I received a critique that last week’s post was “all about me”.
Something interesting happened as I processed this.
It hit a place that fears I am an attention seeker. It hurt.
After all – few of my colleagues write publicly. Why do I do this?
What does it mean to be an attention seeker?
To want a response. To want appreciation.
It’s a funny thing that this is a negative in my mind – don’t each of us want appreciation?
I do indeed get appreciation.
And I get a good amount of critique, too. It’s not fun and not easy to bear. And I’m always struggling with the questions of calling and purpose and meaning with respect to my writing. All valid questions.
After a bit more sitting with the critique I saw something that is really important.
Why is all about me a bad thing?
Am I so bad?
We have an underlying assumption that us – our needs, our words…. they’re unacceptable, less important…. We have an aversion to being perceived as “selfish”.
It’s not that we don’t struggle with this question – I’m not advocating permission for hedonism – an energetic loop of self-interest.
And I’m not suggesting we don’t struggle with ourselves by asking questions about our blind spots and the ways we misattune. We have to do this in all of our interactions. We have to be open to the possibility that we have hurt someone and to respond accordingly.
As a therapist I have an ethical and professional obligation to facilitate the growth of my clients. If I went on about my annoyance with the cell phone company that would be a mistake. That would be all about me in a non helpful way.
Many of us have backgrounds of being carved out, becoming caregivers – this makes us suited to the work.
But our clients need us. The real us. Just because we don’t vent our daily concerns doesn’t mean we’re not present. And whether we speak it explicitly or not, our own experiences, our stories, are present in our clinical work in a tangible way.
And outside the room – when I’m not working professionally I am like everyone else. Afraid to be selfish when in truth suppressing my needs denies the reality of being me and makes me closed and angry.
If it shouldn’t be all about me it shouldn’t be all about anything. Why am I so despised? It is heightened grandiosity to think that I am the one cluster of living cells on the planet that doesn’t matter. That should somehow be able to write as if I don’t exist a person.
We’re an interdependent eco system but my needs – ‘X’ them out.
This is nonsense. And nonsense that at some level most of us can relate to.
This insistent underpinning of negating our own experience and needs is what is destroying our planet and threatening our safety.
We have to be able to stand ourselves.
Because we exist.
Claim your existence.
I’m working to claim mine.
And my experience, sustained experience, is that as I become more of myself, I impact others in a deeper way.
And my experience, sustained experience, is that I am attracted to and impacted by people who also have a deep connection with themselves.
It’s a threatening and subversive idea this inhabiting of ourselves.
Is this blog all about me? It can’t be anything but.
And all of me is constituted by every breath I have breathed, and every idea I have heard or read, and every smile I have ever seen.
I am the creative result of all of this.
All about me is all about you.
We are indeed in this together.