To Self or Not to Self

That is the question.  How do you know when to put yourself first? When to consider others more important?  When sudden breaking news shakes everyone, it is natural to look to others for ways to think about things.  But what about how you feel? No one else can tell you how you feel. No one else can presume to know how YOU feel. 

We have been socialized to think that focusing on ourselves is wrong, that it indicates a selfishness that could endanger others.  That is to say, that while you are thinking about yourself, someone who needs you may go untended. How do we deal with this burden? We chronically ignore our own needs, putting others first and, often, consequently, suffering our own demise. This is a strange and dualistic notion, that we should imperil ourselves to save others from the pain of their own needs. If we ignore our own needs, we cannot help others in any way.  If we ignore our own needs, especially as adults, supposedly functioning adults, who will take care of those needs?

Now, children are needy. Human children are very needy for the better part of their first 10 years without doubt. As children we humans are generally not big, strong or knowledgeable in navigating the world. But as adults, in theory, we must become capable and attentive to filling our own needs.  Our parents are no longer our providers.

We all want comfort and autonomy, freedom and choice.  Perhaps strangely, or more specifically in contrast to the conventional notion, such things only arise from following desire.  I don’t mean desire in the lustful sense, I mean it in the sense of knowing what moves you, knowing what is alive in you, allowing your own experience to have voice in your world.  Such a connection is a kind of super power, a kind of match to the resource of your own being. When we connect with ourselves and our world we are charged with a knowing and an energy that brings healing and transformation in its wake. Sometimes we experience the jolt of our own self, a moment of recognition and also space and fear. Sometimes we don’t even recognize that self. Yet, sometimes it is truly amazing what emerges when the demand of the body brings forth a kind of truth we have never before experienced.  We can act from a completely new place.

Sickness, illness, accidents become great levelers in this regard.  Fact is, when you are sick, when you receive a devastating diagnosis, or a shocking accident, it is yourself you think of because the body is demanding it.  We feel vulnerable, yet we are also in a way cracked open by this kind of serious imposition on our well being. When the news is about your own body and health, your own inner knowing is more important than ever. 

Can you bring attention to your very self in a given moment? Can you allow your body and your awareness to dictate what is right in this moment?

I think you know.