I'm going to let you in on a secret of the universe. It will make your life fuller, brighter, less stressful, and revolutionize the way you make decisions. Are you ready?
Put yourself first.
I'm not kidding.
I grew up in a home where putting yourself first was akin to burning a church down or intentionally eating all of the girl scout cookies before anyone else had a shot at the Thin Mints. In an upbringing where the philosophy of loving your neighbor as yourself was preached daily, it seemed we had a very difficult time actually loving ourselves.
Our default setting was permanently dialed to "self-sacrifice," and self-care was a luxury meant only for rich ladies who could donate money to the poor and also get their nails done. Long days of giving and serving lent themselves to short, restless nights worrying about being/having/doing enough. And nothing was ever enough.
As an adult, I've taken the idea that I should ALWAYS think of others first to an extreme. In my teens, it looked like giving everybody rides and buying people lunch with my hard-earned money.
While it looks impressive on the outside, over-giving is a long, slow leak inside, draining the very life force that makes living in a secure, connected, and engaged way possible.
In my 20s, it looked like pouring all of my resources (and other people's money) into providing medical relief for indigenous people in underdeveloped countries.
In my 30s, it morphed into putting my health and my family's financial security at risk because I believed in whatever cause I felt passionately about, and followed gifted visionaries with blind trust that left me devastated when it inevitably all fell apart.
I gave too much of myself, and even gave what wasn't mine to give.
I'm willing to bet you have, too.
While it looks impressive on the outside, over-giving is a long, slow leak inside that drains the very life force that makes living in a secure, connected, and engaged way possible.
"You are not required to light yourself on fire to keep other people warm."
So, for the empaths, the tender-hearts, the do-gooders, justice-seekers, the lovers and the fighters, listen close: Putting yourself first is the deepest and most loving act you can possibly evoke. Preferring everyone else before yourself becomes an impulse, a way of being that requires no conscious choice and probably gets you social kudos, too.
The kudos are not worth your life force.
This probably won't come as a surprise, but taking care of yourself is probably going to piss some people off. Because when you have spent your entire existence making other people's existence easier, those people sometimes get mad. They've relied on your burn-out to keep their own light bright. It's okay. Let them be mad. They are entitled to their feelings. They are not entitled to your life force, your energy, your finances, your security, your favors, your gifts of generosity, though. Those are yours to give when and if you can, not because you've always done so.
And here is the truthiest Truth: You get to direct all of that heat and love and life force right back at yourself. Because the brighter YOU shine, the warmer YOU are, the higher we rise together. It might mean you start small. Your life might be micro for a minute. You're going to practice being rubber instead of glue. You will have to learn to set the thermostat instead of being the thermometer. It's hard work, but it's the work that will save you.
While you are endeavoring on this brand new journey, there are some things I want you to keep in mind.
- You are not selfish for taking care of yourself. In fact, the world needs to you take care of yourself so you can do the work you are meant to do here.
- You are not mean for carefully selecting people who will treasure your light, and respect your boundaries. Your light is sacred. Nobody is inherently entitled to it.
- You are not narcissistic for believing in your own worth and guarding it like your life depends on it. Your life does actually depend on it.
- You are not bad for requiring a full cup. That is your cup's primary purpose: to hold and carry and be full. The overflow will be enough for those who are closest to you. Save the reserves for when life truly does require sacrificial action.
- You are not greedy for stoking your own fire and staying close to it's warmth. Your health and well-being requires it.
- You are not a jerk for leaving a situation that no longer works for you or your family. You are right to make a bold change.
- And most importantly: You are not a bitch for hiding a roll of Thin Mints in the back of the freezer where nobody will find them. They're only here for one month out of the year, damnit. Enjoy your cookies and give no f*cks.
Get ready, friend. Your universe is about to change for the better.