Is it Selfish to Put Your Own Happiness First?

This is the question every woman struggling in an unhappy
marriage asks herself.

It’s the dilemma we wrestle with as we battle within ourselves
to figure out a way forward that will bring us some peace.

We have this internal conflict because we’ve been raised with
the belief that the answer to this question is Yes.

We believe putting our own happiness first by deciding to leave
an unhappy marriage makes us selfish.

A bad mother.

A horrible, self-absorbed person.

We are terrified of being judged in this way.

The Case Against Us

It’s no wonder we believe this.

Society and conditioning dictates that as women, our role is to be the nurturers. The carers.

We are the ones who look after and take care of everybody else’s needs.

Often to the detriment of our own.

Our needs, if we must have them, can be considered only after everyone else is happy and taken care of.

And only as long as they don’t upset or disrupt anybody else’s lives.

Leaving a marriage that has been making us miserable for years most definitely falls into this category.

So we tell ourselves we can’t leave because:

  • Our husband wouldn’t be able to cope emotionally
  • We couldn’t handle the guilt
  • Our kids would be heartbroken
  • Actually, our kids might be relieved, but they have important exams and we can’t disrupt their lives
  • Our husband isn’t a bad person, in fact he’s a good man, and we don’t want to hurt him
  • He hasn’t done anything really ‘wrong’ – i.e. he hasn’t beaten us up or had an affair, he’s a good provider, he doesn’t deserve it
  • Our parents would disapprove – they believe ‘You married for life’ and ‘You’ve made your bed, you’ve got to lay in it’ and we need their approval and support

On and on it goes.

Oh – and we are scared shitless at the idea of leaving.

Contemplating life as a single woman of a certain age is terrifying.

The thought of being a single parent is overwhelming (even though we already do the lion’s share of the childcare and running the home.)

And then there are the financial implications. Don’t even go there.

It’s just not practical.

And the mere thought of the emotional energy it would take is exhausting.

There are so many compelling reasons why it’s impossible to leave.

Reasons that, in truth, are simply our fears in disguise.

So we stay.

And we tell ourselves:

It’s not that bad.

It’ll be better next year.

Or in a few years.

Or when the kids go to Uni.

Or when he morphs into the person I want him to be.

The Biggest Lie

And we live the lie.

We avoid disappointing and hurting other people.

On the outside our lives look good.

The inside of course is a whole other story.

And the biggest lie we tell is to ourselves.

The lie that our happiness doesn’t matter.

The lie that we don’t matter.

The lie that it would be selfish to leave.

We Get to Choose

I believed for years that I wasn’t allowed to give myself permission to leave my marriage.

I believed my husband’s emotional wellbeing was more important than my own.

Until I didn’t.

Until the day I decided not to believe that anymore.

Until the day I decided to value myself enough to believe I was worth prioritising.

The day I realised I deserved a happy and fulfilling life. A life where I could live true to myself.

The day I finally understood that it wasn’t my job or my responsibility to take care of my husband’s emotions.

So many women find themselves in this predicament.

They tell themselves they are stuck and they don’t know what they want.

They go round and round in circles, getting nowhere.

When really they do know what they want.

They’re just terrified and in conflict with their own belief system.

If you can relate, read on…

Here are the 7 Steps to getting Unstuck:

1) Tell yourself the truth about what you really want

There is great freedom in admitting your own truth to yourself.

Because the truth always feels better than a lie.

You don’t have to act on that information immediately, or ever, if you don’t want to.

But there is real power in owning your truth.

2) Identify and uncover the thoughts, beliefs and fears keeping you stuck

What are you currently believing that is in conflict with what you want?

What are you afraid of?

Get it all out of your head and onto the page.

3) Put your beliefs under the microscope

Beliefs are not set in stone. They are simply thoughts we chose, consciously or unconsciously, to adopt as truths at some point in our lives.

For each belief that limits you, ask yourself if you want to continue holding on to this belief? Is it true? Is it serving you? What do you want to believe instead?

If you have a belief such as ‘marriage is for life’ ask yourself if you would apply that same belief to your child or your best friend if they were stuck in a miserable marriage.

Understand that your beliefs are choices.

You get to choose them.

4) Put your fears under the microscope. Use the exercise in this blog post to help you

5) Ask yourself if you are willing and ready to face and overcome your fears and to challenge the beliefs that are limiting you? Be really honest with yourself.

If the answer is No, that’s okay.

You may not be ready yet.

It’s a massive step.

Just tell yourself the truth.

And stop believing the lie that you are stuck.

6) If your answer to Question 5 is Yes, get the support you need from somebody like me.

Identify the first baby step you can take to move forward.

Then take it.

And the next.

And the next.

7) Give yourself permission to put your own happiness first

Stop waiting for other people’s permission and approval.

You’ll be waiting a long time.

The only approval and permission you need is your own.

Give it to yourself.

Then own it.

Want to Say Yes to Yourself and Need Support?

Do you want to explore if working with me is right for you and get some clarity on your situation? If so, I’d love to offer you a complimentary, 30 minute Mini Clarity Session.

To book your slot, simply reply to this email and let me know your availability to speak via Skype Audio in the next 10 days.

I’ll be accepting a maximum of five new 1:1 clients in November and December for Empowered Choices, Empowered Woman Programme at my current rate of £997.

In January 2018 I will be restructuring the programme and increasing my rates for the first time in three years.

So if you’ve been thinking of working with me – now would be a great time!

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