I've been hearing this phrase with ever greater urgency from fellow Boomers for a decade or so. When Chani, in a recent blogpost, argued that she tore up the memo that "told me I was supposed to have low self-regard and take crap from people," I felt some response larger than a comment was needed.
Chani complained about a woman who was talking endlessly about herself (another creeping Boomer affliction, but also seen at all ages). The woman was admittedly spitting out negativity best left unspoken: TMI. She had also committed the cardinal sin of showing no interest in Chani's life.
Sound familiar? Yes, folks, men and women are the worst people around. No one really cares about you; everyone, including you, is really concerned with self-gratification and survival.
We are all about "me." (Actually, younger people seem to be more about "duty," but that's another post.)
Chani's complaint that she has lived "consumed with the needs and wants of others," which in my experience is not that uncommon a refrain among women, misses the mark. Living for the needs of others is not self-effacing, it is self-aggrandizing and self-affirming.
The put-upon nurturer is in reality saying, "I am the only thing standing between these people and utter chaos." One of the big gains of motherhood and similar traditional roles that I have observed is that women who may have been self-questioning gain enormous confidence as "executives" in the lives of others.
No one does anything except for gain of some kind. The nurturer gets something from nurturing, or else he or she wouldn't do it. Maybe it is approval, a sense of importance, feeling that one is "good."
A change that sounds more appropriate to me than to tear up the memo, is to realize that doing what one is told is no longer appealing. The "oughts" of the past no longer make sense to us; there's nothing in them for us any more.
That's because all our time, from birth to death, has always been really "for me" and "about me." Let's not fool ourselves.