Updated: Sep 7, 2022
The old mindset: My well-being used to depend on things that were outside of my control. If my husband gave me what I needed, I was OK. If not, I was a mess. If my husband sided with my mother-in-law, I felt destroyed. If my husband took my side, I felt great. I would go on the scale - if the number was lower, I felt great and had an amazing week. If the number was higher, I would be in a bad mood and take it out on my family. As much as my husband gave to me, I always wanted more. Nothing was enough because it was all external; I had no internal control over my own well-being.
I didn’t even know what I wanted. It was much easier knowing what I didn’t want. I wasn’t tuned in with myself enough to stop and realize that I may have just needed a small break from my responsibilities. I looked outwards, expecting my husband to guess what I needed and give it to me.
This is how it would play out: My husband and I are campus shluchus and I was busy 24 hours a day because I could not stop giving. I didn't realize that I was neglecting myself, I didn't know what I wanted and needed, and overall, I was not giving myself space to stop and breathe and assess how I am doing. My husband would come and ask me if we could host a student and I would immediately blame him for not recognizing that I’m overwhelmed. How dare he not see that I needed to stop? How dare he add more things to my busy list? I blamed him for neglecting me, when in truth, I was neglecting myself.
The shift: Taking ownership of my well-being meant realizing that no one else is responsible for what I want or need! I can't expect someone else to anticipate whether something is too much. I need to find that out for myself, within myself, and take responsibility for me. And, it is ok if it takes some time to figure that out!
The difference it has made: Now, whenever I get nervous or overwhelmed, I can stop and think: What do I need right now? What do I want right now? What can I do right now? And it’s okay if I have to say no to hosting a student in my house today because I am very tired. At the same time, I also began to take ownership of my shlichus! I dreamed about going on shlichus my whole life and I wanted this! Getting in tune with my well-being only supported my shlichus! Once I did that, I stopped feeling like a victim to my shlichus and was able to experience the wonder of it and how meaningful it was to me. Now, when I “need” to host 30 people for Shabbos, I can make it easy and enjoyable for myself and see it as a contribution to me. When I need to say no to hosting, I can do it from a place of honoring my well-being instead of resentment, and when I can host, I am honoring my values and what I want to contribute. It’s a win-win! Today, my husband and my shlichus are no longer a threat to me because I know what I want and need and I am taking care of myself. When I am in tune with myself, I can let my guard down and see everything in my life as a contribution from Hashem to me.
- Written by: Devoiri Greenberg
*Reminder: The stories shared here are not about the particulars, but rather a mindset shift that made a difference.