I always see you loving yourself last.
Why are you doing that? Loving yourself last, I mean. Who taught you that? It’s terrible. Stop doing it. Stop it so your own kids won’t learn that from you.
Oh someone told you that good people put themselves last? Do unto others before you do unto you?
You ever see those old Looney Tunes Chip and Dale cartoons?
The two chipmunks are so over-giving (“You first. No you first!”) that neither of them gets anything. They can’t receive. It’s a lose-lose. And we laugh at it since we get it so deeply somehow.
And forget that stuff about being a saintly martyr. You aren’t a martyr because you like it. You hate it. It boils your blood and makes you feel lonely and righteous. These are horrible feelings.
You put yourself last because you’re scared, baby. You’re scared that if you put yourself first, all those delicate relationships around you will get rocked. You think your family will suffer, your friends will call you braggy, and your boss will wonder why you’re no longer a team player.
You think that if you shine, and give yourself what you need first, you’ll be a selfish little pisspot like all those other selfish little pisspots you see and hate out there. Self-serving bitches.
Except, you could never be that. You don’t ever need to fear that.
In fact, if you’re last on your list by nature, then your chances of you becoming a self-serving sociopath are next to zero. Your only goal is to try to get nearer to the middle, let alone put yourself first.
Ahh, first. What does that feel like? What does that look like? And more importantly, who do you think would be sacrificed if you did? And would they really be sacrificed? Or would you just be taking the crutches out from under their arms and finally letting them grow up?
Yes, give them a chance to grow. Put yourself first a few times and see what happens. Who melts down? Who has a tantrum? Who has to shift their schedule for once instead of you? Who has to stay up late doing the laundry instead of watching TV?
You love yourself last out of fear. You think no one else will love you if you start loving yourself first, or at least start loving yourself more.
You’re proving that you’re a great person to yourself by treating yourself like shit.
Who does that?
You, that’s who. But not anymore.
Starting now, you’re going to cancel something you don’t want to do. You’re going to tell someone something that’s been stuck in your throat and heart for ages. You’re going to plan a date to take care of your body and dress yourself up so you feel beautiful, handsome, or even sexy.
You’re going to tell your kids “no you can’t have that” so instead you can get that thing you want for yourself (and no, it can’t be something for the “whole family to enjoy” since that’s only marginally better than being dead last).
I want you to feel selfish for awhile. Because I have a hunch that your “selfish” is so far away from true selfish that everyone you know would laugh at you if they knew.
Which is a good thing. It means you’re humble, and loving. It means you care. It means you’re a really good person who actually has a problem with being just as good to yourself as you are to other people.
So let’s fix that.
- Cancel something.
- Tell someone your truth.
- Let someone else do that chore.
- Give yourself a treat —a big one too, not the teensy size thing you normally do.
- Risk feeling selfish.
You gotta do it. Your kids depend on it. Your health depends on it. You can’t be there for everyone if you aren’t there for yourself, first.
(And don’t “start tomorrow.” That’s putting yourself last again, behind all those other things you’re supposed to do. Do it now. Be selfish with your time. Do it now.)
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This is an essay from my forthcoming book. I’d love to know your feedback. Help me perfect this! Please leave a comment below!