This sounds funny, looking at what I have titled this. Sounds so contrary to everything I have been taught and here I am. In public. Out loud. Saying it. I have an online friend who even has her blog entitled “It’s All About Me!” and though it sounds like she’s being cutesy by calling it that, it really is all about her – and, why shouldn’t it be?
I have a pillow. Yep. That’s it. My Mom bought it for me during a really hard time in my life where I was in need of constant nurturing. It says, “It’s All About Me” – and, again I ask, why shouldn’t it be?
I’m the most important person in my life and I say this without regret or ego. It is a fact that if I do not take care of myself to the best of my ability I will fail as a human being. This means I am more important than you to me. If you think this is a selfish idealogue I have absolutely no problem accepting that. But I bet you do.
I bet that if you’re the type who will have a hard time accepting that, you have a lot of regret. I bet you’re feeling resentful and pissed off at me; Probably called me a name or two and a few “How dare she?” ‘s thrown in for good measure. Makes yourself feel better to tell yourself I’m self-centered because then you can go on about your business of catering to everyone in your world, making sacrifices after sacrifices to people you know deep in your heart, and all this – killing yourself – is justified. For a greater good and because you love so much, you tell yourself. Or because you have to, you tell yourself. Or even more desperately, “I have no choice. I haven’t the luxury to put myself first.”
Bananas. Yeah I said it: Bananas. If you don’t put yourself first at least once in a while, you’d be dead. Let’s go extreme for this point: How dare you eat? Don’t you know you could be putting someone else’s needs ahead of yours? So you eat to stay alive and as a result, can still put others before you. Okay. So you’re surviving.
I don’t know about you but my life is going to be more than surviving. My life is going to be my life and this means more than fulfilling the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Though I’ve modified the original hierarchy to include the Transcendence level, Self-Actualization used to be the top.
In the flavor of the Boddhisatva, or the crown chakra, or heck, even the 12th step of the 12 Steps where we extend our hand to others, we can’t do that if, for example, we have yet to self-actualize [much less received our oxygen].
This diagram is at it suggests. Every base level sets the foundation for the next level. If I lack appropriate sleep or food, I will not worry about achieving an “A” on a test. If I am not getting enough to breathe, I will not worry whether I have “protection from the elements” tonight. If I fear that in the next hour I am going to be executed, I will probably not worry whether you would want to have lunch were I to survive. And, to self-actualize, to grow in understanding of my self will not be a priority – or even close – if I’ve had no water, or am not safe, feel unsafe, or feel alienated, or worthless.
Maslow’s Self-Actualising characteristics
- keen sense of reality – aware of real situations – objective judgement, rather than subjective
- see problems in terms of challenges and situations requiring solutions, rather than see problems as personal complaints or excuses
- need for privacy and comfortable being alone
- reliant on own experiences and judgement – independent – not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views
- not susceptible to social pressures – non-conformist
- democratic, fair and non-discriminating – embracing and enjoying all cultures, races and individual styles
- socially compassionate – possessing humanity
- accepting others as they are and not trying to change people
- comfortable with oneself – despite any unconventional tendencies
- a few close intimate friends rather than many surface relationships
- sense of humour directed at oneself or the human condition, rather than at the expense of others
- spontaneous and natural – true to oneself, rather than being how others want
- excited and interested in everything, even ordinary things
- creative, inventive and original
- seek peak experiences that leave a lasting impression
I have friends and people in my life who stop going up to the next level – getting stuck on the Social Need level, somehow thinking if they can just give of themselves enough, the social acceptance will be so great they could finally get to their own self-esteem through that channel. That was never how it happened with me. How it happened with me is that the more I did for others, the more I people-pleased, sacrificed self, overlooked myself, disregarded myself, the further away I moved into the realm of complete dependence on other people and situations rather than moving UP to my own self-initiated independence/self-esteem. To make matters worse, I would often even go back down levels in regression!
No wonder I was angry and resentful at having no sleep after I [at my own expense] volunteered to stay awake in order to wake a friend up to go to work. No wonder, in trying to make my grandmother happy by eating every meal she cooked for me, I began refusing food! No wonder that when I am feeling unsafe I seem to stay home more and lose interest in my friendships. No wonder. No wonder. No wonder.
And the more I did, the less satisfied I became. I wonder why? I was doing all this stuff for everyone else and having nothing left for me. It’s not that no one necessarily didn’t appreciate me or what I was doing, but that I had extended myself to such a degree that I?no longer had a self in order to accept their appreciation. By the time it reaches that particular level, no amount of anyone else or any situational gratitude could help me.
I’m feeling unsafe to take it easy. Unsafe to say No. Unsafe to be who I need to be. I have lost my center and I’m out of there. I’m operating from straight survivor mode because society has still deemed it okay we eat and sleep but that at the same time that if we put ourselves first we’re selfish.
I am the most important person. And it is all about me. This means if I want to help you, extend myself to you, or be of service to you, I have to put me first. This also means I don’t have to help you if I don’t want to and the reason is none of your business – not to sound unkind – but you do not have a “right” to me, my thoughts or my feelings. I owe no one an explanation and those people who would require one, would want one in order to judge it to either talk me out of it, make me wrong on it, guilt me with it, or try to rationalize it away from me. If I trust to, I may tell you. If I don’t I won’t. You do have a “right” to yours and I may suggest that if you’re feeling “off” you examine them. If I lose me, I am useless to you; I am useless to me.
You cannot fill up my bucket, no matter how hard you try. You are a person – like me – and you are fallible and human too. If you bend over backwards and contort and hurt yourself for my benefit I may or may not notice but you will almost surely get resentful. Your resentment wil not hurt me. I promise. But it will hurt you. It will permeate everything you touch and you will stunt yourself.
“You are the most important person.”