I read a heart-wrenching social media post today about a single mum who was battling for relevance. Her kids had been out for a weekend with the family their dad had created after divorce. She was eloquently lamenting her battle between playing the un-needed martyr and being ‘the bigger person’ who can celebrate the joy of new and fulfilling experiences for her children. She articulated clearly that battle and I admired her ability to pause, reflect and think through her pain.
I felt that battle. I have lived that battle; I still live that battle – as a step mother, as a step child a few times over, and as a busy, travelling mother who allows our youngest to be brought up and ‘parented’ by our extended tribe. Being the bigger person is a term that I have used for many years that means to not sink into the game, the fight or the deep well of martyrdom. It describes the choices we can make to let it go or let it heal and it’s the tougher decision to make. Playing the oh poor me, nobody loves me card is easier; it has predictable and safe results because we’ve done it so many times before. We know the outcome, even if it hurts.
Playing the martyr keeps us stuck in the past, on a mouse-wheel of “what about me?” If we truly wanted to know about the real “me”, we would pause, reflect and really make a conscious choice to go one way or the other. And the funny thing is it doesn’t matter which way we choose, as long as we really choose and own it.
Futurists of today (is that an oxymoron?) like Michael McQueen tell us that we should always be looking ahead, but planning today where we will be in two year’s time so that we can keep up with the rapid change the world is experiencing. In two years many of our small concerns will have evolved or dissolved, depending on the choices and energy we give to them. Our children will be older and will, as my social colleague put it, remember either the loving, letting, laughing us, or the griping, grasping, greedy us. Putting it like that, it’s not a tough choice, really.
The Dalai Lama said that it is the Western Woman who will heal the world. I believe he means the archetype of this woman, embodied in men and women alike, all across the world who will take the time to pause, engage their wisdom to reflect and think and take the power to make the conscious choice to be the bigger person for the good of all.
What will you choose next time you feel “what about me?” coming on?