OR IN BACK BEHIND EVERYONE ELSE?
Recently, I was asked to share my story of transformation. On the surface, it is a story of physical healing and the basic emotional growth that takes place when one undergoes a physical healing process. On a deeper level and at it's core, my story is actually one of putting myself first and adopting Self Love. It is a story of seizing the life I knew I was meant to have, of taking back control of my destiny and learning to love myself first and always.
When my clients first start working with me, some of them desire a quick fix and a plan to get from A to Z. Many people want me to tell them what to do. While we can create the most comprehensive "plan", it is irrelevant if you aren't willing or ready to put your dreams first and take the steps to make them a reality for yourself. You can go to healers, coaches, gurus, enlightened teachers and mentors. But if you aren't willing to love yourself through the transformative process then the healing and growth won't occur. Only you can evolve yourself.
Each of us is worth it. Each of us deserves all the good in the world and each of us can conquer those obstacles that feel insurmountable. The trick to following your transformative path begins with SELF LOVE. It starts with putting yourself and your dreams FIRST, even though it might be scary.
PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST. NOT KIND OF FIRST. REALLY FIRST.
In my own story, I realized that in order to heal my body and create the life that I TRULY wanted, I had to put myself first. I mean really first - before EVERYONE and EVERYTHING else that I knew. EVERYONE and EVERYTHING: My clients who provided my income. My sister who was going through a life-altering divorce at the exact same time that my health issues hit and needed my support. My parents who needed me to explain my symptoms. My girlfriends who needed a friend to listen. My work community that required me to network regularly to remain successful. My social plans that kept my calendar full and exciting. The men who wanted to date the fun, outgoing version of me that I no longer resonated with being.
I had to put myself and my dream life first. The real me. The me that always knew I was destined for greatness. The me that knew I would marry the right partner. The me that came here to fulfill a purpose and make an impact. The me that at that time resided in a body that was struggling with relentless fatigue, digestive and immune issues. The me that needed time out to rest and recharge.
Putting myself first required great honesty with myself. First I had to admit that I actually had needs. Then I had to swallow the fact that if I didn't address these needs that my health and life would suffer. I would remain in a mediocre place of life being good rather than glorious. Then I needed to accept my needs as valid and I had to practice not judging myself for having needs. Then I needed to communicate these needs and boundaries to other people. I had to learn to receive support from people. And finally (and most importantly), I had to let go of needing to please everyone else. I had to let go of needing to be perfect. I had to let go of the fear that others would be un-fixably disappointed or damaged if I put myself first.
AFRAID OF BEING SELFISH
Many people, especially women, are afraid to put themselves first. Society labels this as "selfish". We are fed the story that in order to be generous, kind, loving and connected to our loved ones, we must be self less. There is a common fear that we will disappoint others if we tell them no or not right now, if we put our own needs first. We are so afraid that others will be mad at us if we do what makes us happy, if we speak our truth, if we have boundaries and practice self love. We are so afraid of what we might loose by putting ourselves first that we don't even consider how we actually feel or what we truly want in the first place.
The problem with this is that it keeps us from becoming our full, true selves. We become tired, resentful, lazy, needy and unable to give to others the way they actually deserve. However when we put ourselves first and voice our needs, it allows us to recharge our tanks, to be happy and full. From that place our capacity for others increases exponentially and we can actually give generously and thoughtfully.
WE GAIN MORE THAN WE LOOSE
At first it can feel counter-intuitive to put yourself first but over time you'll gain so much more than you're afraid of loosing. I have a client who was focused on being a good provider to his family. His initial assumption was that he couldn't properly provide for them if he followed his dream career so he remained stuck in mediocracy until he couldn't take it any longer. As we worked on developing and actualizing his dreams over time, he began to see how much more he provided for his family once he was aligned with his life's purpose and making that a priority in his life. Not only was he able to provide financially for his family, but he became a wiser, calmer, more supportive and engaged husband and father. That is priceless!
Personally, by putting myself first, I gained my dream life. Seriously. Looking back, I now laugh at what I was afraid to loose because those things are so out of alignment with my truth and dreams. They were simply familiar and that's why I was afraid to let them go. Turns out that I didn't love my old career and when I chose instead to follow my passion, I finally became deeply fulfilled and financially successful. Turns out that the honest, difficult conversations between my sister and I served as an opportunity to share ourselves fully and become very close and accepting of one another. Turns out that some of my old acquaintances and colleagues didn't interest me to begin with and when I admitted that I was finally able to create deeper connections with others. Turns out that the men I was afraid to disappoint by being the real me weren't actually conscious or grounded enough to be potential life partners for me anyways. They certainly didn't embody the qualities that my life partner so naturally does. Wow! Wow! See how much can open up for you when you start putting yourself first?
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
So, what do you need to be honest with yourself about? What needs do you have that are begging for your attention? What type of self care are you in need of? What might you gain if you put yourself and your dreams first? What tanks might fill up by taking the risk to make putting yourself first a priority?
Consider this: how might your genuine capacity and generosity for others expand if your tanks were actually full, if you truly came alive by putting yourself first?
PUT YOUR OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST
Putting yourself first is an act of self love and a generous, loving act towards others. It creates room for inspiration and ideas as well as energy to execute on them. It creates space to listen and hear others' opinions. It creates capacity to make a positive impact on others. Putting yourself first doesn't mean ignoring your children, your partner, your friends or clients. It means that you respect yourself enough to love yourself as much as you love them. It means that you prioritize showing up as the best version of yourself for them. It means enforcing boundaries so that you can tend to your own needs in addition to tending to others. Self love is an act of surrendering to our true selves and to our basic needs. It is an act of open-ness and receiving support from the right people on our journey.
Think about the emergency precautions speech that is given every time you take a flight. We are reminded to put our oxygen mask on first before putting it on someone else in need. Here are a few tricks to help you start putting yourself first so you can be happy, aligned and positively generous with others.
1. LISTEN TO THE WHISPER.
Honor your inner whisper by giving it your full attention and promising to follow it. Often times it is a very quiet voice inside that tells to us what we need or what feels right. Practice listening to that voice and identifying what you truly need in any given situation.
2. SPEAK UP.
Once we identify our needs, we must learn to communicate them. Otherwise change won't happen. Practice speaking your truth completely honestly and saying no when you need to. No doesn't mean never, it more likely means just not right now. Be grateful when declining invitations or setting boundaries. Let people know that you will be happy to oblige once your tanks are refueled. Answer questions truthfully, take a risk to say what you really think or feel. Ask for help. See what opens up for you.
3. SMALL DOSES WORK WONDERS.
Often times people won't put themselves first because they believe they don't have the time. I see this with mothers who over extend themselves regularly. People believe that they don't have time to rest, paint, sing, go for a walk or take a break. That's simply not true! Feel free to read my article on how you must make the time for pleasure HERE. A simple 5 - 15 minutes can make all the difference. Sit in your car for 5 minutes and meditate before picking up your kids. Paint for 10 minutes before you head out the door. Take a 15 minute power nap. Walk around the block. It is unrealistic to wait for everything to be perfect before putting yourself first.
I invite you to take the risk of putting yourself first. See if you can do so in the most loving way to yourself and others. See what tanks of yours become full and how your capacity for others increases by doing so.
Please share your comments! I would love to hear what shifts for you once you allow yourself yourself to step to the front of the line. Enjoy!