Now I’d like to come at it from another direction: What difference does it make to other people? How important is it that you include other people in your purposeful life?
Women are acculturated to serve others. Yes, there are some women around who seem to only be interested in themselves, but they are in the minority in my experience. As I wrote about in earlier articles from this series, most of us think of others first and do for others first.
Just as we are learning how to move away from self-limiting beliefs in how we take care of ourselves, eat right and learn to grow into more seasoned women, I think it is vital to look at how to truly focus on serving ourselves in our second half of life. And that means stop doing things to please others, impress others, serve others, or take care of others more than we do for ourselves.
If you have been reading my series of articles, you know I am currently 72 years old and still very involved in asking myself important questions about how I choose to live out however many more years I’m here. Lately, I’ve been facing some internal challenges, and in doing so, reexamining all of my belief systems.
This includes asking myself why I do things. Are my actions pre-programmed from my childhood? Do I want to fit in with a certain group of people? Do I really care what others think of me? If I did, would it really matter?
I started an organization in the Dallas-Fort Worth area called the Great Girls Network, formed with the premise that women don’t network like men. We want to build meaningful relationships, which is how we form powerful connections. Not based only on what we do for each other, but take into account how we feel and what is going on in our lives. One of our “rules” is no comparing, no competing.
That’s a pretty tall order because the whole world seems to tell us daily why one product, service or attitude is better than another! So, the idea of breaking away from comparing and competing is challenging, as we seem to be pre-programmed to do it.
What would our lives look like if instead of comparing ourselves to others and, whether consciously or unconsciously, competing with others, we truly lived from the inside out? What would our lives look like if our own inner voice was truly the most important one?
That would mean that our own desires and dreams could take precedence over those of the people we live with, work with, take care of and serve. That doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility. It means we’d base our sense of responsibility on what we feel our true purpose is. We would live according to our own why, not everyone else’s!
If we ask ourselves enough questions and question the world we have surrounded ourselves with, we could make some pretty dramatic changes in our lives. Most of us don’t take the time to do this.
What if you woke up each day and thought about these things, even for 10 minutes, instead of jumping up and immediately starting your routine? What if you took more time for yourself to reexamine your beliefs, your shoulds and ought-tos before you go into autopilot and find by the end of the day you’re either exhausted or bored, or both.
When I try to live by other people’s standards, values, belief systems and don’t listen to my own inner voice, then I’m living from the outside-in, not the inside-out. That’s where we, as women, have subjugated ourselves to a male-dominated society. Where making sure we stay attractive and pleasing to men can, for some, be a full-time job. Living outside-in is when we sell our souls to please others instead of ourselves. That’s where we do all our comparing and competing!
Are you struggling to find your inner voice? I suggest that you take a notebook and ask yourself a series of questions. Write down the answers to these questions throughout the day:
And that is the difference it could make to others. You could be a shining example of someone who lives with enthusiasm, inspiration and meaning! You could be a role model instead of a servant.
I still love the concept of Servant Leadership and actually apply it to all areas of my life. But I realized a while ago that if I’m serving others to my detriment, it is not actually serving them or me. It is sending the message that as individuals, we are only as important as the roles we play for others.
My purpose belongs to me, which is in my mind, a far preferable way to live and interact. I choose to live a purposeful life from the inside-out and hope that encourages you to do the same.
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