I see ‘I’m not caring about what I need’ and so I simply (but oh so powerfully) ask myself what I need and then set out to meet that need for example I might negotiate time out for myself.
- What do you need today and what will you do to meet that need?
When I rant ‘I’m so tired and I can’t take a break’ I turn that around to ‘I am so tired and so I need to take a break’ and I just do it and miraculously the world doesn’t end and nobody dies.
- What unrealistic expectations do you have of yourself?
And all that is about ‘Me, Me, Me’. And the internal work that I do on Me, Me Me has positive external effects on the people in my life.
So yes, the project is called Me, Me, Me because as Ghandi said, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’, and I want a world full of love, compassion, empathy, wisdom, patience, tolerance, forgiveness and kindness…then I’d better start with myself and so had you!
ps..I’m the agony aunt..so send in your problems now! Also if you are a well-being business or practitioner there is a directory which you can sign up for free for at the moment and which will get your work out there
Pps..I’ve also been putting together the following Free Ebooks (just click on the links)
- How to be LessStressed: From Survive and Strive to Revive and Thrive
- Getting over the End of a Relationship: Relationship Recovery
- Domestic Abuse: how to get support for people living with it
Ppps..here are other places you can read my stuff
- Psychologies Magazine LifeLabs
- For teachers and schools: SecEd, Innovate Your School, SchoolWell and Staffrm
Enjoy the football!