I’ve got a manifesto that I created about a year ago. I’ve got it saved as my phone wallpaper and it reminds me daily of how I want to live my life and who I aspire to be. From the commitment to keep being vegan, to how I want to travel and explore this earth as much as I can, from speaking my truth daily and to putting myself first in life.
They all inspire me, but I have to admit that putting myself first isn’t the easiest commitment to even accept as even being ok, let alone to actively live.
I want to preface this blog post with an acknowledgement that I’m not writing this as someone who is a saint. I do put myself first, I can be actively selfish (especially with sharing my desserts with people!) and I am human.
So I thought I would spend a few minutes exploring why I find putting myself first so hard and to see how I can actively live the phrase that I’ve captured on this personal manifesto of mine:
You must come first, dear one
Why shouldn’t I come first?
It’s easier for me to verbalise what stops me from putting myself first instead of the reasons why I should. And what it really boils down to is not having the approval and love of other people if I prioritise myself. Yes, I can feel inside me a real, deep seated belief that if I start to prioritise myself in my choices, my life decisions, my every day actions, I’ll lose the people around me.
As I write these words, I know they aren’t an accurate reflection of reality. Because those who love me will understand (or at least try to understand!) where I’m coming from if my need is to rest, to express myself, to be quiet or to not join in with something. And in always second guessing myself and basing my decisions on what I think someone else wants from a situation, I’m not really showing my true self to anyone else for them to be able to love me for who I truly am.
Negative Core Belief
I also feel there’s something innately wrong about prioritising myself and I think this stems from a negative core belief I hold. Words that come to mind when I think of putting myself first are selfish, self-centred, hateful.
So I can see why I’m so torn between wanting to prioritise, protect, love, honour myself through putting myself first and the truth of what I feel towards myself when I do prioritise, protect, love and honour myself.
It’s like I’m in a fight and I’ve been unfairly matched with the competitor. I feel like I’m in a losing scenario whichever way I turn.
Duty and putting myself first
I also think one of the reasons why I find it hard to put myself first is because of my core value of duty – doing the ‘right’ thing – that is deeply part of who I am. It’s a value that I see in my mum and dad, and in their parents too. It’s a value that drives my strong belief in giving to charities, being faithful to friends and family and why I’ve felt at ease working in public services for most of my career.
But I feel that the pendulum of duty has swung too far. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted what duty is – putting all things and all people’s needs over and above myself – instead of living a life that is considerate of others.
Creating a new way
When I look at this blog post and others that I’ve recently shared with you, dear one, I think there is a theme starting to emerge. One of wanting to live my life for myself. Of casting off how I’ve lived before.
It feels akin to what a snake must feel like when it’s ready to cast off it’s skin. Skin that has become too tight for its body.
I’m ready to start putting myself first. To start truly believing that I must come first in my own life.
And I suppose part of me is asking how I can do this. To jump into action. To change and adapt and become something other to what I am at the moment.
But I’m going to do something different.
I’m going to just sit with how I feel. To notice when I want to put myself first. To ask myself what I would say if I stood in the position of being my own best friend in these situations.
This feels better and kinder than jumping into doing. It also feels like action that comes from putting myself first – not doing doing doing out of worry that I need to get results to share with you, dear one, but instead just putting myself first.
I’ll let you know how it goes!