’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.
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:
!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.
If you’re anything like I was, the idea of putting myself first was about as appealing as getting a root canal. My internal mind chatter told me it was selfish. And even if I was able to do it, how would other people react? After all, I’d been saying ‘yes’ for so long, I wasn’t prepared for any negative reaction. I was firmly planted in my ‘good box’ and there wasn’t any ‘no’ button in that box!
How about you? Look back over your life and see how often you’ve been expected to drop everything for someone else, let someone else go first, or have the bigger cookie. Do you feel entitled to say no or to quarantine your ‘me-time’ whether it’s going to the gym or having a massage or an early night? You might be feeling overwhelmed by the demands of others, or even resentful that people expect you to drop everything for them. And when you consistently take a back seat to others, your self-esteem suffers....big time.
Here are four good reasons why you need to put yourself first.
Franklin Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Now, that was appropriate for the time he was living in. I think he was trying to be encouraging and let people know that if they can just “hang on” long enough, things will turn around. But who wants to just “hang on”? Not only that, but think of the bicep muscles it would take.
I want to thrive, not just “hang on.”
How many have you heard someone say “I’m hanging in there” when you asked how they were? Have you said it yourself? I know I’ve said it even when I didn’t necessarily feel sluggish, lifeless and a little hopeless. But we need to remember that the words coming out of our mouths are powerful.
This reminds me of a story about eleven people who were hanging on a rope under a helicopter - ten men and one woman...
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.