Make Important What is Important
Three years ago I was starting a new job after being out of the workforce for half a decade because of mental health symptoms.
I was excited but also terrified.
In my gut (and heart) I knew it was the right time for me to go back to work.
I had asked the higher power for guidance, I had been working relentlessly on becoming well.
I knew that the next step was to push through that barrier and prove to myself that I was capable of holding a job and consistently working to earn a living.
I was excited, it felt right—but I was also uncertain.
How will I do this?
I had gotten better by spending a lot of time putting energy into my own well-being. What if I couldn’t do that and hold a job? I had a family to think of too, I had to manage my time and energy and keep up with my workload?
And then the question of ethics. I had entered a field of work that I didn’t inherently trust because of it’s reputation. I had done it partially to counter my own prejudice about it, but what if that belief had been right.
“Make important what is important, let the rest go.”
This is what the voices told me.
“You can’t control everything,” they said, “There will be times when you will be pushed and challenged, but keep your center by focusing on what is important and making that first. If it’s not important then don’t hold onto it.”
It wasn’t a response that immediately addressed all of my concerns, but it gave me a framework—a compass for finding alignment in all kinds of situations.
I think that this is a stumbling block that many of us have. We forget what is important in many situations. We get caught up in the pressure, excitement, numbness, or habit and lose sight of why we are where we are and what matters most to us.
If you ask what is important you will get many different answers, but the question really needs to be what is important to you?
In each situation what are your top priorities and why?
If you know what is important to you it’s easier to figure out how to respond to challenges because when they arise you put your priorities first and go from there.
When I was working in the office I wanted to be a good employee of course. I wanted my co-workers to like me and I wanted to feel confident and make money. However, those weren’t my top priorities.
The important things for me then were to continue the trajectory of growth and wellness I had started years ago. I wanted to develop skills that I was lacking—like being able to talk on the phone, organize information, understand money, and consistently show up. I wanted to practice integrity by speaking up if I saw a problem and I wanted to understand how healing could take place for someone who had to work so that I could address that dynamic when I started a business to help others with it.
I also could not sacrifice my own health for the sake of the job or any other aspect of my life—I knew this because I had previous experience with what happened when I did. If I got to a point where I could not sustain myself and I collapsed, then everything else that I was working for collapsed with me. This was the reality of how my life worked.
Knowing these things made it possible for me to go through the day looking at the situations in front of me.
When did I need to push my limits and when did I need to step back?
How did I connect and communicate in a manner that upheld my priorities?
How did I manage my time and energy?
How this type of thing will play out in each person’s individual life will depend on the person, but it is a useful tool for guidance.
If you know what is important to you and follow that it will improve your sense of integrity and alignment. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever come into conflict with values or potential consequences, but you will get to access your power of choice through a framework of understanding what is important to you.
If you are someone who struggles a lot with guilt and anxiety over situations this tool can be especially helpful (I’m sure that is why it was provided to me), because it bulwarks your own understanding of why you made the decisions you did.
If, for example, you decide that you need to take care of your health because wellness is important to you the recognition of that priority and choice can act as a shield against the old belief that you should always work harder and that you are being lazy.
When you hear that thought slipping in you, if you recognize what your priorities are and that you have been choosing from them you can respond:
“I’m not being lazy, I am standing by my values. It takes courage to do this. I am challenging an old way of doing things so that I can be in alignment with myself. I know that health is more important than over-production and I am going to live like it, because that is what is important to me.”
By the way, if you are someone who is doing this—making the important things important—thank you, because it takes courage to break through old patterns, habits, and pressure and by doing so you are creating an energy that makes it easier for those around you to follow suite.
And if you are in a situation where choosing from your priority comes in direct contrast with external pressure and you occasionally find that you cave—don’t beat yourself up over it.
We are learning as humans how to come into our own power right now, self-protection is also a value and an important one. Judgement and self-condemnation when you are in a difficult decision won’t make things better, they will only undermine your progress by creating pain. Instead recognize the difficulty of the situation you were in, reflect on whether you would like to do things differently in a similar situation next time or not and then if you decide you would look for ways to support that decision—how can you build up whatever you would need to face a similar situation in the future.
I talk about living based on values a lot because lining up with your own sense of integrity is one of the best ways to come into your own power. It also builds self-trust, resilience, and confidence—and not doing so often creates a void in the center of self, a feeling of powerlessness, victimization, doubt, lack of self-trust, and pain. I believe that it is generally in most people’s best interest to live from a place of recognizing their own power and choosing from there, but it is not a strict standard of conduct and doesn’t make you bad, weak, immoral, or unethical if you don’t.
In the long run a pattern of choosing to make things that are not important to you important in your life tends to cause a great deal of pain and disappointment, and that is why I would tend to recommend against it.