I noticed recently that I was having discomfort walking in my slippers because they didn’t have enough padding. As I was putting new innersoles in them, they were putting up quite the fight.
As I struggled to put them in, I almost gave up and left the innersoles out. Then I thought, “what if I was doing this for someone ELSE?” This caused me to redouble my efforts, and give it another go. After a bit more time, I got them to fit perfectly in the slippers. That’s when it occurred to me: WHY is it we’ll go out of our way to do something for someone else, but not for ourselves? Why do we assume that we’re not worth the extra effort when we attempt to make something work for another going the extra distance to MAKE it work?
Wow. A bit of an epiphany, although occasionally I’ve gotten glimpses of this clarity. As we grow up, we’re taught that we should come SECOND to everyone else! Give someone ELSE the bigger piece of cake, let someone ELSE play with the toy you wanted to play with, go along with someone ELSE’S idea of a day of fun.
Okay, that’s fine. We all DO need to realize that “you AREN’T the center of the Universe”, as my mom would say. As any mom would say to help the child realize that the ego can’t be the driving force in a child’s life all the time. But somewhere along the way, we’ve taken this paradigm to the level that we can’t do anything nice for ourselves! Absurd as this is, we’ve created a position for ourselves to be secondary in our lives, with everyone else coming first.
Ego is a powerful thing, and as a small child, we discover how much we need it to define who we are and what we are capable of. As we are so new and fresh in the world, we don’t have a lot that we CAN do to tell the world we are here! And it gets results. Food, changing, attention. It works beautifully, and is an accepted behavior at that age. We even have a great name for it: “The Terrible Twos”! It is as socially natural as a sore back is for adults. Doesn’t seem out of place at all. We accept it as we see that the child is crying to have what it wants, screaming out when it doesn’t get it. We all remember that time when our child was that age. SO glad it’s over for us. The parents will remove the child from our company if it gets to be too much. That’s the accepted norm, and if they don’t, the parents now have to live with the social stigma of not being aware of the protocols in that situation.
As we grow older, we see that that kind of behavior is childish, and below our status as a growing human. We find it hard to imagine that we were once so demanding and loud. But the behavior is now being reversed, with us now being inculcated with social graces, and that includes “putting the other person first”. Again, ego DOES need to be tamed, to be set aside for when it’s truly needed. But by putting others first, our ego is embarrassed and ashamed. How dare it want what it wants? Surely I am not worthy of having my desires filled. “Someday my time will come”, we say to ourselves. And we wait.
When I do things for others, however, I am very aware that I am also feeding my ego, because I know that their accolades and gratitude will tide me over until my time comes. And if I didn’t do it, the disappointment in the face of the would-be benefactor would devastate me. More than that, I would now be seen as less than perfect in their eyes! And that’s a horrible feeling. “Others must come first”, echos in my head, programming coming to the fore. In fact, it feels really good to do something, but we more often than not see it as a way to eventually get what we want. Tit for tat. Right? We sit back knowing that we have a favor “owed” us.
Suppose we DIDN’T see it as this kind of necessary reciprocation? Suppose the symbiosis was simply that we got joy out of doing it? Is this even POSSIBLE?
What if when we were younger we were taught that it’s OKAY to want to be the most important person in our lives? What if then when we were older we realized that to be number one in our own lives, we could be so much more in others lives?
On “America’s Got Talent”, I heard one very talented contestant say, while watching the others on monitor, that “They deserve to win. All of them.” Perhaps not realizing that he was an amazing talent himself! Well, the judges realized it, and chose HIM out of the many contenders! He could see greatness in the others, but had trouble seeing it in himself.
I see a huge issue with self-esteem in our world today, and I suspect strongly that it’s because we are told and told again that we aren’t the most important person in our lives. But when we need a support base for our hopes and dreams, shouldn’t we include OURSELVES in the group? Shouldn’t we realize that without ourselves as our biggest supporter, we have essentially nothing? When we can support ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally, I think we’ll see a huge change in the world.
People respond to love, in so many forms. When you can love yourself 100%, you can love others 100% and not feel emotionally needy because you need it from an outside source. Ergo, you can now GIVE MORE of yourself, without fear of loss. Let’s not be slaves to our egos any longer, but realize that they don’t mind being disciplined, and will act in the best interest of ourselves when put in the proper perspective yet still allowed to serve us as we need. Maybe we can even make our ego our FRIEND, and allow it to be part of our lives, as long as it behaves itself, realizing it’s place in our world.
Let’s love ourselves and realize that that’s all we really need to love each other. After all, we’re all we’ve got.