“I need to put myself first once in a while.”
“I never put myself first — I don’t have that luxury.”
“I wish I could put myself first for a change.”
These are the kind of comments I often hear from my coaching clients when we first start working together. A lot of times they look to me to give them permission to “put themselves first” every now and then.
They feel pulled from many different directions, stretched to beyond their capacity to stretch, and totally unappreciated for their effort to please all the parties involved.
Like them, I used to see life like a game in which we all would all take turns being first. The only problem was that it seemed like it was never my turn.
I let other people decide what colors to paint the walls, what kind of car to buy, where to shop, or where to go on vacation. Not to mention, preparing mac and cheese when I’d rather fix cream of broccoli soup, or going to see either Alien/Terminator/Monster or Disney movies, when I’d much rather see something with Meryl Streep in it. Since these were never life-or-death matters, I just went with the flow, and adapted to other people’s choices. I was the easy-going one.
The thing is, when you never put yourself first, people think you don’t ever want to be first. Some people can even get the idea that you shouldn’t be first.
This tendency brought me very close to a total break down in 2004 when I miscarried a baby. Losing a baby is traumatic enough, but when you haven’t been taking care of yourself for many years, the effect is much more damaging than it would be otherwise. On top of that, I was agreeing to make an international move that I really wasn’t really crazy about.
This blog, and my coaching practice, are part of my healing process and my mission to help other super smart, high-achieving women.
So, back to the question, when is it right to put yourself first?
Well, you’re asking the wrong question. Think about asking yourself something else.
How can I take the best care of myself so that I can serve from joy?
The best gift you can give to your family, friends, co-workers and other loved ones is a happy you. But only you can decide what it takes make yourself happy.
The first step is to know your preferences. Do you know yours?