Feb 04, 2022
4 mins read
I am so incredibly fatigued by the conversations around "putting ourselves first" because they're old, tired-out, wrung-out, they've sounded the same for many years.
But if I'm honest, I admit the conversation is important nevertheless. Most of us are a funny little miasma equal parts self- and other-serving, at times incredibly self-absorbed and at other moments abdicating our own interests thoroughly and habitually. Some of us need to carve out some space from self-absorption, to stop centering our own narrative as if we're the only ones going through this shitshow called Life. Some of us need to give ourselves more credit: we may benefit from a gentle but piercing look at the ways and means in which we've been throwing ourselves away.
Like the (also oft-trod analogy) peeling of the onion, I make new discoveries. Usually recognitions that, in hindsight, seem obvious. For instance: I truly did not realize that in making a major personal change a little over a month ago, it would shift my heart and open me up to new things. I'm not claiming "new year new me" or even saying that by liberating myself from something that was causing me harm, that somehow I'm more Me, happy joyous and free and all that good stuff. No - I make a more modest claim, and it is this:
When we struggle for days (months, years, decades) in indecision, we create our own personal Hell. We may look functional on the outside and we may indeed accomplish much and have some joy - but inside we are congested, miserable, curled up around a hard, cold and slimy little stone causing us grief.
Most of us don't struggle with a difficult decision because we are flaky, or bad, or weak. We struggle because we want to do the right thing, we don't want to misstep. And it's to our credit to care, and it's to our credit to make decisions with the proper analysis - to consult with our spiritual and ethical mentors. It's to our credit that we are not rash.
But if we tarry too long we get miserable, we become self-absorbed, we start telling ourselves stories. We start pretending we don't have a choice.
Those are agonizing moments (or days, months, years). And yet when we make a decision, as hard as it was to come to that decision, we release the desire for a better past.
It's over. It's time to move forward.
I am moving forward.
I am putting myself first by taking a yoga teacher training - something I've wanted to do for about a decade. I am putting myself first by remaining inert to would-be clients who pressure me for my work. (They can get on my waitlist, and wait their turn, and if I'm willing and able to do their work I will!) I'm putting myself first by being honest and open about my season of grief - without apology. I'm putting myself first by writing my thoughts here, with clarity and intention to help, and because I have a voice and I deserve to be heard as much as anyone else.
The art of putting myself first isn't always grandiose. I've no private space to practice yoga in my home - a home filled with energetic human beings (especially my partner, who fills many rooms with his vibrancy), a home filled with kitty-cats and spilling over with four artistic and impassioned careers. Instead of feeling sorry for myself that I don't have this perfect space, I made a Pretty Good space. I asked my partner and oldest child to move a dresser out of the bedroom, and I set up a lovely parcel on the floor, and I found a little lamp light pleasing to me, and now I clean and tidy this space daily. This took a bit of my planning and effort, and now I spend about ten minutes of my day maintaining this parcel. I honor myself and my practice by tuning in to this little bit of self care.
I put myself first by not requiring perfection. I'm a busy homie and I make a lot of little mistakes on the regular - and sometimes, I make big ones. The times in my life I've cared about perfection - that I've heeded those few nitpickers or haters, the times I've felt scalded with embarrassment for my failures - those are the times my Creativity suffered the most.
I won't let myself down like that anymore.
I put myself first by taking care of my body and my home and my relationships, as best I can.
I put myself first by never acting the Martyr. When it arises within me I take the Martyr script into my hands, I have a look, I laugh, I cast it into the wind with joy. See you, sucker!
I put myself first by letting my partner make this little sandwich for lunch, and by thanking him for this sandwich, and eating it and feeling glad I have food to eat.
I put myself first by choosing to move forward.
Moving forward feels good.
What are you ready to move on?