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.
1. 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 is the last time you’ve actually taken time to listen to your intuition? When is 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.
2. Say no
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?
You can start with the practice of saying no to low-stakes requests like ‘can I have another cookie,’ and you’ll be better prepared to refuse bigger requests like hosting the family for the holidays..
3. 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 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. As a result, 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!
Maybe you don’t know how to begin or where to start. Self-care and putting yourself first can feel risky and scary. If you need some direction and are ready to shift to what’s possible and re-discover yourself, let’s connect. You can schedule your free 45 minute Say Yes to Yourself Strategy call HERE.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.