Errin and I had been chatting for a while about what it means to be the most important person in the room when she agreed to let me record our conversation. We sat in the lounge of the public library and sipped coffee – that’s why you can hear people chatting around us. Errin spoke from her perspective as a therapist and a parent as we explored the concept of being the most important person and self love. Here’s the transcript, the audio is below.
Me: So what do you think of when you hear the term, “you’re the most important person in the room.”
Errin: I think that for each of us, for us to be the most important person in the room to us, is very important. It helps us to understand that loving ourselves is a healthy thing and not something to be upset about or shy away from or to be concerned about. I think we’ve created this place where we kind of hurt ourselves with kindness where we just bend over backwards to be everything for everyone else when that’s not always happening for us, so it’s a way of putting yourself first.
Me: That whole bending over with kindness – hurting yourself by bending over with kindness – I’ve never thought of it that way, that’s very cool.
Errin: Well in some of the kind of movements around working with people with co-dependency, or having relationships with people who become sort of steam-rollers, or some kind of self-focused traits which aren’t always helpful to the person who’s in a relationship with them, learning to do that, to be the most important person to yourself in the room, is exactly what needs to happen when you’re setting boundaries, when you’re identifying what you will accept and what you won’t accept in your life.
Me: So in your work as a therapist – so your goal as a therapist would be to get people to a point where they’re putting themselves first in a way.
Errin: Well as long as they’re not hurting other people, but to have good healthy boundaries, to make sure no one is infringing on them as a human being. We ask people, you know, what would someone who loved themselves do? If you truly loved yourself what would you do? And people don’t ask themselves that. Same thing, you know, you’re saying, being the most important person in the room, we haven’t really been trained to think like that or ask ourselves that or to live our lives like that. It’s kind of scary and very freeing at the same time.
Me: Scary and freeing. Yah.
Errin: It is. It’s letting go of a whole bunch of things that have just been ingrained in us. We tolerate things to be polite, or we don’t speak up when it’s needed. Sometimes, you know, being the most important person in the room means getting your needs met. Look at babies and little kids. They are the most important person in the world.
Me: That’s right.
Errin: By the way they’re rolling. It’s to protect them. It’s to make sure that they get their needs met.
Me: That’s an interesting point as well. Do you think that we’re born knowing we’re most important?
Errin: I think we’re born knowing it, but then I think, I don’t know if it’s developmentally or socially or so that we can go on to do a parenting role so I don’t know if it’s biological. But I think as we develop we start to lose that. And maybe that ‘s so we can take on parenting roles, we can take on caregiver roles.
Me: I’ve thought a lot about the socializing aspect of it.
Errin: I think there’s also a biological piece to it too. If you’re the most important person in the room and then you have a baby, and they need to be the most important person in the room to get their needs met or do they don’t they? I mean they think they’re the most important person, it can cause, you know, sometimes, I don’t know. I’m not sure how you measure.
Me: How do you reconcile that?
Errin: That’s the first time I’ve thought about that actually, so yah, that’s an interesting one to kind of unpack.
Me: Yah, I’ve been trying to do that. In the book, I’ve been thinking about, as a mom could I have done it differently or how would it have been to be a mom knowing that I was the most important person in the room. And there are a lot of changes that I can imagine would have taken place, especially around co-parenting with my ex-husband, with my first kids. Um, but anyway, I mean, it’s difficult. And it’s often the first response, like, well you can’t be the most important person if you have kids, they have to be the most important.
Errin: I think you can balance that. I think you can balance it. You know, being the most important person, what would someone who loves themselves do? All that kind of theme of really looking at your needs, sometimes we can overcome that with really good communication. I think that’s something we lack. Really communicating to someone and saying, what’s happening here, I don’t like it, or I don’t appreciate it. Or I really love what’s just happened. Let’s have more of that. You know we talk about the negative spin, but what about the positive spin. You know I really love that, that was a wonderful experience.
And even talking to children about that, and even people you co-parent with, and not just ex-partners or partners but grandparents and aunts and uncles or those people who are in our child’s lives as well. Sometimes we need to have time to ourselves, and do things that make us happy outside our parenting role, And bringing those people in without guilt and saying, “Here’s my baby. Please watch my baby for a while I’m going to go sit in the park and breathe. In and out. Enjoy myself.”
Me: Yah that’s good. I like that idea of going off and being on your own and taking care of yourself, but I also like the idea of being able to be in a room with my kid and know that I’m the most important person in that room even with this person who I would die for.
Errin: Yes. Because dying for that child is also your decision as well.
Me: It’s my choice. I would put my life on the line for that person.
Errin: And it is a decision that some people…
Me: And I’m the most important – and actually I feel like it frees me to be able to make that choice, without – It just clears my mind around –
Errin: Yah. It allows us just to live our lives more freely and, not more reactive, but, I don’t know, it just allows you to be more free, to react the way you choose to react. Maybe talk about it afterwards but owning those things that you want to express.
Me: I always like talking with you. Thank you so much Errin.
Thanks for reading. And here’s the audio if you prefer to listen along too.
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