Let’s Have Some Frank Talk
We often find ourselves in an internal battle of doing what’s best for ourselves vs. what will accommodate the wants/needs of others. Often these people are family, friends, coworkers, significant others, and even strangers that apply deliberate or unintentional pressure on you to make a choice that may not be in your best interest.
These choices can lead to discomfort, missed opportunities, or even worse, unhappiness. But of course, the fear of letting someone down or breaking someone’s heart causes you to choose them over yourself. In the long run, the damage done by your unselfishness can lead to catastrophic results, sometimes being so damaging that you find it impossible to bounce back. Fast forward, now you’re living a life of what ifs plagued by depression, anger, and a lack of interest in yourself.
All because you failed to choose yourself.
Over the past couple of years, it’s been a very eye opening experience to hear the stories of many people I’ve talked to that didn’t choose themselves first. Many of these people have expressed such regret that has motivated me to rethink the choices I’ve made and am currently making. Choosing yourself is the best decision you can make.
It’s also the most crucial.
Even if you don’t see the benefit right away, in the long run you will be very pleased with your decision. Choosing yourself may come with some consequences. Some people may feel betrayed, underserved, or even mislead but what trumps everything is your own peace and happiness.
We all have to think long and hard about what will truly make us happy, even if that happiness isn’t instant. It may take a while to see the benefit of choosing yourself first. You may even regret the decision at first being that choosing yourself may cause you to sacrifice benefits that you’ve became accustomed to.
Meet Walter and His 40 Years Of Regret
My most recent conversation was with a 63 year old man named Walter. He graduated from Ohio State with dreams of being an entrepreneur. Shortly after graduation he had the opportunity to go into business with his best friend. His business plan was finalized and he was ready to launch. His father, a career military man, did not support his path of entrepreneurship. He felt that it was a man’s duty to protect his family and his country via active military duty.
Walter was torn between doing what’s best for himself vs. pleasing his father and following family tradition. He made the decision to throw his dreams of entrepreneurship down the drain. He joined the Army and served for 13 years before losing his right arm during a live training exercise.
Walter’s best friend went on to build what is now a multimillion dollar corporation, located on the same street that Walter walks every day to ask civilians for loose change. Walter is a homeless disabled veteran.
What baffled me about Walter’s story is the fact that he’s homeless by choice. Family and friends have offered him help for years but the only thing he’ll accept from them is cash money. Walter understands that his lack of motivation and chronic depression stems from the choice he made when he was a 23 year old man. He failed to choose himself.
Now at age 63, it’s still the biggest regret of his life. It changed him forever. It filled his heart with hatred, so much hatred that he rejoiced after his father’s death. So much regret that he’ll never be able to choose himself. Walter refused my help with linking him to the VA, thanked me for the $5, and left me with his story to tell.
The Consequences of Putting Others First
Failing to choose yourself may cause you to settle for a relationship that isn’t ideal. Many people find themselves in a relationship that isn’t conclusive to their own happiness, but the happiness of their partner. This leads to complacency and disenchantment when you take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. Achievable goals become unfeasible due to the lifestyle you chose to comply to.
Deep down, you know what’s best for you, but you also know that your partner loves you to death and depends on you in more ways than one. So you stay because it’s the unselfish thing to do and being unselfish makes it right. Correct? WRONG. We as a people must learn that it is ok to be selfish when your own happiness is at stake.
Sacrificing your own happiness does nothing for you in the long run. This is much easier said than done I know. But if you’re in a relationship that isn’t indicative to your happiness then you need to make a grand exit and do it quickly. You owe it to yourself and actually owe it to the person you’re with as well. If they aren’t aware of your unhappiness, tell them. This doesn’t guarantee that they will understand because sometimes choosing yourself only makes sense to you. Regardless, only YOU can control your own happiness. You must choose yourself, it isn’t wrong.
Even Now, Do What’s Best For You
This isn’t an attempt to motivate anyone to be self-centered or to discourage anyone from thinking of others. This is a reminder that your wants, needs, desires, goals, and dreams should absolutely be at the top of your list.
For the people reading this that are parents or care for a loved one that needs your constant attention, and feel like choosing yourself is impossible giving your current circumstances; for the people reading this that want to choose themselves but just don’t know how to do so; for the people plagued by fear of leaving due to domestic violence or other traumatic circumstances…I’m here to tell you that you can still choose yourself. There are people and organizations out there willing to help you and I challenge you to take the first step in choosing yourself by researching these sources of help.
As you spring forward into this new season, settling is no longer an option. You can no longer settle for jobs that don’t maximize your potential. You can no longer settle for relationships that aren’t aligned with your wants and needs. You can no longer please the people that aren’t willing to make the same sacrifices for you.
Tune in to your body and listen to it because it never lies. When something isn’t right for you, your body will tell you so, no matter how many reason you come up with to justify it. You must suspend the judgement of others and do what’s best for yourself.
Even through fear, doubt, and hesitation, you must make the executive decision to create the life you desire and always remember… Choosing yourself isn’t wrong.