After providing over 15,000 hours in session and speaking, I recognize that… “You’re much stronger and more empowered than you think you are…”
WHY IS PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST SO HARD?
There’s a cost of not putting yourself first. And it’s pretty high. It could cost you more than a couple of your relationships. It might also cost you your health. Or even your job.
It sounds odd to think there is a consequence to not putting yourself first, but there is. Not putting yourself first in any relationship means your consciously expressing that you’re not important. If you have kids, it means you’re teaching them the same thing.
The real hard part is learning that in not putting yourself first, you are actually enabling others to manipulate you. This is never fun and it never feels right. So, how can you put yourself first? Well, before we get into that, can you determine where you don’t put yourself first?
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Episode 036 of True Connections with Weston Jolly
Transcription: Who Comes First?
You have an addiction. You put everything and everybody else ahead of you. You allocate some space for yourself but for the most part you’re consumed with putting everyone needs and desires first. Like all addicts, you lie to yourself, that putting yourself first isn’t a problem.
If you’re married, your partner comes first. This could include sexually, pun intended. In your relationship with your kids, they come first. If you don’t have any children, your friends come first. If you don’t have any friends, then your work comes first.
If you work for yourself, your customers come first. If you don’t have any customers, then “the deal” comes first. It’s just never you. Your body has been giving you hints, but you’re likely not listening, because you justify your actions as “good.”
Yep, I did say good. Because you think that it’s good to put other people’s needs before yours… (Pause) Whatever the reason is a big fat whooooo cares. It doesn’t matter “who” comes first, it’s just not you. And to really ruffle your feathers you have the same issues as a full blown narcissist.
What??? Do I have your attention now? I should because you actually enable the manipulators and the narcissists. Yep, you. Not someone else, you.
You may think I’m trying to provoke you but I’m not. Really, I am not. I sit here having rushed my version of breakfast, which everyone in my family thinks is birdseed. Actually, it’s steel cut oats that aren’t properly cooked. Nobody in my family will eat my undercooked one minute oatmeal- because it looks and tastes like birdseed.
That’s not all. I have a wet head because I didn’t have time to properly dry my hair. I did shower and brush my teeth, because those are necessities. Blow drying my hair… well, that’s in the luxury category. This isn’t always true but it is sometimes.
You may blow dry your hair and apply make up but not allow yourself to be first in other areas. Probably you have your own places where do you don’t put yourself first. It’s kind of silly that you wouldn’t take care of yourself first but there are reasons. All of them not good.
Let’s come back to that part where I said, that you are actually enabling the manipulators and narcissists around you. Just in case you possibly could think that you are narcissistic, let me tell you that narcissists aren’t going to be interested in what I have to say. Narcissists aren’t going to listen to you either for that matter.
If it’s not all about them, it’s not interesting. If you get that, then there’s no doubt in your mind that you’re even close to this category. A narcissist will tell you; “I don’t care about anybody. I tell everyone I care but I really don’t. I couldn’t give a crap about anybody. And that’s only the start of it.” Just so you know, I’m quoting this from a person I facilitated who is a narcissist.
So unless, any of that sounds familiar, you aren’t a narcissist. Are we okay to bury that thought? Yet, you have likely been fueling others who are takers of your energy. If you’re putting others first, narcissists and manipulators are going to line up to take from you. The nice thing is, once you put yourself first, all of this goes away.
Before we prematurely jump to the other side, realize that offering others energy can be habit forming. It can feel real nice to help others. But when you do this, absent of putting yourself first, you’re going to feel drained. That should be a pretty big clue, so remember it.
In this moment, I am thinking of a woman who grew up with a narcissistic father. As a result, there’s a certain comfort with her being in a relationship with her spouse where she is expected to be second fiddle. Whatever her husband needs comes first and whatever her needs are comes… sometime. It’s not too extreme, like it was with her father, and because of that, it’s not as out-of-balance.
To me it looks like a picture hanging on the wall that is one inch too low on one side. When pictures hang consistently crooked, after a time, you may draw comfort in that this is how all pictures hang. If you have any experiences like I am describing, you’re stomach might feel funky, and now you now know why. In terms of relationship, like the crooked picture, it’s uneven.
I like this term because in a healthy relationship with others and yourself it’s going to look level. I describe partners as two people that are 100% in. This is vastly different than business partnerships where it’s impossible to have a even partnership at more than 50% each. 50/50 just doesn’t work in real partnerships. For the record, they hardly work in business either.
At one point or another, someone usually the minority partner, becomes unhappy with the arrangement. If you don’t already know it, I’ve put something quit dangerous before you. If you’re in any relationship where you’ve chosen to be the minority or less than a 100% there’s a danger the relationship might blow up.
Okay, I’ve disclosed what most people fear most. Especially those, who are holding themselves in a minority position. And they’ll even justify, “It’s better to be a part of something than to be a part of nothing.” This quote, all by itself, does have logic. However, if you’re not putting yourself first, this quote and any reasoning to support it, won’t work. Here’s why.
The moment you put yourself first, there will be a change. These changes are made available to everyone around you. If you’ve put yourself in a submissive position and you now are stepping forward to claim equal space you will either be met in this new empowerment or the other. The other, can consist of being attacked, shamed, made to feel unworthy, or even “how dare you!” In every case of “the other” if this pertains to you, you have to be willing to let everyone make their choice.
