If mama ‘ain’t happy, ‘ain’t nobody happy.
~ A Very Smart Mama
As women, life has a way of teaching us that we are not doing enough if we’re not completely focused on others, our kids, our spouse, and everyone else who may need our help. Over time, we lose track of ourselves, who we are and what we need. We put ourselves on the back burner and wait until the stars align and someone sweeps us away to a tropical island…dream on, sister.
If we’re really lucky, we meet a woman who shows us the way by her own actions or lets us in on the secret she has discovered…her secret to living more joyfully while at the same time improving the lives of everyone around her. The secret is this, my darling, making yourself a priority is not selfish, it is selfless and the very root of everything good.
If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you know that if something goes wrong and the masks drop from the ceiling, you have to put your mask on first. That way, you can breathe and help those next to you. Life works exactly the same way. When you can breathe, smile, relax, and bend instead of break, you are serving others. Others need you to be at your best and able to be in the moment with them.
Those around us also benefit from seeing us take care of ourselves. It gives them permission to take good care of themselves too. We inspire others whether we mean to or not, just by existing in their lives, so we may as well inspire them to love themselves and cultivate their own self-worth.
Ways to Know You’ve Been Putting Off Your Own Needs
- You’re exhausted
- You are irritable much of the time
- You feel sad for no reason
- You wish you could run away or escape your day to day life
- You feel overwhelmed
- You feel resentful that others need so much
- You are waiting for someone to appreciate you
- Everything feels like a struggle
- You lose your temper often and out of the blue
- You just want to go back to bed anytime you feel stressed
Ways to Make Yourself a Priority
- Put self-care on your calendar. Set up a monthly massage, schedule yourself a nightly bathtub soaking time, schedule and show up for whatever recharges your batteries as if it was the most important thing you have to do, because it is.
- Stand up for yourself and your needs when others insist they need you to do something for them.
- Cultivate a hobby. Music, painting, dancing, pottery, calligraphy, photography, sketching…or tennis, swimming, learning a new language…there are endless possibilities, the key is choosing the one that sparks joy in your heart.
- Make time for your friends (especially those who you value yet haven’t talked to in ages)
- Make exercise and movement a habit.
- Make a list of at least 10 things you love about yourself, then post it or carry it with you and look at it daily. Add to it anytime you think of another thing to add to your list.
- Make that appointment you’ve been putting off (the one you’ve been avoiding or stressing over the most).
- Make time to read or listen to an audiobook. Reading/listening to one new book per month is a great habit to invest in your own growth and mental stimulation.
If you’ve been feeling the need to do something differently, try putting yourself first. If that feels scary, think of it as an experiment. Give yourself a few weeks to see results. Track how you feel.
See if you notice an improvement in energy, in the amount of joy you experience, and lower levels of stress and exhaustion.
Also, see how those around behave differently. At first, there may be some minor or even serious push-back from those who are used to you bending over backwards for them at a moments notice. It’s okay to allow them to figure it out for themselves. You may even find that the less dependent they are on you, the more confident and secure they are in themselves. It’s a win-win, really.
Making yourself a priority is really about self-love at the deepest level. It is knowing that you are worthy, exactly as you are. It is about no longer living with a victim mentality, but becoming the hero of your own life.
When you honor yourself, you are in turn honoring those around you to become the best possible versions of themselves too. Never discount the power of love, of loving yourself first and foremost, no matter how strange an idea that may seem at first.
My friends, I would love to hear about your own experience with loving yourself and making yourself a priority. Feel free to email me or chat with me on Instagram.