As I was growing up in Belgium, I got into the habit of starting a lot of my sentences with “Moi, je….”, which literally translates to “Me, I…”.
My mother used to pick up on it pretty much every time and reminded me that I shouldn’t be starting my sentences with Me and I one after the other, as it was making me sound far too self-centered.
With hindsight, I think she was mostly trying to correct my grammar, but it instilled me with the idea that I shouldn’t be putting myself first.
The consequences of not putting yourself first
And I grow up to become an adult that would put everybody’s needs ahead of herself. And that usually included the dog and the hamster as well as my husband, friends, work, household chores etc etc.
Result: I became tired (no surprise), overwhelmed (again, no surprise there) but also resentful of the people I loved.
I would resent my husband for going out with his friends when I was so busy doing things that I could have either turned down or chosen to do later.
I would pride myself on being “always busy” and I would look down on others who took it easy (in my eyes at the time: they were slacking off!).
And the price at the end of the tiredness, the overwhelm and the resentment was a diagnosis of anxiety and a constant reminder from GPs and counsellors to take time for me.
Reminder that I never listened to, obviously!
Does that sound familiar?
It was developing a yoga practice that changed things for me.
Yoga taught me the importance of taking time for me.
It also taught me to relax. A word that wasn’t part of my vocabulary before.
By putting myself first every day by doing some yoga, enjoying a relaxation or simply curling up with a book, I am a much nicer person to be around.
No more resentment.
No more anger.
And a lot less stress.
So take time every day, just for you. You deserve it!
How do you put yourself first?
If you are anything like me a few years ago, the very idea of putting yourself first might be so foreign that you have no idea where to start.
So here are some suggestions
- Do at least 1 thing that you enjoy every day
- Switch off your phone so that you are not tempted to answer emails etc after a specific time of the evening
- Say NO more often (it might sound scary but people will only respect you more for it)
- Every month, plan at least one outing that is purely for you
- Do a daily guided relaxation. You can find a recording here.
- Take a luxurious scented bath
- Go to bed earlier than usual and read in bed before going to sleep
These are just some ideas. Let your imagination run wild with suggestions of things that you could do that would be really fun and enjoyable, even if not practical and useful. Especially if not practical and useful!