It’s Not Selfish; It’s Self-Full. How To Connect With Your Authentic Self and Make Yourself a Priority

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“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

– Benjamin Mee

The Power of Rubbish

There’s an interesting independent film in which the main character is literally sleeping under a pile of garbage. It becomes clear in the film that the garbage is a metaphor for all the rubbish people have dumped on her over the years, which holds her back from living her life. In her sleeping state, the woman seems oddly cozy sleeping in trash. Throughout the film, she is given several opportunities to break free of the pile of rubbish, but she chooses not to. She stays in the dump filled with the garbage of people telling her she’s not good enough; making her feel bad about how she looks; taking away things she used to enjoy; and leading her to believe she has no potential.

The main character in the film started internalizing garbage messages and beliefs as a child and never fought back or stood up for herself. The ending scene shows her under the pile of rubbish in the middle of a stream. She finally sits up and rapidly pulls apart the pile of trash, allowing it to wash downstream. With the rubbish finally gone, she is able to stand up and cross the stream without any difficulty. As she walks through the forest she sees other women who represent her potential. She accepts them and then walks away into her future.

Wake Up!

It’s clear to viewers of the film that the main character was asleep under a pile of garbage; however, during most of the film, she was oblivious to the filth piled on top of her. This made me think about how many of us choose to stay asleep even when we are uncomfortable. We sometimes prefer to sleep than truly face the reality of our lives. I think it’s time we wake ourselves up, drag ourselves out of bed, and let go of the piles of garbage that tell us we can’t do it! Our lives are just too much of a gift to put off any longer.

Connecting With Your Authentic Self

For more than fifteen years I wanted to write and teach. I had known that for most my life; however, it took me many years to admit it to myself. I followed a few roads that didn’t lead anywhere, thinking that one day—when I was ready and everything was perfectly aligned—I would make this dream come true.

I was well aware of all the issues holding me back: lack of confidence; extreme shyness; the urgency of family matters; excessive preoccupation with helping others; not enough of this, that, or the other. I had a laundry list of what seemed to be logical excuses and reasons why I couldn’t possibly follow my potential.

However, I knew there was a small inner voice tugging at me like a child tugs on your leg over and over again to get your attention. I ignored it for a while, at my own expense, but one day I knew I couldn’t continue sell myself out anymore. I was aware that any time we do things that don’t connect with our potential, we’re really just going through the motions. And what’s the point of being alive if you’re just going through the motions?

The short film I referred to earlier is called “Every Little Thing;” it’s a metaphor for how some people experience their lives asleep because they aren’t connecting with their authentic selves. For many years I was asleep too—stuck in a dream in which I was a servant trying to please others and satisfy their demands of me. I wasn’t living to my potential when I finally decided to wake up and make myself a priority. That’s when my life started.

It’s Not Selfish; It’s Self-Full

“Before I can help you, ask from you, offer you; before I can give you what I have for you and be able to receive what you have for me, I’ll have to get to this place: the place of self-dependence.”

–Dr. Jorge Bucay

It’s not selfish to make yourself a priority. However, so many of us have a hard time thinking of putting ourselves first without associating it with being selfish. For many years I put other people before myself, thinking that was the “right” thing to do. However, that way of thinking needed to change in order for me to make the necessary changes in my life to be more attuned to my needs. I was able to change my perspective by shifting my idea of what it meant to be a good person. I knew that being a good person couldn’t mean that I would have to be lost, empty, and numb. Part of that process was re-framing my idea that giving myself just as much value as others would be bad for my relationships. In actuality, gaining a strong sense of self by making time for yourself is better for your relationships. This is why connecting with your authentic self is not being selfish, but self-full. This means being in relationships without losing yourself, without carrying other people’s baggage, and acting based on what benefits you first.

You know you are living a self-full life when…

1. People can ask you for help, but you don’t give up your priorities to help.
2. You depend more on your logic to make a decision than on emotional impulses.
3. You depend on the mature aspects of yourself to nurture the child you have within.
4. You are in charge and take control over your life.
5. You make your own decisions without relying on others or being fearful of what they’ll think of you.

When you aren’t being authentic to yourself you abandon who you are. You lose yourself and can get caught up in urges to please others, which makes you susceptible to addictions, anxiety, overachieving, etc. All of this because you are living as the person you think you “should” be for society, family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. You are left adrift because you’ve abandoned your inner voice, authenticity, and inner child. As a result, you feel the need to look around, anywhere, for a feeling of fulfillment—but you only end up being dependent on others’ opinions of you. Only after gaining confidence in yourself, after taking the initiative to satisfy your needs, can you begin to lead a more self-full life.

The hardest part about becoming more self-full is taking the first step; after that it’s just a matter of consistently staying with it. Once the momentum has been created, the process just gets easier. Other people’s rubbish and negative voices will keep you paralyzed in fear, holding you prisoner in a life that’s not yours. Instead of waiting for something or someone else to allow you to be self-full, give yourself permission to do it. Discover what you want in this world, and go out and get it.

Talk soon,

Dr. Ilene

Article edited by Dr. Denise Fournier

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