Conversation at a Thai Yoga Retreat – On Being the Most Important Person in the Room

Here’s another interesting conversation I recorded about being the most important person in the room.

I celebrated my birthday last year at Bhud Sunshine’s Xhale Yoga Retreat Centre in Pai, Chiangmai with a dozen people from around the world. We spent long days doing yoga, practicing meditation, chanting, discussing philosophy and eating vegetarian meals prepared using fresh and local foods, It was a nurturing experience to say the least, and we all became very comfortable with each other very easily. One evening I was asked about my book and it inspired an interesting conversation, part of which I was able to record on my phone. What intrigues me when I listen back on this conversation is this – even in the most progressive societies of France, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany, women aren’t taught to put themselves first, No matter where we come from, it seems, it’s not easy to choose to make us happy, especially where relationships are concerned. (The recording of the conversation is at the bottom of the post.

Switzerland: For women, you know. We are not encouraged to be ourselves.We’re more encouraged to, to do the washing and the, you know.

Me: And the care giving.

Switzerland: Yuh. Housekeeping. Kid’s raising.

Me: Well that’s it. We’re encouraged to do that but we’re not encouraged to put ourselves first. But nobody is. Nobody is really.

Switzerland: Yah you’re right.

France: You did your research, where, to write this book?

Me: Well, it’s a memoir. (I turned off the recorder for a moment to make sure everyone was comfortable with me recording our conversation and OK with me posting it in public. Then I asked the question…) What do you think of when you hear the term, you’re the most important person in the room?

France: My first impression is it’s selfish. Not selfish, but if I have to say that I feel not guilty, but, self-centred. My ego is too much. But I think it’s important to know that you are the most important, but not to – to know for you, but you don’t have to tell to each other that you are most important, you don’t have to make the feeling to the other that you are the more important. I don’t want the other to feel that think that I am more important. It’s just for me. I just want to keep this feeling for me. It’s not to share with each other. It’s just for me.

Me: So, when you think about it though, if you say to yourself I’m the most important person, can you take a moment and just feel how that feels? Does it make you feel anything different?

France: Maybe I feel more self-confidence. I will have more, the possibilities are open when I say that to myself. I will travel alone, I will do many things that I will not do if I think I’m not able to do. So yah, when you feel that I think you can do many things.

(Laughter) this my English…

Netherlands: A lot of people do things only for other people and I can see that in my father’s and mother’s relationship. Because, I ended my ten year relationship at the beginning of this year and my mother was like, “Why are you doing that, you just bought a house, you go on holidays three times a year, you don’t argue. You look happy.”

Switzerland: You look happy.

Netherlands: Yah. “You look so happy. And you have commitment with him and you have to stay together with him. You’ve already been together for ten years” and like, yah, well, it isn’t that I don’t want to break up but it isn’t what it is anymore, to stay with him felt even more selfish. So that is why I broke up the relationship. He gives me more love than I can give him so it’s not equal anymore. And she was talking about what she always did. Well, somebody liked her when she was married already. ‘But I”m married so I didn’t do it.’ She was only thinking about what should a person do and what shouldn’t a person do instead of talking about how she felt. So, and that was when I had to teach my mother, don’t think about what other people think about or what do my colleagues think, or what do they think what do my friends think when I broke up with him because nobody saw it coming, but I said, yah. It’s not about them, it’s about me and my life, because I’m the only one who can make me happy. And I was like, oh shit, I’m like twenty-eight, twenty seven at the time and my mother is fifty plus and I had to explain to her how those things work, in my opinion. If she wants to do it different, sure, fine by me. But it made me sad a little because she does things, she does it for other people or she thinks other people.

Me: She’ll need to read my book.

Netherlands: So I’m really saying it to her all the time. Don’t look too much to other people and worry about what they think. Don’t limit yourself and stuff like that.

Me: I know, I know.

Netherlands: So that’s kind of, I’m kind of proud that I already discovered it at twenty-eight twenty-seven. And I made some big changes in my life.

Me: And you’re going to make more.

Netherlands: And also because of her, how she was thinking about doing things for other people I was like, Oh no, I’m not going to do that. I just have to do things for me. I think I’m a kind person so I will not, just ignore other people’s wishes or something, but it’s, yah, I’m the only one who can make me happy. So. That’s hard. To make yourself happy. Because humans –

Switzerland: That’s the only way.

Me: It’s the only way. You have to start with you. No body else is going to make you happy.

Netherlands: You know, if you have a really nice husband, or a nice friend, or a cute dog…

Me: I have the nicest husband in the world and he can’t make me happy, he can make me miserable…

Switzerland: It helps but I guess you have to be happy first.

Me: You can’t be a good partner – I mean I was a good partner but I wasn’t fulfilled, so I was always starting fights, and I would always test him Twenty-five years into the marriage and I was still resentful of things he’d forgotten or whatever.

Netherlands: I love what you said, people love to get information and then blame blame blame. Because that’s what people do so quickly instead of, hey, I noticed you don’t clean this and this, the dishes are always still in the dishwasher, you can just ask. Instead of getting mad…

Me: -I told you a hundred times…

Netherlands: That’s a really good approach. That was an eye opener for me. Because I can be, I want it my way, and then I start to panic a bit. I’m a control freak. That’s not how I imagined it. Expectations.
What was the most what was the biggest change now that you know?

Me: The biggest I’m thinking about right now is that I’m in my own body. I was living at arms length from my life, I was an observer, I had this spiritual identity. I studied Gurdieff. I was in this really terrible marriage and I wanted to fix myself so I started doing this self-remembering, which is be aware of what you’re thinking, be aware of what you’re feeling, it’s this self-awareness program I put myself on,
And what that did was make me a really good observer of my life. But until I knew I was important I could just use that. I could use that enlightened self that I thought I was to keep myself separate from me.
Once I’m the most important person in the room, it’s up to me to write this book. It’s up to sit here and say, yah, spend the ten thousands hour

Germany: I think your book is for everyone. We don’t learn it today, to be this way. We do and do and do. In Germany, you know. I thought about the title of your book, and I was, Oh no no no no.

(Laughter)

 

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