Since February, I’ve been creating monthly spreads (you can find these on my instagram highlights if you’re interested!), which include a word, theme, and mantra as well as what I intend to do more and less of throughout the month. Usually my intentions are inspired by my reflections on the previous month — what I’ve learned and what I want to continue to work on.
I knew the month of July was going to be very important month for me, since it is technically the only month of the summer (and the year for that matter) in which I am completely free — no work, little responsibility. It’s also my birthday month so it feels a little more sacred to me! As I reflected on what came up for me in June, I focused on an interview I had with one of the leaders for Path of Love Retreats. It was an intake interview for those interested in going on one of the retreats; they ask you questions about yourself and why you’re interested in their work.
During the interview, the woman asked me “What do you want? What do you hope to get out of this retreat?” Something about this question made me cry. Someone asking me what I wanted, not the other way around, felt so comforting, so caring. I wasn’t used to being in that role — of someone creating space for me, allowing me to speak my desires and dreams into the world. I realized as I was trying to express my feelings that I hardly ever feel like people create that space for me but I often try to create that space for others. I realized I wanted to have that space so badly — I was craving for someone to give it me, secretly hoping someone would. Here it was.
I cried as I talked about how often I feel like a caretaker, how I’m focused on others, how depleting my job and family could feel to me sometimes. As she listened, she nodded with validation. When I was finished, she said, “It sounds like you want to have more ownership of your own life.”
Just like that she had spoken the words I had been looking for to describe the feelings I had been harboring for years. That’s it, I thought. I want to have more ownership of my life.
Suddenly this theme was everywhere. It popped in my head as I was having conversations with parents, when I was making decisions, when a friend invited me to an event I didn’t want to go to, when I was feeling badly about my body — it just kept coming up. So I decided that would be my focus for the month: taking ownership, being the authority. (I can’t help but think of Kate Winslet’s character in The Holiday when she realizes, “You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life for God’s sake!”).
So I journaled about what this would like — how exactly would I plan to take more ownership? What exactly did I need to take more ownership over? Well, I’ve been learning throughout this year of boundary-setting and self-care that being in charge of my time and protecting my energy are extremely important — and I’m still not the master of these skills, clearly!
I’d also been thinking a lot about how I make decisions, how I determine ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ especially when the things I consider to be ‘right’ end up hurting me so much and those I consider to be ‘wrong’ could actually benefit me. For example, being selfless is ‘good’ and being selfish is ‘bad,’ at least I thought. It was very black-and-white thinking, stemming from how I was raised. Yes, this understanding makes me such a kind and thoughtful person but it also damages my wellbeing if I am too selfless. There’s a lot of unlearning I need to do — and a lot of redefining my beliefs.
Finally, after a particularly tough body-image day (if you know, you know) I was reflecting on where the concept of my body image even comes from. It’s always external, it’s always coming from an outside perspective. It usually doesn’t come from how I feel within my body (sometimes it does but not usually). It made me feel like I had even given away my own self-image to others — letting society, the male gaze, friends, family, etc tell me how to feel about my body instead of feeling it and experiencing it myself. I wanted to shift the ownership back to an internal experience of my body, taking back the ownership of how I see myself. And so, I will spend time this month working on owning how I feel and experience my body from within.
So, here we are! A month of taking back ownership of my life. Each week I will focus on one aspect of life I plan to take back, starting with my time. If there’s one thing that is important for those who are people-pleasing, it’s spending time away from people — spending time alone! I secretly always want to be alone; it’s how I take a break from caring for everyone else, to tend to my own needs, dreams, desires. I usually feel bad saying ‘no’ to others or feel like I owe my time to my loved ones if they want me to be there. But here is my first boundary I’m setting and sticking to: I need alone time everyday.
Each week I will be sharing resources I’ve found that have helped me and creating/sharing some self-care freebies on my blog that relate to stepping more fully into these areas in my life. I hope that if you identify as an empath, people-pleaser, or struggle to create boundaries with others, that you follow along with me this month so we can learn from each other!
Thanks for being here!!