31 More Things – 6 – The Most Important Thing

These are from Ali’s 31 More Things class. More context here.

So here’s my day six – the most important thing.

(journaling below)

The most important thing has such an ominous sound to it. I feel like I get this one wrong, everything else will collapse, too. After all, if you can’t get “the most important thing” right, what hope do you have of getting anything else right, isn’t that so?

My first instinct, of course, was to say my family. They are definitely the most important thing in my life. But I’ve already written about them. Several times. So I wanted to think about something creative and different, but still true.

And then it hit me. The most important thing is me. I am the most important thing.

I know it might sound narcissistic at first but it’s not. As I grow older, I’m learning that how well I take care of myself and how I feel has a direct impact on those I love. If I am patient and loving with myself, I am able to be more patient and loving with my kids. If I can offer myself grace when I make a mistake, I can extend the same courtesy to my husband. The more I have, the more I can give.

A few years ago, I’d read that you cannot love others more than you love yourself. I violently dismissed this as soon as I read it. It couldn’t be true because I knew that, for me, it wasn’t true. I definitely loved my kids and my husband much, much more than I love myself. I’ve always had a contentious relationship with myself but I knew that there was nothing I wouldn’t do for my family. So it made no sense that my love for them couldn’t be greater than the small amount I felt for myself.

But then I realized the depth of the sentence. The fact is, when I am not kind to myself, when I don’t love myself, when I am not taking care of myself, I am not my best self. If I don’t foster these things in myself, I am failing those I love. At first look, I am setting a really bad example. I know that what I do matters much more than what I say. How can I expect my kids to love themselves when I don’t? And when we go deeper, it’s even worse. How can I give what I don’t have. If I don’t fill myself up with love, I cannot authentically give it to my family. I want them to see what it looks like and feel what it feels like to deeply love someone. It’s not enough to say it; I have to live it.

As with most things, it starts with me. The most important thing is for me to love me.

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