I tasted sweet, sweet victory this week. Not because I won a race or finally managed to clean my apartment the way it’s been begging me to, but because I was able to choose myself. I chose myself…twice…this week.
It is way too easy to convince ourselves that what we feel and what we want is not as important if it comes at the expense of not providing other people what they desire.
Validating ourselves can be difficult because many of us would like to be ‘the bigger person.’ We want to be kind and selfless.
Unknowingly, though, we neglect to be kind to ourselves. When we lack the courage to validate ourselves, we find ourselves in difficult situations that make us uncomfortable, that don’t sit right with us.
I don’t mean the kind of uncomfortableness that helps us grow, but more so the type of uncomfortableness that we force ourselves to tolerate in order not to disappoint others.
Oftentimes the hesitation in choosing ourselves is attached to a fear of how others will see us. Will those who know us perceive us differently? Will they think less of us? What judgement will they make?
In reality, we judge ourselves (and harshly) and project these judgements unto those who care about us. Those who sincerely love us want us to take care of ourselves. They want us to choose ourselves first because without validating ourselves, we cannot show up for those whom we love.
Those who care about us are patient with our timing, they respect our boundaries, and they see the value in the need to do what is right for ourselves.
This past week, life decided to present me with opportunities to practice this lesson. Both times, when I was confronted with having to make a decision while still very much wanting to please two individuals, I kept hearing the echo of my friend’s voice:
“You can be quite literally selfless to a flaw.”
His comment, said with love, had struck a chord with me. It turned on a lightbulb that I’d refused to let shine before. I knew these words were true, but I’d learned to convince myself that selflessness equaled being a good person.
A couple of days after this conversation with him, there I was, in a situation that was again testing me to see if I would choose myself even if it meant risking someone being upset.
The easiest thing for me to do was to ignore what I was feeling and put the other person before myself. It wasn’t a desire to please to be liked – it was a desire to please in order not to seem weak. I could handle someone disliking me; I couldn’t bear the thought of someone seeing me as weak.
But this time I tuned in. I recognized that I was placing that judgement on myself. It was my own reaction that I needed to explore. It had nothing to do with the other person.
This helped me respect what I was feeling. It helped me make the decision that was healthiest for me. I validated myself and chose myself. I put myself first and managed not to feel the slightest bit ashamed or guilty.
And, guess what?
I chose myself and the world didn’t end. There wasn’t a catastrophe, not even a minor shake in the earth.
Life went on, and went on much more peacefully.
There was no pressure to have a change of heart. There was no need to even explain.
Instead, there was a heartfelt embrace and the reassuring words, “I understand.”
When we validate ourselves, it allows us to witness the magic of what choosing ourselves can do for us. It also shows us the beauty of seeing that those who care about us accept and join us in our validation.
You are important.
What you feel is valid.
You are worth choosing yourself.
There is no shame in self-care and self-love, only strength.
Choose yourself when you need to so that you can become a better partner, a better friend, a better brother, a better daughter, a better participant in this world.