Shadow Work Journal Exercise: Putting Yourself Last

Where are you putting yourself last? Think of the last time you did this to yourself in an unhealthy way. Why did you put aside your own well-being and needs?

When reflecting upon this…I feel like a lot of my life has actually been the opposite…always putting myself above others. I was selfish. I did what I had to to get ahead of others, if it meant walking all over them. I steamrolled, I suppose.

However. When I lived under my parents roof, I often put myself last to not necessarily please my parents. They could never be pleased, ever. I moreso put myself last to avoid their wrath. I kept in line to keep the worst of their actions at bay. And I had to suppress parts of myself and who I was and wanted to be to avoid their cruel judgements and punishments for no real reason. This cause irreparable harm into adulthood to my self esteem and created an uneasiness about handling anything important. It made me question and double guess everything I did. Sometimes still to this day.

But I guess, other than the times that I was with them, I guess I am struggling to think of a time that I put myself last because I think when I left my parent’s house and started living with partners, I kind of over-corrected. It felt good to be bossy, it felt good to put my every need first. But, in doing so, I put everyone else around me last. Other people’s needs or wants didn’t register to me. I think I was just so starved for trying to figure out who I was, and trying to erase the voids that my trauma had caused me, that I felt like making room for other people’s needs and wants around me was too much of an ask.

I guess I could say that I put myself last when I ignored many red flags from past partners, and with friend groups that I was simply a side character in. None of my friendships were as deep as I thought they were. The older I got, and the more I tried to be selfish and push what I wanted to do onto others whether they liked it or not, the more pushback I got. And it was deserved, I had to learn eventually that I was actually not the center of the universe. Others were allowed to have a say, and ask for things that they wanted. So…in a way it was a life lesson. I am thankful of that, for sure. Anyways, I’m unsure if these count as putting myself last, but maybe I felt like I was being put last by others because of my selfish behavior. I became irrelevant.

I could also maybe say I started putting myself last when I reached a level of depression where I felt like my needs and wants didn’t matter anymore. I no longer felt like my wants were valid, so I questioned everything I liked and did. Eventually it all kind of came crashing down and I hit my rock bottom. And I started putting myself last, and kind of overcorrecting again by thinking it was then my life mission to just do everything except take care of myself. I was passively sewerslidal. I didn’t care about consequences or what happened to me anymore. It was kind of a moment where I knew what I had been doing wasn’t working anymore, but felt like I didn’t know how to carve out my future yet either. I hadn’t fully addressed my past and how it had been affecting me. I was kicking the can down the road and just hoping it would erase the things I was desperately trying to forget naturally.

Why did I put these things aside? Because once I realized that I was kind of selfish and shitty as a person…I went the extreme opposite, because of black and white thinking, and thought that everything I liked and wanted was always wrong. I had a hard time striking the balance of: it’s okay to like what you like, it’s okay to do things for yourself sometimes and share things you like with other people – but you have to understand that when you have friends, you share those things and other people have a right to suggest something too, or to bring something different to the table. People are allowed to be different and you should give those things a chance. In my mind at the time, it was kind of all or nothing. So I got in my own head and started putting myself last because I felt like I was so different, and that I didn’t matter. What I liked didn’t matter. So I just went with what everyone else wanted instead, and put everything I wanted last. But at a detriment too, because it felt like the suppression all over again like under my parents control.

tldr for the last paragraph…I put myself last because I felt inferior, and I felt like everything I said or did or suggested was always going to be rejected. I kind of gave up trying.

So…I guess where I’m at today is actually trying to forge a healthier balance. I know the areas in which to take care of myself and put myself first, and when to put others first, and how to include people and their unique sets of skills or worldviews and listen to their wants and needs as well. I feel like I put myself first without steamrolling over everyone else in the process. Yay progress! 👍

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1 week ago

I think the most beautiful part of this entry is your ability to recognize when you haven’t put yourself last. You don’t paint that part of yourself in a flattering light and it’s refreshing to read someone willing to examine their past critically.

@sourapple Thank you so much for this. I think a part of me trying to heal is to actually be honest with myself and not write about anything that isn’t truthful, even if it’s difficult to admit. I appreciate this feedback greatly!