8 Ways You Can Prioritize Yourself
I wear a lot of different hats in my world. I’m a mother, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, an employee, a therapist, a coach, a manager, a co-worker and a friend among many others. There are a lot of people in my life and for many years, I chose to put the needs of everyone else before my own.
At the time, I didn’t realize that I was doing it. I just assumed that it was the way things were ‘supposed’ to be. As a mom, you’re “supposed” to give up time to take care of yourself so you can take care of your kids, right? There’s a big part of me that would still answer a definitive “YES!” to that question, but now that I’ve learned how to take care of myself, I see why putting your needs before your children and the other people in your life is so important.
Back then, I would feel completely drained because I would give all of myself to everyone during the day. By the end of the day, I had no energy to take care of myself. I consistently put myself at the back of my own line.
I would feel stressed and somewhat resentful for always having to give up the activities I wanted to do. I felt like a martyr and I didn’t like it, yet, I did nothing to change it. Likely because I didn't know any better or that I was too lazy to do a anything about it. I suppose there was another part of me that used it as an excuse. I wasn’t very motivated to take care of myself - so if I took care of others, it was the perfect out. Why I didn’t want to take care of myself is a topic for another blog.
I truly believed that if I put other people before myself, then I was going to be considered kinder, warmer and a more nurturing person, by them and by others. I guess I needed external validation to feel better about who I was. I think that I needed that external validation to feel good about who I was, because I didn’t feel very good about myself.
I also believed, that if I put myself first, then I would be considered selfish and self centered not only by myself, but by others. For someone seeking external praise and validation to help quench negative thoughts about herself, that was a big NO-NO.
When I made the decision to get healthy, it had to start in my mind. I knew through my education and my life experiences that nothing else had ever worked for me before and that the common denominator to my past failures was my brain. If I couldn’t change the way I thought, then my behaviors would never change. Simple concept. Not that easy to implement.
What I did learn, though, is that when you take care of yourself first, then you are better equipped to take care of others. You are centered and in a better space emotionally and physically. When I started to put my needs first, I found that I was:
centered and positive
getting more respect and acknowledgement from other people in my life
closer in my relationships because I felt more at peace
I also felt:
a decrease in stress levels
less anger and resentment towards myself and others
So the next big question is HOW? How do you learn how to put your needs above others? Let’s start with these 8 steps:
You have to stop caring about what other people think. Honestly, their belief system is something that you will not own moving forward. Have confidence in yourself and know that you are making the best decision for YOU and stick with it. What others think is irrelevant.
Determine whether you are a martyr. If you take pride in being a wonderful caregiver - awesome!! BUT, evaluate why you are doing it. Is it to really help them, or to feel better about yourself?
Lose the belief that if you didn’t take care of ‘them’ anymore, then they wouldn’t need you anymore. This is a tell-tale sign of co-dependence. You should not have to take care of someone in order for them to want to spend time with you.
Listen to yourself. If you are telling yourself that you want to go to the gym, go for a walk or spend time with friends- then listen to yourself and schedule time to do that. If you choose to ignore it, then you might regret it.
Learn to say no. This is a tough one, but it has to be done. If you don’t want to do something, then it is ok to say no. Give yourself permission to decline gracefully. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings and you’ll feel proud of yourself for sticking to your guns.
Find things to do that make you happy. Happiness is different for everyone. Make a list of 5 things that you think will make you happy. Make sure they are realistic. For example: you don’t want to list “win the lottery” because while it would be awesome, you have no control over that.
Make yourself a priority. Instead of thinking of yourself as being at the back of the line, start to consider a position at the front of the line. There’s no better feeling then starting to take care of yourself. Shift your priorities so you can make it happen!
Just do it. Sometimes we tend to overthink and too much thinking paralyses us. Instead of putting too much thought into this, just re-shift your focus and determine a few things you’d love to do. Then just go out there and do them.
If you start to practice these ideas, you’ll soon find yourself going from feeling drained to feeling full - and having the energy to take care of those that are most important to you. Besides yourself, of course.
This is your life. Live it. Enjoy it.
Bee healthy. Bee happy.