When I was in this workshop that focused on using emotions for the advantage of improving one’s confidence and energy level, I was able to verify something about myself. I truly live for the sake of wanting to make people feel good about themselves.
The activity goes like this: we were told to stand up and separate into 2 groups. There were 2 rounds. The first round is that our group had to walk around slouching our backs, looking down, and avoiding any sort of conversation that the other group (while they were walking with confidence, smiling, putting their chin up, and greeting everyone they meet) initiated. The roles were reversed for the second round where our group gets to become the confident ones. We were then asked about our confidence and energy levels after every round. Everyone’s answers made sense in a way that most of them had either a higher level of both criteria. I did not raise my hand because I was not sure what I felt during the whole session. My energy levels were almost the same and even somehow at some point, went below that my starting point.
What’s the reason behind this? At first, I really did not understand but after reflecting on it, I was able to fully internalize why I had such reactions.
I did not want anyone to feel different than what I was feeling and this is most true when I am happy. Whoever I am talking to and surrounded with, I want them to either feel as happy as I am or even better. I was having a conversation with my brother the other day about this same topic and it’s really great to hear someone else’s perspective because it wakes you up from where you’re stuck at. I was stuck at thinking that “why would I want to be so happy when the people around me are not satisfied with where they are? Am I not responsible in going down to their level and finding a way to raise their spirits?” My brother instantly responded, “No.”
I was a bit annoyed at first because me, being a big humanitarian, did not believe that there is such a thing as being more privileged or blessed because I knew that everyone had a flaw so each individual deserves accommodation. This may be true in some sense but when my brother said, “I am surrounded by confident people and seeing them inspires me to be confident as well. If they had gone down to my level then no one wins. When they show me the better way of living, which is through assertiveness then it’s a win-win situation. I get to be as confident and they don’t lose theirs.”
I am still digesting this fact that is not too common for me. I grew up in environments where people really depended on me to improve their lives. In elementary and high school, I was the one who was good at Math and taught her fellow students to keep on track with all the lessons. In swimming training, I was the eldest of them all so I was looked upon to become a role model, a nurturing big sister and an understanding competitor for her fellow team mates. At home, I was the eldest among my siblings and therefore, was tasked to teach her siblings, take care of them, and was responsible for their performance both at home and in school. I should not say that it was a burden to carry but at some point, it did become one because I exhausted all my energy towards bringing people to their highest point that I was not receiving enough from the people around me. They expected me to have enough and unfortunately, I did not have enough.
It is hard but I find it ingrained in myself.. the need to understand everyone even if they don’t need to be understood. My plate is full but I tend to sacrifice my own happiness in order to satisfy someone else’s. It can be tiring but I must fight through this. I need to keep my kindness but at the same time, respect my own serenity and identity.