I don’t really know what I’ve been procrastinating writing this post. I’ve known I wanted to write about the importance of prioritising yourself first for weeks.
I wanted to be able to give you a little light, perhaps on a day when you could be feeling particularly stuck. Something to pick up and instantly have some clarity. Maybe on one of those days when you’ve been feeling particularly frustrated and going around in circles (me, last night). To possibly see a way. A step. A slight turn… to shift gears onto a new track. So that you could know for sure that things really can feel different.
Perhaps I’ve been procrastinating because in some ways it’s one of the hardest lessons to really, truly, take on board in our lives. Putting ourselves first.
Even from a young age there are subtle cues telling us to take care of others first. To please them. To make sure they’re happy and taken care of. And this gets so embedded we forget a little who are in the process. Because we’ve shifted the spotlight externally.
We forget to what it could even look like or feel like to prioritise ourselves.
Plus, there’s also that whole fear thing going on, right? Like, it’s a bit daunting to think what would happen if I did actually stop ‘pleasing’ others. Because there’s kinda a safe feeling in continuing to do the ‘norm’, the thing we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. We get something from it. Recognition. Attention. Company. So it’s become a pattern of behaviour so engrained in us we don’t actually believe it could be different.
At some point in time we also created a meaning to that pattern of behaviour. “If I do THIS, then I will GET [recognition/feel loved/belonging]”. So we keep doing it. Over. And over. And over again. And it’s this very same pattern that is now, in our adulthood causing us the frustration, the pain, the discomfort. That feeling of being stuck at a fork in a road? That’s the pattern telling us, hey keep doing this same thing, keep treading this same path… while at the same time something deeper in us is calling us down the newer path, the one we certainly haven’t explored for a very very long time. And also the one that could feel uncomfortable. Until we find our footing and follow it’s call to a whole new experience. The experience of being more than just the ‘pleaser’, the ‘good girl’, the ‘hero’. The experience that really could make all the difference to feeling more alive and way way less frustrated and stuck.
Prioritising myself has become my #1 principle for this very reason. Ultimately the more I shifted the spotlight the greater my feeling of aliveness. The more centred I felt. The more certain of my decisions. The more energised. And I often feel like I really am doing great at abiding by this principle. There are times when I get reminded to come back to it, where I get a little side-tracked or lost along the way. Like when I fill my diary up too much, promise to squeeze in four meetings a day when really I know my cap is two, when I say yes to booking weekends months in advance, or when I am too lenient on my boundaries and end up feeling heavy and annoyed.
The principle might be sounding ludicrous to you right now. Or simply unattainable. At least I know that’s how I felt when I started to consider shifting the spotlight. There are three steps I’ve decided were (and continue to be) instrumental to taking the first shaky steps on that new path. And they’re totally replicable. If you feel like you’re at that crossroads right now, wanting to take the less familiar path because you can feel that’s where more of YOU exists, then these could be just what you need right now:
1. Learn to be by yourself.
Easy said. Not so easy done. Yep, it’s fine to ‘hang out’ by yourself at home. But for me, learning that it was okay to be ‘alone’ gave me the capacity to know that I’m actually a pretty cool person. I got to know what it was like to just be instead of do all the time. And in that slowing down enough to just be, all the crazy-rushing-around-always thoughts finally settled enough for that spark to show itself more. I got back in touch with the things that were most important to me. I’ve written lots about this one before – primarily because it’s had such a big impact on my life. You can read more about my coffee dates with myself HERE and HERE as they were the starting point. This one is also about things like going for a walk, without listening to any music or podcasts. Simply being in your own presence. Sitting in a park, simply noticing your surroundings. Getting used to that feeling of ‘being watched’ (fact check: everyone else is just getting on with their own business, they’re not so concerned about the girl on the park bench!).
2. Put space in your diary.
As a planner, organiser, lover of thinking ahead and visioning, it does come as an absolute surprise to me that I never really considered putting space in my diary for me. I mean I had space in my diary for exercise, study, work, friends, family, cooking, cleaning, washing, buying birthday presents… you name it, I’d scheduled it. Yet I hadn’t ever actually put an ‘appointment’ in that was specifically for the purpose of ME. Like just space. Like booking an hour in that says ‘Me Time’. And I get to decide in that hour what I most feel like. Or even grander than that, days in advance of no appointments, no social bookings, just full-on blocked out diary time FOR ME. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. If a whole day or even an hour sounds a bit absurd for you right now, why not start small – 5mins in your diary from the moment you wake up. Just literally put pen to paper (or keys to keyboard?) and PUT IT IN YOUR DIARY. The simple act of creating space for you immediately switches your brain into moving that spotlight over. And you’ll be surprised at just how much energy it creates in other areas of your life.
3. Practice saying No.
Literally. Practice saying No out loud – i.e. when an opportunity comes up for something you really don’t want to do (late night movies with a friends when you really just want an early night), don’t text them back or email them. Simply say No, out loud. Pick up the phone. Practice. It’s going to feel uncomfortable. And if you can practice on the ‘smaller’ stuff you’re going to be building your muscle strength for the next time a biggy comes along.
Keeping these steps in your focus, I’d love to hear how you start to notice a shift in how you feel. Your energy, thoughts, that feeling of resentment that was building against always being ‘busy’ or ‘on’ for others… How does that now feel?
When the spotlight is aimed at us, we get to re-energise and charge our tanks. That means we have the energy for all that ‘other stuff’ just not to affect us so much. The frustrations that were building, the stuckness, the stress – they all become a little clearer and much more manageable. It just won’t get to you at the same way it did before. I wonder how much your life will flourish as a result?
Now, we want to hear from YOU, which Step will you be taking first, or which do you already do in your life right now and how has it had an impact? Head over to www.facebook.com/thedaisypatchcoaching and share with us in the comments.
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