This is a big deal. So much of the time, those who are putting others first are doing it for the good of something. As I’ve already stated, it’s not good for the individual not putting themselves first. If you’re married and have children, maybe you’re not rocking the boat because of the kids. Such was the case for my own mother.
When I was 18 my parents conducted a very serious meeting where my brother and I learned of our parents separation. Little did we know this was language to have us get used to the idea that our parents were way down the path to getting an all-out divorce. A little later, and after my mom was feeling much more brave to express her true feelings, she said, “I wanted to divorce your father when you were 10 years old but I didn’t because I felt you and your brother were too young.”
It’s beautiful sentiment, but it has a wicked backlash. Let me share with you why. First, my mom not putting herself first was no only a pot hole in her road to happiness it washed out the only possible path to her being happy. There was no happiness. And if you observe clearly, this included me, being one of her children, being used as the excuse to her unhappiness.
Let me put this in another context. I never told my mom she couldn’t divorce my father. I wasn’t consulted. At 10 or even at 18 years of age. And, I think this is as it should be. I have different relationship with my parents. I don’t need to be involved or even consulted in their romantic affairs. As they were adults who dated, married and had kids —this all predated me.
However, the idea that I’m causing my mom’s unhappiness, and or that she had to wait to get a divorce because I wasn’t old enough, whatever age that is, isn’t in balance. I’m putting this forth because there are a lot of adults not putting themselves first because of “the kids.” This isn’t just for mom and dad romantic reasons either. It could be; career, lifestyle, travel and a whole bunch more.
My point, even in respect of my parents going in different directions romantically, is everyone has a choice to put themselves first. Mom’s who think they are saving or honoring their kids by not putting themselves first are only teaching their kids, the very thing that they want to be free of. This is silly contradiction.
Imagine, if in the case of my mother, if she said, “I’ve not been putting myself first and I intend to change that.” Once upon a time, this decision may or may not have draw my parents back together as husband and wife. Again, this is up to them. Maybe my father couldn’t approve of his wife’s declaration to be a full fledge 100% partner. But that would be his choice.
Further, as “one of the two kids” we get to choose. I didn’t choose well, and I followed my mother’s lead and consistently put myself in comprising submissive positions. When I did grow up, and I’m still not certain what age that is either, I found that I had adopted the same anger that Mom employed for her unhappiness. It wasn’t anger that made my mom or even me, unhappy, it wasn’t putting ourselves first.
Respectively, this took me a minute, not only to figure out but to actual make the change where I do put myself first. That said, how far have I come, if I won’t allocate time to blow dry my hair or eat something better than birdseed for breakfast. of course, I’m teasing but I’m also being serous. Putting yourself first is more than a hope.
What’s really amazing to me is how putting yourself first is so compartmentalized. I can’t blow dry my hair but you can. I take time for myself to meditate every day but perhaps you can’t. Of course you can, but you know what I mean. What’s really interesting is how a lot of the time we make these choices based upon competitive behavior. You know, this for that.
This takes us in a whole new direction, or does it? Lack is the basis for all competitive behavior. Imagine putting yourself first that isn’t competitive with your; time, space or money. if you see it from this new perspective it’s the only way to go. Putting yourself first isn’t narcissistic. It’s just putting your thoughts, desires and life first.
Now that we’re here and you’re giving some attention to putting yourself first. Let’s do something kind of cool. Can you name in what areas you don’t put yourself first? Think of Benjamin Franklin’s invention of the Pro/Con worksheet. In the left Pro column let me have you list things or areas where you do put yourself first. In the right column, list out areas where you don’t put yourself first.
Can I be blunt? You may have a hard time writing anything down in the right column. And most people won’t even try. Why? Because if you list where you aren’t putting yourself first it may add up to something you don’t want to see. Hiding these truths isn’t the answer.
If you do this, you’ll find yourself angry too. My mom didn’t know why she was so mad, but if this is you, you know why now. You don’t have to be angry because you’re not putting yourself first. Take out a piece of paper right now. Fold it in half and or draw a line separating the halves. At the top column right the sentence, “Areas I put myself first.” On the top of the right hand column right the sentence “Areas I don’t put myself first.”
This exercise won’t take long and it will prove invaluable in getting these annoyances, mole hills, or big mountains out! It will feel great to get yourself into the position of being first. Stop trying to make everyone else around you comfortable by being small, submissive, or even accommodating. Everything will change if you put yourself first.
Your relationships will change and they will be better. The relationships that go away because once upon a time you gave all your energy in support of them, without ever allowing yourself to be placed in the first position, will go. Say goodbye and do so in honor. If you’re angry fine but when you’re ready drop it.
Allow yourself to be first in everything you do. If you really want to change the world it starts right here with you. Make your assessment list of where you do and don’t put yourself first and make an action plan to change this. I promise to stop eating birdseed and blow drying my hair in the morning if you likewise make your changes.
I hope you can see the humor in not putting yourself first. If this applies to you, it’s because you were taught to do so, or you assumed that this would be of help or for the “good” of others around you. If you really want to look good, take a step and honor yourself in love in this way. It’s deeply encouraged that we all make these changes now.
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