Are you like many – you want to take care of yourself but everyone else comes first leaving you depleted and worn out? You won’t reach your goals by putting yourself at the end of the line. In fact, you may not be helping all those you’ve been giving to in the most effective way either. Many of us assume we must give of ourselves to other in order to help them succeed. This is especially true of those we love most. We go about our days thinking about what they need, like, want, and how we can help them get it. This is great on one hand and not so great on another.
First, when you give to others first you deplete yourself before you can tap the best in you. This cycle eventually leaves you burnt out, resentful, and probably unhealthy in more ways than one. But many of us have been socialized to think that if we put ourselves first we are being selfish. Not so. In fact putting myself first allows me to give more to those around me. Not only can I give them more because I am more full, I can give them better.
When I have put myself first I am better able to focus on them with all my attention and gifts. I am better able to see what I have to give they may be needing, such as attention, play, listening, or space. When I can more accurately match what I have to give honestly and authentically my efforts are more powerful.
Take some time this week and notice. Notice how often you are doing things for others out of habit. Notice if it is truly what they want or need. Notice how you feel about these interactions. Notice how they respond to these attempts at giving of yourself. Notice if you feel more satisfied or less satisfied after the interaction. Many of us operate on habit or perceived expectations.*
If you are up to the challenge – take some time for yourself and then repeat the above exercise in noticing. See you if you notice a difference in how your giving changes when you are taken care of first.
*Expectations and habits are not easy to break especially when others are involved. Too much for this blog post, but we’ll discuss that another time.