Take a moment and imagine putting yourself first.
Imagine not feeling guilty about taking a break from caring for others, knowing what you need and want, and not being sidetracked by other people’s expectations or demands on you.
Sounds wonderful, right? These are just a few of the many challenges women face every day when it comes to prioritizing themselves.
When you know how to tune in to yourself, you know what you need and want, and you know your authentic truth. With these foundational pieces in place, you begin to stand for yourself and protect your time, your energy, and your well-being so that you feel more abundant, calm, and confident.
Over the past three decades, I’ve had the honor of witnessing women’s courageous journeys from barely surviving to thriving. From feeling unworthy and depleted to achieving personal and/or professional successes beyond what they ever imagined.
And I believe this can happen for you.
In the beginning, most of these women:
- Struggled to keep herself at the top of her list of priorities.
- Thought that everything she did for herself was selfish or self-centered.
- Had difficulty keeping the focus on herself, rather than on her partner, her children, her extended family, or the endless people and things that pulled her away from herself.
- Struggled to tune into herself without all of the guilt she felt when she focused her attention on her.
- Suppressed emotions to please others.
- Spent so much time pleasing people she didn’t know what she wanted to do.
- Didn’t know how to discover what she wanted.
Do you relate to any of these? I’ve never known a woman who didn’t struggle with one — or all — of these.
One woman described her challenge this way:
I need to figure out who I am, and what my needs and desires are. I need to stop trying to please other people and take care of me!
Yes! I love her clarity. And, as you probably know, it takes a firm commitment and a lot of support to stop over-giving to others and taking care of you.
What if you could prioritize you, feel more confident in your inner knowing, and have the courage to withstand pushback, complaining (or worse) from others when you begin caring for you?
This is the vision I hold for every woman who faces these challenges and roadblocks to her happiness, her confidence, her sense of self-worth, and her inner knowing that she is loved and treasured.
When you prioritize you, feel more confident, and know how to stand for you, you will effortlessly feel filled up, worthy, and ready to receive all of the gifts that come your way. In fact, you are probably already receiving more than you realize, but it’s difficult to see or take in because you’re not used to giving to you in the form of high-quality, pleasurable self-care. This can be a difficult truth to face.
As women, we strive to be kind, nice, and sweet, and we are masterful caretakers. You may think, “I can’t prioritize myself. I have children, a partner, clients, and family members to take care of. They depend on me. I can’t let them down!”
You may worry that if you start focusing on you, others will be angry, and that feels unbearable because you already feel guilty when you put yourself first. Or maybe you give in when others get upset that you’ve turned your attention to you.
But here’s the danger: If you don’t take care of you, who will?
And how will you sustain your compassion and your ability to take care of others over the long run if you don’t replenish and refill your self-care tank? Many of us neglect to fill ourselves up, thinking that we’re doing it for the sake of being a good mother/spouse/daughter/friend, when we would never fail to fill up our car with fuel because we know the negative consequences. We do the same to ourselves when we stay too busy with caretaking or other people’s agendas, and don’t take time to replenish, refill, or rest.
One of the most common reasons women struggle to focus on themselves is that they believe — either consciously or unconsciously — that it’s selfish. You may have been taught that it’s self-centered to focus on you. You may know intellectually that it’s not true, but on some level you still believe it. And then, when you do take time for you and others complain, their pushback seems to prove the point and provide evidence that indeed, you are selfish.
I invite you to question the thought: Is it selfish for me to take care of, or prioritize, me?
Is this really true? And if you hear a loud “YES” in your head, what do you think the long-term consequences are to you (or your family) of putting yourself second, third, or even last?
Many of us complain that we feel like second-class citizens, or that our partner or spouse doesn’t put us first. But do we put ourselves first? If we don’t, then (respectfully) it’s just not reasonable to expect others to do for us what we are not willing to do for ourselves.
A lot of women I know are extremely busy — even more so during this historic time of surviving a global pandemic — and they firmly believe that they do not have time for themselves.
The truth is, each of us has the same amount of time in a day. When I hear a woman say she doesn’t have time to prioritize herself, I don’t think it’s about clock time. It’s about how she prioritizes her life.
This reminds me of a story I heard once from Liz Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love), who did a survey on Facebook asking people what was the one thing that stopped them from pursuing one of their desires. The #1 answer was Time.
Can you see the irony? They are on Facebook answering a survey, saying they don’t have time to pursue their dreams. That is not a problem of time. It’s a problem of priorities.
I’ve had a front-row seat over the years into the lives of courageous women who were caring for multiple school-age children (many were home-schooling), and at the same time were fiercely protective and unapologetic about carving out even 10 minutes of their day for prioritizing themselves. This choice paid many dividends in their life, including feeling happier, more content, and experiencing more connection with the people they loved most. When I think about their dedication to themselves, I am inspired.
