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.
One of my favorite stories tells about the renowned sage Rabbi Zusya who wept as he lay on his deathbed. His students, gathered by his side, were astonished. “Rabbi, why do you weep?” one of them asked. “If anyone is assured of a place in heaven, it is you!”
“I’ll tell you why,” the learned one answered softly. “If, when I approach the gates of heaven, I am asked, “Why were you not a Moses? I will answer, ‘Because I was not born to do what Moses did.’ And if the heavenly host argues, ‘You did not perform the miracles that Elijah did,” I shall tell them, “Those were Elijah’s miracles to perform, not mine.” My friends, the only question I fear I shall be unable to answer is: “Why were you not a Rabbi Zusya?’”
Every one of us comes into this world with a unique purpose. Just as there are no two snowflakes alike or no two fingerprints alike, our life’s journey and our life’s purpose is a personal adventure.
Never compare yourself with the accomplishments of others, because you are not supposed to be like them.
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...
"I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. ~Og Mandino
So many women have the burning desire to know what their purpose is. As a matter of fact, I was one of those women years ago. I just knew there was some reason I was here; I sensed there was a greater purpose and vision for my life than I was living but I couldn’t see what it was. I read books, I took classes, I attended seminars, I took all of the personality quizzes (well, I still do that), and I even asked the opinions of others.
When I looked around me, it didn’t seem like other women were questioning their purpose. It seemed to me they were content, confident, and happy. I just knew there was a missing piece to my life and I couldn’t figure out what it was!!! I felt like there was something wrong with me.
On the surface, my life looked wonderful. I had a good job and I was successful and respected at work. I was a homeowner. I was involved in community activities as well as the PTA and a leadership council for the elementary school my daughter attended.
And yet, something was missing. I was filling up my time with activities trying to find the thing that lit me up (or maybe I was just being busy so I wouldn’t have time to get even more discouraged because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, but was just going ‘through the motions.’)
Have you ever felt that way? Do you currently feel that way?
“There is only one you. Stop trying to devalue yourself by trying to be a copy of someone else.” ~Susie Clevenger
Are you devaluing yourself? Maybe without even realizing it?
Oy vey! I’ve got to move on to a happier topic!!
“When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” ~ Walter Payton
Our greatness, when reflected back to us, can be overwhelming.
We often don’t realize the impact we have on others, even when we’re just being ourselves. Who we are matters and what we do matters.
I was at a birthday party recently and the guest of honor was showered with accolades, poems, stories, and reflections on how she made a difference in so many lives. She shared, with a voice full of gratitude and tears, how all of this was very difficult to accept and embody. However, since she trusted us to tell the truth, she would do her best to open up and accept it all and allow the fullness of her impact to sink in.
I was moved by her honesty, openness, and authenticity. I’ve felt the same thing myself, but instead of sharing how difficult it was to take in, I just slapped a smile on my face and went numb. It wasn’t until much later (when I was alone and could process things) that I allowed myself to soak in the experience.
But in the meantime, I robbed myself of the opportunity to have a peak experience in the moment and I robbed the giver of being able to fully show my appreciation and gratitude for the emotional gifts that had come to me.
When you’re greatness has been reflected back to you, how have you responded?
“Life isn’t meant to be tolerated. It’s meant to be savored, devoured, marrow sucked and
How do you measure your life?
Many of us measure of our life based on our accomplishments, accolades, and achievements. But what happens if those aren’t as plentiful as we hoped for? Do we then measure our life as a failure? Or hum-drum? Or mediocre?
If we only measure our life based on the ‘big’ things, we can miss the precious moments in-between. We can get so caught up on the championships, the awards, and the ‘attaboys’ (or ‘attagirls) that anything less than a peak experience doesn’t count and we can find ourselves with low self-confidence and low self-esteem.
Facebook envy is a very real phenomenon when we measure our life based on what others are posting.
I love my peak experiences and big moments. I love basking in the afterflow of those things I’d be proud to write in my bio.
But there’s more to me (and my life) than that….so much more.
Life isn’t just about the great and the grand, the big moments and the applause, the peak experiences and the victories. If we measure our life based on these things, we are basing our life using someone else’s rules.
Been there. Done that.
“We write, we speak, we tell the truth about our lives- that's what we do. Why is being yourself considered brave? Or something you have to build up to doing? What is dying inside you while you wait until you are brave or courageous enough to be yourself? How many years are going by while we work on self-improvement, self-discovery and trying to turn ourselves into someone we are not?” ~ Denise Dee
I spent a lot of 2018 on ‘being myself.’
