Queen of WAOPF
Once upon a time there lived a very unhappy Queen. She was the Queen of WAOPF…
I’m interrupting this fairytale to give you some background. For Lent, I commited myself to write a little each day. I intended this small act as an impetus to get back to work on my book which I have been working on for some time now (we won’t discuss for how long). As part of this exercise, I decided to use an inspiration card deck to guide my topic. My fingers nimbly touched over the edges of the cards in my Danielle LaPorte #Truthbomb deck. And boom! There it was again. For the second time in a row this week, I pulled the card that states “the only thing that you really have control over is your feelings”.
I think to myself, “Uh, not this lesson again!” Looking around to see if anyone was watching, I contemplated stuffing the card back in the deck. But here I am writing about the idea that “the only thing that you really have control over is your feelings”. I ponder about what I possibly can say on this topic that no one else has ever written or considered. “NOTHING.” My inner gremlin smugly confirms. I imagine me petting this smug lizard-like gremlin on the head, handing her a water bottle and gently telling her to go take a hike. Okay, the coast is clear so here we go.
Once upon a time there lived a very unhappy Queen. She was the Queen of WAOPF. Actually, I was that Queen: Queen of Worrying About Other People’s Feelings. It still says so in my iPhone ‘nickname’. Actually, it just says Queen. It’s a momento from having clever children who hack into my phone and tweak with my life. I liked the sound of it so it has stayed as such. Nothing is more delightful than hearing Siri respond, “Hello there, Queen” with an English accent. But back to the story.
Being Queen of WAOPF has it upsides. People were always telling me how nice and considerate I was. Rarely, did I experience a ruffled feather. My kingdom on the outside can be described as incredibly peaceful. Day in and day out as Queen of WAOPF, I might strive out of my way in order to appease all those around me. Making other people happy was my calling! It was my way to feel like I was valued. And, I was a very good Queen of WAOPF.
My days would be filled with me commanding things like this: Where ever you want to go for lunch is fine with me. What color do you think it should be? Yeah, you don’t think this looks good on me too? I’m okay with whatever you want to do dear. Yes, I think that she was certainly rude. I know, she is so annoying! I could be seen scurrying about taking on other people’s problems from the minute I awoke, working long into the night completely exhausted.
This worked for quite a while before I became aware that being Queen of WAOPF has a very, very dangerous side. I learned this the hard way. Being Queen of WAOPF made me very, very ill. Doctors and scientist diagnosed it as breast cancer. I prefer to call it something else: it’s a symptom of being the Queen of WAOPF. (Yes, I know that genetic cell mutations are common culprits of cancer because I studied pre-med biology in college. These days we are discovering more and more how poor emotional states in addition to environmental factors can also help trigger genetic tendencies but I digress.)
It was futile. The Queen of WAOPF could not make everyone happy. The impossibility isn’t because congeniality doesn’t work. Kindness is a virtue. Concern for others and endeavoring to help others are qualities that make this world a better place. Queen of WAOPF just didn’t think that applied to her. This is the curse of being the Queen of WAOPF. She forgoes kindness for herself, fails to tend to her own needs and ultimately suffers. She gets angry, she feels tired, she feels resentful and she feels unsupported. Ultimately, she feels she is never enough and is un-lovable. When she suffers, her kingdom suffers. This causes her to use her husband as a punching bag, yell at her children and resent that the people around her who don’t seem to care about her needs. It was a very sad kingdom in which to dwell.
The curse is not an easy one to discern. More often than not, the curse is a covert belief system that has been portrayed by parents or other trusted family members or friends. Seeing extreme self-sacrifice being modeled, rewarded or praised, we might be compelled to give it a try. Having been a Queen of WAOPF, I can easily see the signs when a woman picks up this crown. Perhaps she is miffed because she feels ignored by other moms at her children’s school. Or she complains over and over about how her husband never helps out. Maybe she even disparages a good friend for being crazy for going for her dreams. These are all signs that the sparkle as Queen of WAOPF has blinded you and taken over your life.
One sunny day as she lay sick on her bed, a little bird chirped to the Queen of WAOPF: “The only thing that you really have control over is your feelings.” “Wait, what-what?” She murmured. This messenger of God helped her to realize that she needed to be kind to herself. She needed to explore how she was not living her own dream. She needed to speak up for her desires! She realized that she had been ignoring and stuffing down her own long enough. It was time to quit worrying about everyone else and to start examining her own and managing her own feelings.
When Queen of WAOPF realized this, she started paying attention to her feelings and navigating her actions accordingly. Then something magical happened. Her kingdom, err, my kingdom became a joyful place to live. Rather than striving, I began to thrive. I’m still kind. I’m just no longer a doormat for everyone else. I find that the more I take care of myself and my feelings, I am better for everyone else around me.
Centering myself around my needs first makes me happier and more powerful than I have ever been. I recognize that my feelings are meant to be an inner guidance system. Through this act of paying attention to my feelings, I am setting a healthy example for those around me, like my children. Rather than exhaustively catering only to my family’s or others needs and stuffing down my feelings of frustration, I show them the importance of self-care as a parent and an individual in this world. Acknowledging one’s feelings and practicing self-care are expressions of gratitude and love for who you are. These are acts of praise for God’s creation.
It’s the magic spell that will break the curse: “the only thing that you really have control over is your feelings.” Want to rule the world or even just have equal footing? Forget about what others might think for a moment. What is one small thing you can do today that is kind for you? Do you need to say no? Do you need to stop the negative self-talk? The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder your world will become. Go on, give yourself permission. Be Queen of WAYOF, worrying about your own feelings.