Convincing Myself That I Deserve Happiness

For an awfully long time, in fact, it’s so long that I don’t remember anything different, I have always stopped myself doing things that would bring me happiness or a moment of what feels like selfishness.

I have been putting a much higher priority on task-based achievements or appeasing other people’s needs before my own.

The great thing about finishing a task (even if it ultimately makes me more tired or stressed) is that I can see the results and I’ve found that very satisfying.

An example of this, which I find myself doing before I realise it’s a detriment, is washing the dishes. I’m tired, I’d much rather just sit down and let them sit for an hour or even until the morning, but I could just as easily get them done and then not have to think about them. It seems perfectly logical until I notice that I’m letting resentful thoughts creep in. ‘I can’t believe I have to wash these dishes again’. My wife has told me, many times that she’ll do them, and I know that she absolutely will, but she already knows how to sit down and accept that they’ll be there after she’s taken time to relax and take time for herself.

Oh, and then there’s the lawn. It needs cutting and I’ll chastise myself every time I see it. I could just mow it and then it’ll look good. I know I’ve got other things on my list too, none of which are to actually sit down and read, or watch the show I’ve been looking forward to. ‘I just don’t have time to watch shows any more’.

I’ve even been getting up on the weekends and letting my wife sleep in. It seems only right that after her week of looking after our daughter, playdates, preschool, visits to the park, and everything else that comes with being a stay-at-home mum, she deserves to rest on the days that I don’t go to the office. Right?

But when should I be able to sleep in? Is it just part of the job that I get up when our daughter wakes up (hopefully after 6am but she makes no promises!) and keep her entertained, fed, and most importantly quiet so Mum can sleep?

The approaching advent of Father’s Day got me thinking about ‘My Day’. What do I want on my special Sunday. The day I’ve earned a day to do what I want, and will I actually let myself have it?

I’m writing this list as I nudge in my own ribs. I’m documenting and posting so that there’s no excuse or room for ‘yeah, buts’ or ‘I know I’m tired, but I just have to…’.

Sleep in – let my wife, who offers constantly to take care of me but I just can’t take the guilt of making her do it when she works so hard.

Ask for things – I deserve a coffee. I will get up and make anyone else a coffee or tea and do it gladly upon request, but I find it so hard to ask for one from someone else. If there’s something I want or need, I have every right to ask for it.

Replace my bike – Last summer my bicycle was stolen from outside my house, along with a tent and my hammock. Someone just decided to kit themselves out with everything they need for a great summer! Sure we say that ‘They needed it more than I did’, but it still stings. The $200 that the cheapest road bike costs is hard for me to part with, even though I’d happily swipe that away if it was for a gift for my wife or daughter.

Say ‘No’, or now’s not a good time – Usually, if someone asks me for a quick favour I’d get up and help, even if I’m halfway through having a meal or just about to take a moment for myself.

Being an ‘Accommodator’ and appeasing others before myself has gotten to a point where it’s become self-destructive. I’m getting over-tired, resentful of other people who get to spend time doing what they want, and depressed because I’m choosing to isolate myself and ignore the things that will make me happy.

I’m not sure how it got to this point, or how many times I need to tell myself, but I simply must put what I want first, sometimes. Sure, it’s easy to tell myself this, but with a child who doesn’t accept that she has to wait for Daddy to finish sitting down before I can play with her.

Or perhaps that’s part of it. Is it part of growing up to learn that it’s ok, a priority to do what makes you happy even if other people wait? Where’s the balance? A child doesn’t develop impulse-control until they reach about four years old isn’t concerned about work-life balance and prioritising self-care.

It looks like this will have to be a lesson for when she’s a little older and having to find time for spending time with her friends and working through the inevitable mountains of homework.

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