’m writing this blog on Mother’s Day. I had a wonderful homemade brunch my daughter prepared, and was thinking about my own mom. I’m like her in many ways and unlike her in many other ways (aren’t we all like that?).
I remember one particular conversation we had where she shared with me that she wished someone (one of her husbands) would have put her first and really made her feel special and important. I think she abandoned part of herself in order to be loved. Imagine how sad that made me feel.
But she’s not the only one I’ve heard that from.
So many of us are waiting for others to notice our brilliance…to notice our genius. We think it’s arrogant to think of ourselves as special, but if someone else can notice our specialness, our uniqueness, that’s not as bad.
Why do we need permission to shine a light on ourselves and our own gifts and contributions?
Do we sulk and pout if no one is recognizing how special we are? Do we try even harder to earn love? Do we go the extra mile? Do we end up feeling like a doormat, over-giving and being under-appreciated?
It’s time to break out of this trance. It’s time to peel off some of your layers of protection and insecurity and people-pleasing tendencies and love what is special about you. It’s time to be you and color outside the lines!
Self-Confidence and Self-Trust go Hand-in-Hand
Have you ever broken a promise or a commitment you made to YOURSELF?
Maybe you wanted to finish a course you purchased, or learn a new skill, or even spend some time on self-care. And then life kicks in. Someone needs you and you drop everything and respond to their need. Perhaps your internal mind chatter (mind monkeys) convinces you that what you’re trying to do isn’t important or it’s too hard or it’ll take too long, and then you give up on your commitment. Perhaps you’ve promised to meditate or journal or exercise daily…and you don’t (*hand raised here, for the journal and exercise part*)
Every time you break a promise or commitment you’ve made to yourself, it negatively impacts your self-trust. And that leads to a lack of confidence. You see, trust and confidence go hand-in-hand.
It isn’t enough that you always keep your promises to others. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an amazing quality. But it isn’t enough to inspire either self-trust or self-confidence. Being at everyone else’s beck and call leads to a life of servitude, and not a life being of service.
What comes first? Self-confidence or self-trust?
Do you consider yourself ambitious?
In 2015, Goldie Hawn presented Reese Witherspoon with an award for her work creating stronger roles for women in film at Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards. Reese had this to say, “I want everybody to close their eyes and think of a dirty word, like a really dirty word. Now open your eyes. Was any of your words ambition? I didn't think so. See, I just kind of started wondering lately why female ambition is a trait that people are so afraid of. Why do people have prejudiced opinions about women who accomplish things? Why is that perceived as a negative?”
March 8 was ‘International Women’s Day’ and it’s a day to celebrate women’s achievement. I think it’s a day to celebrate your own achievement as well. It’s time to stand tall and proud and embrace all that you’ve accomplished. In the workplace. In the kitchen. In the sewing room. In the classroom. In the boardroom (and maybe even in the bedroom!).
As women, we’ve learned to bury our talents and accomplishments. It’s easy for us to deflect and deny. We don’t want to appear too confident. Or too bossy. Or too self-assured. Or too opinionated. Or too passionate. Or too educated.
So we underestimate ourselves. We devalue ourselves.
f you want to be certain that you’ll never face a challenge or find yourself in a difficult or challenging situation, then it’s really important to have tame and realistic goals and dreams. Goals and dreams that you know you can achieve with minimal effort and hardship. Safe dreams. Comfortable goals.
However, if you want to have any degree of excitement and experience real growth in your life, then you’re going to have to make plans and set goals that other people might label as unrealistic.
These kind of goals often come with a high degree of risk (as well as sexiness and satisfaction – and who doesn’t want that, right?) You rarely know how you are going to achieve them until you get started. And more often than not, the result you achieve will not be exactly what you set out to do in the first place.
Chances are, the people you admire the most had some outlandish dreams and set some unrealistic goals. And they had the courage to take those first steps, keep the vision, and persevere despite challenges and set-backs.
Many of us have a deep belief (not shared with others, of course) that we are not good enough or not deserving of love or that something’s wrong with us. We may ‘consciously’ know it isn’t true, but sometimes (dare I say often?) we’ll get triggered and then that hidden belief ends up running the show and then we act as if it were true.
What does an “I’m not good enough” behavior look like when you get triggered? Well…..
