Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
First and foremost, Happy 4/20 to all the smokers out there! Roll a hot one, enjoy the start of Spring Break, and get ready to see some family for Easter tomorrow! I still remember that one year that 4/20 was on the same day as Easter Sunday and smokers all over the globe were conflicted whether to celebrate some good weed or the good Lord. (Heh, I crack myself up).
Anyway, this letter is dedicated to yet another self-care mechanism that many of us should adapt to our lifestyles because, in all honesty, we all could use some balance between defending ourselves and not taking things too personally.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about the differences between minimizing and prioritizing.
Many of us who are the “people-pleaser” kind don’t realize they are doing this, but we tend to think about other people’s reactions and feelings before ours, and even when we do think out ours, we tend to minimize them and play our emotions and feelings off as if they aren’t that big of a deal. While my therapist is on maternity leave, I am currently seeing a temporary therapist for the time being and although we are still getting to know each other, her first depiction of me was pretty much the same one my regular therapist had when I first started therapy: I tend to minimize my feelings and my emotions. I don’t realize I am when I’m discussing them, but I do find myself constantly seeing everyone else’s perspective before mine at times, and in only certain situations, that’s okay!
For example: if you are having a conversation about some issues in any relationship you have with someone in your life (spouse, friend, family, etc.), it’s important to not immediately get defensive and make the entire thing about you. Now, there’s going to be times when you are going to feel attacked or mocked or targeted in these type of discussions, but instead of shooting out your feelings and emotions about the issue because you are prioritizing them in the discussion, always think of the person’s motive before you assume any judgment or criticism is being thrown at you. You have to remember that every serious conversation is not targeted towards your character or your actions, and that to take as much as possible from those discussions, you can’t allow yourself to feel like you are being attacked or targeted, and trust me, having anxiety worsens that feeling and it’s hard to keep that bitch in line when you are in those situations.
A little bit of minimizing like that isn’t harmful to your mental health, I believe. Personally speaking, minimizing how I’m feeling in those moments by remembering the motive of the discussion even helps me learn something about myself along the way. No matter what type of relationship it is, the people who care about you the most is going to tell you how it is, whether you like it or not because of the love and care they have for you. Good minimizing, I believe, is simply not taking everything too personally, because then you present yourself as a person who isn’t willing to grow and learn with the people in your life.
Bad minimizing, is when you’re passive with your feelings and emotions for the sake of other people’s reactions and feelings, which in the long run develops poor communication skills with the people in your life.
Because I tend to do some bad minimizing in my life, I am learning when and where I should be prioritizing my feelings and emotions. I’ve been talking a lot about assertiveness this year because, for me, assertiveness is the balance of minimizing and prioritizing. It’s knowing where the other person is coming from, yet also letting them know (without hostility) that your feelings and emotions matter as well and should be respected in the discussion. Prioritizing your feelings and emotions teaches you a lot about yourself; your limits, your morals, and your value as a human being. At the end of the day, no one else in this world is going to prioritize you but you, so why do your body, mind, and soul the injustice?
When people say that no one is going to respect you if you don’t respect yourself, it speaks volumes because it’s true. Of course, you don’t have to be all mean and bossy when demanding respect from others (because quite frankly, demanding respect doesn’t mean you have it for yourself, you just want others to respect you to make yourself feel validated), you could simply meet both ways, or be assertive with yourself and know that you love the people in your life, and you love yourself as well.
I started to realize that prioritizing meant more than just having others understand where you’re coming from. I learned that even prioritizing for my own health and safety is so important in life! When I began to get suicidal thoughts a couple of months ago in 2018, I minimized it because I didn’t think it was that serious to put out in the world. I thought I was able to handle it myself without having to scare anyone in my life or have them worry about me. But, I know that if I didn’t prioritize that feeling and that emotion and didn’t say anything to my therapist at the time, I don’t know what would’ve happened. I don’t wanna think about what might’ve happened, but the case I’m trying to make is that it’s so important to prioritize your feelings and emotions so that you know that in situations like that, you are able to seek the help you may need. Prioritizing your emotions and feelings helps you through the healing process, and it makes things a lot easier on you in the long run. Prioritizing, no matter how severe or minor the situation may be, is an important factor in self-discovery because it helps you even understand yourself better.
As I’m still learning when are the right times to minimize and prioritize, I have to remember that I’m still learning to discover who I am in these situations, who I am in this world, and who I am morally in the long run. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was self-discovery.
So, be patient in your process.