Is This Serving You?

This is a question my therapists asks quite frequently in our sessions. “Is this serving you?” Is this relationship, is holding onto this idea about yourself, is pursuing this path, is staying in this job, is this thing — whatever it is — serving you? The question provides simple (note: not easy) litmus test when deciding on a course of action. If whatever it is serves you, keep with it. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to start the process of letting go.

At first glance this can feel like a selfish exercise. “Not everything in this world is meant to serve me”, you might say. We’ve all been told and taught that the world does not revolve around us, which is true. But too often admonishments like that have been used to fog our clarity in making beneficial choices for ourselves. Of course we need to be considerate of the people around us when we make a decision. But it does not serve the people around us to forego our own healthy judgement calls for their sakes. It’s the metaphors of putting your oxygen mask on before helping others, or being unable to pour from an empty cup. It serves others to serve ourselves, because without serving ourselves, we cannot serve others.

So when my therapist asks, “is this serving you?” it’s not prodding towards hedonism, it’s encouragement towards health. And sometimes it’s difficult to tell when things aren’t serving us  because they’re fun. Or we’ve been doing them for so long, the thought of letting them go is terrifying. But in the long run, has this action been helping? Is it getting you to a place where you want to be? When you picture your life in five years, is this pattern one that brings you closer to realization or further from it? Simple question, much more complicated to answer. But I encourage you to carry it with you this week. Hold as many thoughts or behaviors as you like up to its light. If there are things that are not serving you, see if you can gently, with grace, make an adjustment.