Do any of the above behaviors indicate a healthy self-esteem? Not in my book. And I’ve done all of the above. Many times. My entire life. And I lost myself (my bold, brilliant, and brazen self!)
I lost my authenticity. I lost my vulnerability. I lost my courageousness. I lost my passion. I lost my purpose. I lost my dreams. I was living for others and when I bothered to tune into me, I felt destitute and bereft and disheartened. And these were feelings I surely didn’t want to face. They were more painful than the feelings I was already experiencing.
I’ve found that many of us are so focused on goals, achievement, workaholism, being productive, getting a million things done, and being busy that taking care of ourselves isn’t on our priority list.
Maybe you’re really good at juggling all of the balls you have in the air but not so good at balancing the rest of your life. That’s where self-care (and self-reflection) comes in.
It’s easy to let self-care slip down the priority list. With the demands of a job, family, and friends, there’s not a lot of time or energy to devote to yourself. And before you know it, you’re stressed, exhausted, and maybe even sick. It’s time to take back control and schedule some self-care.
The good news is that self-care doesn’t need to be expensive holidays or massages or yoga retreats (although they do sound pretty good). Self-care be can simple, easy, and straightforward. In fact, the best self-care is the constant repetition of small acts of self-love and kindness. Doing small things every day is easy and effective. In fact, self-care is not a ‘one and done’ sort of thing; it isn’t something you put on your ‘to-do’ list just to check off and then be done with it.
Self-care can be tiny things you do for yourself every day (and no, they don’t need to be time-consuming or expensive). I have 20 simple and small ideas to get you started.
Now is a good time to take stock of how well you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is a bit of a buzzword, but it is one of the most important things you can do for your health, happiness, relationships, and even your productivity. Self-care is the key step in being your best you. Unfortunately for many of us, it’s also a neglected part of our lives.
So how can you tell if you need more self-care? See if anything on this checklist applies to you:
You may like the ‘idea’ of putting yourself first. But liking the idea and actually doing it could be two very different things. And it’s easy to misunderstand what ‘putting yourself first’ means (at least, according to Janet). It doesn’t mean you do what you want all the time and disregard what everyone else wants. It doesn’t mean you become the #1 selfish B*tch. It doesn’t mean you ignore the needs of others.
On the contrary, putting yourself first means that you get to be the best version of yourself because when you are being who you are, doing your “job” and living your purpose, you plug into a battery of unlimited energy and, most importantly, motivation and joy, that lets you truly have your “cake” and eat it too (okay that was one helluva long sentence).
Putting yourself first means you are in balance and creating positive, mutually-supportive relationships with your partner, family, friends, and colleagues. Putting yourself first is a declaration to yourself that you’re engaging in an act of self-compassion and self-love - - and that increases self-esteem. And who doesn’t need more of that, right?
But getting into the routine of prioritizing yourself takes a bit of practice (or a lot of practice!). Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind while building the healthy routine of putting yourself first.
!There’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding between putting yourself first (and self-love) and being selfish. When our love is directed outward, we don’t have any problem with the idea of loving multiple people.
We love all of our children, all of our family members, our friends, and more. But for some reason, when we add ourselves to the mix, it seems like we think we can’t love ourselves AND anyone else. That if we love ourselves, we’d exclude love, care, and consideration for others and become selfish.
A colleague of mine wrote recently that she had been called selfish by very close people in her family when she openly stated what she wanted for her life. And she believed it. And she watered down her desires in order to make those around her feel more comfortable.
If we want to connect with our calling, make an impact, leave a legacy, follow our passion, live our joy, or express our talents, then we need to learn to embrace the idea of self-love / putting ourselves first and not fall into the trap that putting ourselves first or loving ourselves is selfish.
It’s Not Selfish to Put Yourself First!
Knowledge is one thing and putting that knowledge into practice is another. We all know more than we actually practice. You know that prioritizing your self-care is important. You know boundaries are key to keeping you healthy, energetic, and happy. So why is it sometimes so difficult to put it into practice? What’s stopping you putting yourself first? Or even putting yourself in the top 5?
There’s enormous pressure to keep other people happy, to be ‘unselfish’, and to take responsibility for other people’s emotions. Society wants you to be a people-pleaser, and that's especially true if you’re a woman. So, you might need some extra support to prioritize your self-care and stop the habit of putting yourself last.
Here are a few self-care myths busted to help clear the way.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.