April 15, 2015
I Choose Me
I love my sister-in-law. She’s smart, beautiful, witty and quick. She speaks fast and you’d better pay attention, or what she says might fly right by you.
You might miss something great.
Like this one time. I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but she says “I choose me”.
I choose me.
Choosing yourself – rather than giving in, rather than giving up, rather than pleasing one more person – choosing yourself.
Most of us couldn’t imagine it. Words float up like selfish, narcissistic and self-centered. We start to feel uncomfortable and guilty.
It just doesn’t feel right.
We worry that it’s not polite.
Choosing yourself doesn’t mean you are dissing another person, it doesn’t mean you aren’t choosing them. It actually has nothing to do with them. It simply means you’re taking care of yourself.
I’ve lived a lot of my life being co-dependent. It’s stirred in with the soup of dysfunction – low self-esteem, people pleasing and poor boundaries are other ingredients.
I very rarely chose myself – good co-dependent that I was.
I remember so many times when I’d do things I didn’t want to do.
I’d go to parties I didn’t want to go to, I’d allow people into my life that I knew I shouldn’t, I’d have an extra drink that I didn’t want, I’d do the socially ‘right’ thing.
I’d do whatever was expected or asked of me, whether I wanted to or not. I never considered for a minute that I had a choice, a voice, an identity of my own, a me.
I was definitely not choosing me.
The problem was getting rid of the voices in my head telling me I was bad for one reason or another if I decided to choose myself.
So how do you go about beginning to choose yourself?
Baby steps. A little at a time. Try to quiet the shoulds. My beautiful and very wise friend Kathleen has a great answer for me when I start talking about what I should do. ‘Honey, don’t should on yourself’ she’ll say.
Think about that for a minute. Don’t should on yourself. When you start with the shoulds, stop. Do what you have to, and definitely do what you want, but don’t do something only because you should do it.
I say this assuming you’ll use reason and common sense. Life is life and there are things that we really should do, as in work, pay taxes, grocery shop and clean the house.
And I didn’t mention children. I believe we must abjure ‘I Choose Me’ when it comes to children. If there are children involved choose the child. Always choose the child.
The first time you choose yourself might feel uncomfortable. The voices, you know?
Listen to them. See what they have to say to you. Do you really agree with them, or are they just old tape recorders from some past experience in your life?
Are they feeding you guilt? Probably so. It’s one of the big things we feel when we choose ourselves. That’s okay. Feel it. Then let it go. It doesn’t belong to you.
Perhaps you said no to someone and you’re not used to saying no. Here come the voices – ‘what are they going to think about me?’, ‘what if they won’t like me any more?’, ‘you only think of yourself’, and the ever-present ‘what if they walk away and never come back?’ in other words, ‘what if they leave me?’
There’s not much scarier to a person with abandonment issues (I did mention dysfunction soup, didn’t I?) than the (false) idea that a muttered ‘no’ will be enough to make someone walk.
If the voices in our head about what others will do or think if we choose ourselves are right, are these really people we want in our lives? Do they care or love us?
If they do, they’ll stick around. They’ll respect our decision. They’ll respect us. That’s right. Even if we say no.
I’m glad I didn’t let that wonderful gem of wisdom rocket past when I heard my sister-in-law say it.
And you beautiful people? Are you going to choose yourself?
I’ll tell you what I practice.
I choose me.
Yeah, I choose me.
Check out the words (to the end if you can – they’re great!) to India Arie’s song. She’s choosing herself. And go ahead after you’ve listened the first time and read the lyrics – play it again, nice and loud and DANCE!