We all have 24 hours in a day. I would love that you spend at least 30 minutes of a 24-hour period making yourself happy. That is less than 3% of your day!
You’re worth it, and you can do this!!
In my next post I’ll talk about the amazing possibilities that are on the other side for you when you begin tuning into and prioritizing you. Knowing you is the foundation and the source for everything you want to be, everything you want to accomplish, and everything you want to create.
Until then, I’d love for you to leave a comment below and share: what holds you back from returning to you?
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)
Hi, I'm Victoria!
I love guiding my clients on a journey of Returning to the authentic truth of who they are, Reclaiming what is theirs, and Receiving everything that is meant for them.
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I feel like I am so far gone that I don’t even know who I am to return to. I’ve lost who I am in the caretaker role to the point that I feel like I don’t exist. No idea of what or who I want to be.
Mary, you are here and I see you! I love that in the midst of feeling lost and confused that you are standing for you and speaking your truth. Do you have my 4 Questions for Returning to You worksheet? If you don’t, please download it here and complete it today. You can rediscover you, I am sure of it.💙
I feel sometimes I take too much time for myself after going days without anytime to myself. My balance is off. Then the guilt is overwhelming. Lol I am binging on my self care.
JeriLynn, I love that you are binging on self-care!💙
I have been taking more time for myself but the push back from loved ones feels insurmountable. I am judged, criticized, and met with attempted guilt trips. My family is so anxious because I am not propping them constantly and have been telling them I’m more than just a servant. They are perplexed and turn every frustrating situation into a blame fest on me. How long does it take people to catch on?
Hi Jennifer, I hear how frustrating it is to be taking more time for you and feeling unsupported.
I can’t tell you how long it will take them to catch on, but I do know that you can speed up the process by staying true to you, staying respectful to them, and refraining from defending yourself, or joining them in any drama.
You got this!!💙
I grew up being taught that my needs and wants were selfish and unimportant compared to those of others. My sense of worthlessness ran deep and resulted in me becoming a resentful over-giver and people pleaser. Sixty years later, I’m still working on internalizing the belief that I am just as worthy as everyone else. Thanks for your guidance.
I have been taking care of my fiancé who has PTSD with hesitation from him. I feel like I’ve lost myself. Anytime I want to see a friend or do anything for myself I get the backlash of his snide comments. Even after counseling he lite into me about how the counselor always sides with me. Making snide comments. I really am at the end of my rope. If I ask an employee at Home Depot a question I get the wrath and really rude comments like I only can ask him. I really don’t know what to do. I don’t feel joy and feel I can’t be myself. I have been trying to set my boundaries. Even today at HD walked away when he made a horrible comment to me bc I asked where something was to an employee. I told him this was my boundaries and I was going to the front of the store. I need help setting them. I hate walking on eggshells all the time. I love him but not sure how much more I can take. FYI he then comes over 20 minutes later hugging me and trying to be all nice. Insecurity??
Any suggestions? He did go to rehab for a month for PTSD but really said they didn’t work on that the entire time he was there. I find myself staring off completely numb. Where do I find the joy? I really need help.
Thank you for your comment! Vicki is out of the office until July 6. She will reply when she returns.
Hi Aimee, I am so sorry that I missed replaying to this post when I was out of the office.
With the passing of time I imagine a lot has changed . . . AND my suggestion is to completely turn your attention to yourself. When you notice the thought “I can’t be myself,” for example, ask, “How do I feel? and “What can I do to take care of my feelings?”
Most of us have been taught from a very young age to focus on other people and how we can get them to be different or change so that we can feel better. I can tell you from decades of hard-won wisdom that it doesn’t work. Ever.
The more you focus on you—your thoughts, your feelings, and desires—and the more you stand for your right to claim what you need and want, things will shift. They have to, because You are shifting.💙
p.s. Here’s a resource that may be helpful for you in bringing the focus to you: 4 Questions for Knowing You
I think as women we have it taught to us from the time we are little girls by society, our parents, the church, everywhere really that self care is selfish and that taking time doing what YOU want to do means to others that you must not love or care for them. THIS is the biggest flat out lie we have ever been told.
It took me almost my whole life to really catch on to this.
So I taught my daughter the exact opposite. Interestingly, she STILL became a people pleaser to a certain extent. Now, in her early forties she is finally coming back to herself. Mostly because we talk very openly about the subject. I think if women are open about this and talk to each other we can learn how to help each other. Let’s DO THIS!!!
I wholeheartedly agree Julie, let’s DO THIS!!!💙