I’m a tough woman. I think anyone who knows me would agree with that. I don’t put up with things that bother me. I speak my mind. I say “no” all the time, and I rarely say “I’m sorry.” I figure out how to get what I want. I can be inflexible, argumentative, opinionated, dominating. Geez, I sound undesirable. Where was I going with this? Oh, right…I’m a tough woman.
Tough women don’t serve people. They ask the world to serve them. I married a man who took care of me without question, and did everything I asked him to do without protest for the 16 years we were together. I put myself through a top university, got every job I ever applied for, and managed to knock down every major goal I’ve ever set for myself. For most of my life, it’s been me against everyone else. I’ve been forging the uncharted territory of the world by myself, and have been able to cultivate relationships that have served my needs. I’m not heartless or evil, I’m just intrepid. And I’ve seen myself as a solo navigator of my life’s path.
In a recent session with Michelle, I expressed some concern over not being totally fulfilled by my work as a brand strategist at an ad agency. It’s not challenging enough. I’m not being as creative as I’d like to be. Our clients aren’t asking for the kind of work I want and deserve to do. I was restless and bored and maybe feeling a tad unappreciated. I wanted her opinion and guidance about to achieve the things I was missing in my job.
“Serve the people you are working for,” she said.
Excuse me? I thought. Did she just advise this tough woman to serve someone?
“Serve the people who are paying you. Ask them what they need from you and serve them. Whether that’s writing an award-winning article or sweeping the floor. Be of service to them.”
Clearly she had misunderstood what I was asking for. I wanted to know how I could be fulfilled, not how I could become a doormat. I am bored. I am not appreciated. I am a creative being who is being deprived of an appropriate outlet. Me. Myself. I.
Regardless of my quiet protest, which I know she felt, she kept pushing me to understand what she meant. She went on to explain that by being in service to others, you actually create infinite possibilities for your true purpose. The energy of serving others puts you in a constant state of expansion, which provides steady energy – not the energy of competition that I had been thriving on. The focus on me, me, me is exhausting. It has a trajectory of winning and losing, which creates great highs and lows. True service, that done with an open heart and asking nothing in return, is the only path to the fulfillment I was missing.
I pondered this for a minute. Service. I tried it out in my heart, imagining what it would feel like to let go of what I want and focus on helping others get what they want. It felt good. It felt wide. It felt like I already gotten what I wanted, in a backwards sort of way. I had some instant sense of peace and fulfillment and faith. I was instantly motivated by something new and the inspiration felt soft and sure, not anxious and grasping like it usually does. My toughness didn’t even feel threatened, it felt relieved. I felt like I didn’t need to fight to get what I want, that I could somehow get it accidentally by opening up a new channel in my soul.
And I became humbly aware of how others have served me in my life. I put myself through school, but I had also received a small fortune from my grandfather to help get me started. I had gotten jobs I wanted with the willing assistance of important contacts in my field of interest. Even though my marriage ended, my husband had helped create a life for me that was easy enough so that I could focus on my passions and he never tried to hold me back. Even though he may have wanted to. I started to see that this solo path I had been on was lined with people handing me the things I needed to keep going – whether it was sustenance or a high-five. It turns out this tough girl had been served all along her way.
So, I came back to work with a singular motivation to serve. I asked my boss what I could do to help her, and I meant it. I was more productive, happier, and instantly fulfilled without trying. I let go of the image of who I thought I was striving to be, and embraced a new idea that I was already that person. My energy is steady, I take on each new task with excitement, and my creative drive is cranking on a new fuel: service.
I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt, and I no longer need to be tough.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or “tapping” is a tool of radical, instantaneous healing used by traditional therapists, medical professionals and alternative healers on everything from weight loss to trauma to disease. The technique works with the ancient principles of acupuncture to influence the body’s subtle energies and address root causes of pain, illness and addiction. To learn more or to participate in a group tapping session, click here.
Abby Harper Slate is a San Diego-based writer and blogger. All of the views and opinions expressed here are her own. You can contact Abby at www.abbyharperslate.com and read her travel blog at TrackingAbby.com.