Putting yourself first
We all know that we should take care of ourselves. For most people, this usually means doing things like exercising, eating well, or getting enough sleep. Very few people make the time or have the motivation to do this. The general approach in British society is to be selfless, humble, and to put ourselves last in order to be of service to our work or families.
Now, I’m not saying that selflessness and humility aren’t good values to have. On the contrary, being of service to others by having an impact on their lives is one of the most amazing and rewarding things in life.
I make it my mission to discover everything that a client needs to feel fulfilled, even if they don’t know what those things are. Every client is unique, but a few random examples of fulfilment could be regular walks in the country, having an adventure once per month, daily meditation, putting aside time for journaling, painting... you name it - if it makes you tick, it goes on the list!
However, when it comes to integrating these fulfilment activities into their lives, it’s usually met with resistance. That inner critic grabs the microphone and starts planting ideas about us not being worthy of these activities and that we are selfish if we indulge in ourselves!
Well, the purpose of this article is to offer you a new perspective so that you can enjoy life and start “showing up” more. I shall explain...
Let’s start by tackling the big one - being 'selfish'. A very common example that the inner critic may say is "it’s selfish for me to take the time to meditate every day because there are so many chores I need to do around the house". Generally, what will happen is that we will caveat the time for ourselves with something like "I’ll get all the chores done first and if there’s enough time, I’ll try to fit in some meditation".
Now, the ironic thing here is that this person is craving stillness through meditation to feel fulfilled, but they are creating a to-do list to complete first. The problem with this is that they are using their brain when actually what they are looking for is to switch their brain off. When we get into list driven mentality, our brains are the best supercomputers in the world, as they are built for solving problems. Your brain will thrive on tormenting you by adding more things to your list so you feel even more unworthy of taking the time for something you want.
Imagine what it would be like if you gave yourself permission and took back some time for the things in life that fulfilled you. How would you feel? What sort of mood would you be in? What sort of friend, partner or parent would you be if you felt fulfilled?
You would undoubtedly feel less stressed, have more clarity, be more resilient, be open-minded, be excited, have more self-esteem... the list of positives is endless. Ironically, when we finally give ourselves permission without judgement to do the things we need, the inner critic starts to shut up, or we listen to it less, at least. Either way, this allows us to "show up" more and be our authentic selves - the version of ourselves that we love, when we feel serene, content, with no self-judgement. It allows us to be more appreciative of the present moment rather than being in our heads fighting that never-ending to-do list.
Being our authentic selves is the biggest service we can give to our friends, family, co-workers, and to humanity. There’s a certain feeling you get around people who are so comfortable and content in their own skin. It usually starts with us being in awe, feeling inspired, then followed closely with a tinge of jealousy because we all want to be the same way... and you can!
You definitely need to spend time reflecting on the things that fulfil you, or work with a coach if you struggle with pinpointing them. However, as Bruce Lee said, "it’s not enough to know, you must do". Giving ourselves permission to do these things is a different monster.
Changing your vocabulary will change your life, as words have an impact on our attitude. Our attitude determines our altitude in life, so let’s get flying!
Change the word "selfish" to "self-full". Selfish gives us the feeling that we’re doing what we want and don’t care about others, whereas self-full means we’re taking the time to put ourselves first in service of others. We will be of service because taking this time back will allow us to be the best version of ourselves when we interact with others.
Scrap the word "indulge", as it makes it feel like a selfish act. Instead, use the word "invest". All these fulfilment activities are about investing in a better you. A better you that will be more present, alive, inspiring, and creative, and will provide richness in everyone’s lives you are in.
So, in closing, you are worthy of doing the things that fulfil you. In fact, it’s your duty to integrate these into your life and put yourself first in service of those you love. So, go forth, be self-full, invest in yourself, have fun, and be awesome!