The Errey family have a peculiar knack of putting everybody in the world ahead of themselves. Right now I’m giving my all at my current freelance gig, a high-pressure, non-stop environment where I’m putting doing great work ahead of my own needs, including my health.
I should be prioritising meditation and getting well ahead of working hard for my team, but I’m not.
I don’t know where we get it from, but as far back as I can remember we’ve all stepped back and done things for other people, whether it’s each other, partners, colleagues, bosses, friends or whoever else happened to need something.
Now, I think that’s awesome – it’s important to be there for people you care about and selflessness is a rare trait indeed.
But I wonder what the cost of that has been, for all of us.
My family would happily swim the Atlantic on a bread board if it meant being there to help a friend or family member in need, but at what point do you say have to say “No more, get lost“?
I know this sounds like I’m saying “Screw everyone else, just look out for yourself“, and to some extent that would be true.
The simple truth is, you’ve got to have the confidence to put yourself first.
You have to be the most important person in your world.
At its most benevolent, this is about the times when you don’t speak up or don’t make your voice heard. At these times you’ll end up sitting on your hands so that you don’t run the risk of upsetting anyone or looking silly.
Going up the scale is falling into people-pleaser syndrome, then higher still is becoming a “bottomless pit” – doing things for everyone else without regard to yourself.
Perhaps at the top end of the scale is staying in an abusive relationship because you don’t want to hurt your partner, don’t want to rock the boat or don’t believe you have a choice in the matter.
All of these things stem from a lack of confidence to exert yourself in your own life, letting other people take the lead because you want other people to feel good about you and because you’re trying to feel good about yourself.
Nobody else can do it for you – you have to make yourself important in your own life.
The cost of these patterns of behaviour are high indeed, and being very male about it I’m going to apply a formula to solve these complex equations.
If you can’t afford, on a personal level, to put into a relationship what you’re putting in, you need to get out.
What does that mean? It means that if you personally don’t have available what you’re about to give, you have to make a different choice.
You can’t damage yourself to make someone else feel better.
That’s too high a price, and even though it might take more guts, courage and confidence than you think you have, there’s always another, better way.
You might not be comfortable with the word ‘selfish’. Fair enough, feel free to use ‘self-centered’ instead. Or perhaps self-confident. The point is that it’s about self.
A few days later…
That’s the article as I originally wrote it. And while I agree with every word I said, there was something about it that’s been troubling me.
I honestly believe that generosity of spirit is the human race’s finest quality. I have to remind myself of that frequently, as it’s all too easy to become jaded or cynical.
I honestly believe that giving of yourself has a nobility and grace that goes beyond a reasoned argument for pulling back and protecting yourself.
Yes, there are times when you need to make a choice to put yourself first, but there are also times when your instinct to do that can be better replaced with that spirit of generosity and giving.
It’s saying “What can I do for you?” rather than “What can I do for me?“
I think that’s how you can rise above your own limitations and realise that you’re more powerful than you let yourself be.
What do you think?
- Other articles you might like:
- Where Are You on the Confidence Scale?
- Confidence Building Strategy: How to Be More ‘You’
- Everyone’s a loser – Here’s why…