Of course, I had to first figure out who I was, and that’s different than who I thought I was. You know, the me without the labels or the ‘shoulds.’ So, when 2019 was approaching and my inbox was filled with promises to help me create my best year, programs to help me have my most productive year, or products to help me have my most successful year, I resisted that hype.
That’s not to say I didn’t do anything, because I did. But I did things ‘my way’ based on my work on ‘being myself.’ We’re almost at the end of January and I’m still continuing with the forward momentum I started at the beginning of the year. I haven’t’ abandoned my resolutions (of course, I don’t make any), but I haven’t abandoned any goals, desires, or dreams either. I feel like I’m moving in the direction I want to go with poise and purpose.
So, I thought I’d share some of what I did and maybe you can use these as an example of something you can try (maybe starting February 1) and see if by the end of February you still feel like you’re moving in the direction you want to go with poise and purpose.
It’s never too late to start.
I celebrated my accomplishments in 2018
I looked back at my calendar (and the notes from the Mustang Sallies group) and reflected on the areas that went well and the fun I had. I listed things like taking road trips, losing 20 pounds, purchasing a home, beginning to learn Hebrew, speaking at Unity Churches, and launching new products (and of course, much more). Then I reflected on how I did these things (taking action, scheduling it on my calendar, asking for help, etc.) and if there was further progress I wanted to make on any of these accomplishments.
Takeaway: This got me in a really good mood and made me realize all the opportunities that came my way, the impact I had, the fun I had, and how I got a lot of things right. There was a lot to be grateful for.
“Success is a state of mind. If you want success,
Success. We all want it and so few of us think we are it.
Let me ask you a question: what is your definition of success? Did you get this definition from your parents or teachers? Or maybe from your employer? Or maybe from the gazillion success gurus out there?
When we rely on other people to determine what success ‘looks like,’ then it’s often very challenging to live up to that determination.
Here’s what Webster has to say: “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” And what do all of those have in common? They are outward reflections that other people can judge. Ick.
Can peace of mind be considered success? What about self-satisfaction? Or maybe self-development and personal growth can be considered success. Personally, I love the idea of success stemming from each one of us living like we matter.
I subscribe to a lot of blogs, videos, and newsletters (too many). I downsize my subscriptions and then I upsize – and it’s time for another downsize. And so many of these blogs, videos, and newsletters focus on productivity and success. And while I get inspiration from many of them, it seems they mostly focus on externals like money and business building (okay, okay – those are the types of things I subscribe to).
My point of view is that success is NOT just about those things that we can measure.
Success isn’t about what we can ‘show off’ but how we ‘show up.’
“I gave myself permission to feel and experience all of my emotions. In order to do that, I had to stop being afraid to feel. In order to do that, I taught myself to believe that no matter what I felt or what happened when I felt it, I would be okay.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
Okay, I just posted a video called “Clarity is Power” and now I’m posting a blog called “Permission is Power.” So which is it? What’s more powerful, clarity or permission? And what does permission have to do with power? I’m glad you asked.
We get hung up on clarity.
I speak to many women who think that once they have this magical, mystical thing called ‘clarity’ then they’ll know their purpose, they’ll be happy, they’ll be able to move forward, and they’ll have confidence. But I think that we (especially women) use this lack of clarity as our excuse to stay stuck, to treat our purpose and our passion as a hobby, or to put off being bold or outrageous.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Clarity is a powerful motivator and accelerator. With clarity we have a sense of direction and vision. Our affirmations, visualizations, and meditations can be specific and juicy. Clarity is our guide and compass.
But what if we are afraid? Afraid to shine, afraid to stand out, afraid to lead, afraid to soar?
Sometimes we have blocks to our own brilliance and magnificence and then clarity eludes us. But if we say we want clarity, then it looks like we are blocked only because we don’t know where we should be going. Not because we are afraid to move or make a decision.
This is where permission comes in.
Let me ask you a question (or two or three). Are you feeling stuck? Do you feel frustrated or trapped? Are you embarrassed or even ashamed that you aren’t more successful or that you haven’t achieved more?
What you may need is permission for your desire.
Janet Kingsley is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who helps clients transform frustration to focus, confusion to clarity, and self-doubt to self-confidence.