3 Ideas for Putting Yourself First
You know how it is.
When you have something on your mind or are really focused, then things that align with what you’re thinking show up. All.The.Time. (Gee, could there be something about the Law of Attraction in this experience?)
This month I’ve been focusing on self-care and putting yourself first. So, I’ve been writing blogs, creating a new 5-day mini eCourse (email), putting together a new Self-Care Daily Planner freebie, and I plan on having a short masterclass next month. That’s been the ‘doing’ part of my focus.
And then there’s the ‘being’ part of my focus. I’ve been participating in a practice called ‘Counting the Omer.’ In the Jewish tradition, the 49 day period between Passover (the exodus from Egypt) and Shavuot (the 10 Commandments given at Mount Sinai) is a time for spiritual reflection, character development, and enriching our experience of the Divine Presence.
It’s a time for inner growth and reflection on the qualities of the Divine: Love, Power, Beauty, Eternity, Splendor, Foundation, and Presence. And for me, nothing speaks of self-care like taking time for personal growth, spiritual expansion, paying attention, showing appreciation, and being open to the wonders, blessings, and possibilities that surround me.
Reminders about the many aspects of self-care show up in my inbox daily. And then I happened to spot an email from a year ago from Karen Curry Parker about the idea of ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it, too” (we’ve all heard that expression and some of us might even say it). Here’s what Karen wrote:
“I’ve always hated that expression. Why the heck CAN’T you have your cake and eat it too? What if you can?
Here’s the deal. It’s not about having cake and eating cake. To have and eat your cake, you have to be targeting the RIGHT cake. YOUR cake.
We think we have a finite amount of energy, creativity, money, time, etc…
Which we do…IF we’re trying to eat someone else’s cake.
It takes a lot of energy to try to be someone you’re not. To do the job of someone else… To try to live someone else’s purpose…
But 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.
The bottom line?
Stop eating the cake someone else gave you.
Stop limiting yourself.
Find your cake.
Create a deeply aligned and joyful life.”
Eating your own cake is putting yourself first.
Maybe you don’t like the idea of putting yourself first. I get it. I was highly resistant to the idea for years. Why? Because 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 you’re acting from the aligned state that comes from eating your own cake. 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 are a couple of things to keep in mind while building the healthy routine of putting yourself first.
Be true to yourself
Remember what Shakespeare said: “To thine own self be true.” That’s the key to self-care. Listen to your heart, to your intuition, and do what feels right for you. When was the last time you’ve actually taken time to listen to your intuition? When was the last time you tuned in and determined what felt right, not just what felt familiar or responsible? This means you can no longer be at the bottom of your priority list.
One of the things I do every morning before I even get out of bed is to ask myself two very important questions:
1) How do I want to BE today? (for example, courageous, kind, present, productive, confident, happy). I tune into something greater than myself and listen for what wants to be revealed.
2) What do I want to ENJOY today? I want to make sure I have fun or enjoy myself every day. So, I think about what I know I’m going to do and choose one to really be present with and enjoy it as fully as I can.
These two questions usually take less than 3 minutes and they allow me to acknowledge my inner wisdom and set an intention for my day. That’s part of self-care 101.
Okay, so this is a hard one and I’ll be giving some techniques on how to say no in future posts. Learn to say no to things that are not important to you, are not in your best interest, or for which you don’t have the energy. Be clear in your mind about what you are prepared to do for other people and where that boundary is.
I have a friend who said ‘yes’ to having house guests for three weeks: a couple with a 3 year old. Toys in the living room were piled high; her normally calm house was chaotic and loud; the guests didn’t help with any chores and she had to pick up clothes on the floor left by the adults. Instead of being considerate of her belongings and grateful for the hospitality, they were careless, entitled, and didn’t respect her boundaries (I’m getting cranky just writing this!).
It took her weeks to recover her calm and even longer to get over her anger and resentment (and a big part of her anger and resentment was directed at herself for letting this happen and not communicating expectations and boundaries up front). Can you relate?
Instead of an immediate ‘yes,’ maybe an immediate ‘let me check my schedule’ could work out better for you in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re the go-to person for everyone else, you may find it hard to ask for help yourself. That goes doubly so for perfectionists! Learn to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, ask for help where you need it, and practice receiving it with gratitude.
By developing a routine of self-care or putting yourself first, you’ll have more time to do the things you want to do and you won’t feel resentful at being overburdened or overloaded. The great news is that you’ll see improved relationships built on honesty and clear boundaries. You’ll have more energy and be less stressed. Self-care is an investment in your health and happiness, and it’s worth starting that investment today!
Say YES to yourself by listening to your heart
Janet is a transformational coach who helps women move beyond the negative voices in their head so they can unleash their purpose, unmask their self-confidence, and uncover possibilities that they have been blind to. Bottom line: she helps them to stop settling, start experiencing the magic of their dreams again, and live their aligned life.