Perhaps one of the most repetitive self-help messages ‘out there’ is to put yourself out there. Not to be mixed up with being selfish and overly arrogant. But to put your needs first, before you attend to others.
And even if you get the true heart of the principle and you’ve even experienced those moments where you really did put yourself first, and felt more alive than ever, it’s got to be one of the hardest lessons to learn.
One that requires continual practice.
One that at first could come with guilt. Fear. Mega resistance.
Logically it adds up. Spend a day focusing on activities that make you happy and fill you with joy – means you’re a much more cheerful, energising person to be around.
When it comes to choosing to say no to a family dinner for no other reason than you’d rather stay home and watch Netflix, the internal struggle becomes real.
What will they think? Will I upset them? What if I hurt their feelings?
Here’s three truths I’ve come to realise (again and again and again):
- Holding back on having fun in your life doesn’t make anyone else’s life any easier.
- When you’re in discomfort, regardless of whether you’re giving to others and caring for them, that discomfort feeling is catchy.
- Acting from a place of truth and constantly showing up for yourself and your needs is actually super contagious, making you a beacon of light for others. i.e. You become a role model for others to live their lives fully too.
When I lose sight of these truths is when I get caught up in that anxiousness inside my head. I’m worried about what other people are going to think and feel.
Ultimately even if I sugar coated those thoughts to be about me wanting to make sure they’re okay and put them first, really that’s my inner fears of thinking if I don’t then they’ll judge me or think I’m not good enough. And if I’m not good enough then I run the risk of being left out, being alone and being unloved.
At our deepest core that’s what we’re afraid of most. As social beings we need to know we’re connected in order to survive.
Yet I also know that when I’m reminded of the truths, and I follow through, I’m rewarded with strength, confidence and an abundance of energy.
When I’m at my strongest I’m so capable of giving more. And I’m certainly not thinking or worrying about fitting in, belonging or being good enough. I know I’m actually safest when I’m at my strongest.
I’m constantly doing my best to remind myself of this. Particularly when I’m caught up in a shame storm (as Brene Brown would say).
You can love someone dearly and still choose you. You can be kind and still put your own needs first.
Maybe you’re not even sure what these needs are, because you’re so used to knowing everyone else’s. And that’s okay too. The learning process can begin right now.
You’ll start to notice those moments where there’s tension in your belly or heart, or your mind goes into overdrive.
And perhaps when you do, you could simply ask yourself: What is it I most need right now? And, what’s one small step I could take to give it to myself right now?