“After you give so much of yourself to people over the years, one day you wake up and realize that you need someone to give to you too.” ~Sylvester McNutt
One of the biggest surprises I found on my self-care journey was how lonely I started to feel in the process, especially when I started to set boundaries with toxic people. At first, this loneliness had me questioning myself. I thought there must be something wrong with me, because I thought I was supposed to feel good and strong instead of scared and lonely when I did “the right thing.”
Honestly, most days the loneliness was so big it felt like healing wasn’t really worth it. After digging a little deeper and doing some research I discovered I wasn’t alone in this feeling, and there is a key reason why loneliness is so profound at the beginning of a self-care journey.
Due to a variety of childhood circumstances, I had developed a personal identity that revolved around making others feel seen, heard, understood, and wanted. My whole sense of self was tied into how others felt about themselves.
I was really good at showing up for people, listening to them, meeting their needs, and ensuring they felt seen, heard, and comfortable. It initially never felt like a sacrifice to me to do this, and when it did, I was proud and honored to sacrifice my own needs and wants to make others happy.
While developing this ability to “see” and love on others isn’t inherently bad, it does become a problem when this is not balanced with the ability to also allow others to “see” me. It honestly never even crossed my mind to allow someone else to do something for me. When people would offer to do me a favor or help in some way, I would always decline their support.
Accepting was way outside my comfort zone, and I would make up all kinds of excuses to be sure I didn’t need anyone else’s help or support.
Over time, these one-sided relationships always break down. We aren’t meant to only give or only receive, so when these relationships start, resentment, frustration, and jealousy always develop too. Sometimes it takes years and sometimes it takes days, but it always ends with both parties feeling taken advantage of and frustrated.
If you are someone, like me, who tends to show up in relationships to give and not receive, then when you set boundaries and try to create healthy relationship dynamics, it will feel lonely and boring initially.
This is because we have developed an identity based on how we can make others feel. If we can make them feel happy, accepted, wanted, loved, and taken care of, then we feel happy, accepted, wanted, loved, and taken care of. We convinced ourselves (subconsciously) long ago that we didn’t actually need to feel all those feelings for ourselves, we just needed to help others feel them.
When the lie that we don’t need to be seen, loved, taken care of, or wanted, is taken away, we will feel a strong sense of loneliness and boredom initially.
Why? Because you can’t develop a new, healthier, sense of self without taking away the old first. If you don’t take it away, there’s no room for the new, healthier version of you to grow. We have to step away from the pattern of over-giving, and only give in order to make room for the receiving part of us to grow.
It is in the space between not repeating old patterns but before our new patterns have developed that we feel lonely, and often bored. Being aware of where we are in the healing cycle is critical, because most people feel that loneliness and go right back to their old patterns saying, “It didn’t work.”
My challenge to you is to stick with it. This concept applies to all change, really.
Have you ever tried to lose weight? How do you feel in the first month? Bored, frustrated, lonely, tired, and all in your head about how much it sucked.
Most people then quit. Most people decide it isn’t worth it because they can’t stay focused on the long-term gain. Those who stick with it start to feel good. They start to see the scale drop, clothes fit better, and friends comment on how good they look. Once they start experiencing the rewards for the pattern change, they’re motivated to stick with it.
It’s the same concept here. Knowing that you are done with unhealthy relationship patterns where you are constantly taken advantage of, you’re over-giving, exhausted, and feel invisible all the time, means you are ready for a change.
Keep this why in the forefront of your mind as you navigate the first steps of change that will be tough. You are dropping the old pattern of just giving, but you don’t yet have the new pattern of receiving in place. When you develop your ability to receive from others, loneliness is gone. Not just that, but life is far better than you ever could have imagined.
Allowing people to truly see you, know you, and love you is an incredible gift. It also means you will attract other people operating on a much higher vibration.
You will no longer attract people who only want to take from you. You will attract people with an equal balance of giving and receiving and life will feel good. Relationships will feel good, and they will stand the test of time because they will be healthy and balanced.
If you are doing the right thing and feel lonely and bored, keep going. There is so much life on the other side.