Considering Yourself First

Imagine you're sitting at a table and I give you a plate of food and I ask you to take a bite and let me know if you like it or not. You would know with the first bite if the food pleased you or you didn't care for the taste. You wouldn't eat a plate of food you didn't like.

I like to keep coming back to considering yourself first. What do you like? What don't you care for?

It can be initially difficult to consider our feelings because many of us have gotten into the habit of getting others' approval first. We want people to like us. We end up thinking in terms of what others want before our needs. Our needs end up becoming their needs.

But the joy we get from others' approval is short lived.

It's more fulfilling to focus on our needs. We feel satisfied more quickly and it lasts longer.

I had a client whose mom and dad had been buying most of his clothes for over fifteen years. He was in his late 30's. The clothes fit. But he wasn't happy with their choices. Yet, he felt he would be more unhappy if he told them he wanted to buy his own clothing because he worried it would make them upset.

I said the only thing he can react to is what is happening now. He didn't like wearing the clothes his parents gave him. That was a matter-of-fact "no." It made him unhappy. It hurt him.

I said the idea of displeasing his parents scared him. But his parents' displeasure wasn't actually happening. It was a fantasy fear that was being fed on his thinking that he needed his parents' approval to live. Needing approval from others is often tied in with survival.

He said he felt lighter thinking about letting go of the clothing his parents bought. He put the clothes in bags for a charity drop-off.

This was an opportunity to take back his life.