You want to find more time for yourself, but it feels impossible right now.
Between work, family, a relationship (or finding a relationship), your needs are something that you squeeze in between the hour of 6-7 am.
And if it doesn’t happen, then it just doesn’t happen.
Or maybe you don’t even think about squeezing in your own needs anymore because it feels like just another thing you have to put on a to-do list – which, at this point, is simply too stressful.
You’ll go above and beyond for others – to the point of insanity.
I can personally remember when I was still working as the Event Director for Hay House how I was proudly known as the woman who could achieve anything for everyone else.
One particular feat illustrates what I mean. I was producing two back-to-back live events with the one and only Dr. Wayne Dyer over a single weekend. He spoke in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon. Then, we flew to Detroit for a Sunday afternoon event.
Late Saturday evening, a panicked Wayne called me in my hotel room in Detroit. “I can’t find my briefcase! I’m sure I left it somewhere en route from Atlanta.” Everything he needed for his lecture was in that briefcase, and he was convinced he wouldn’t be able to take the stage without it.
My over-giving Superwoman kicked into high gear. I remembered he had his briefcase in the van to the airport in Atlanta, so I called the car company. At first, they said they couldn’t find it, but I begged them to check again. On the second look, they found it hiding under a seat—but it was almost midnight by then.
I called Wayne. “Go to bed, and don’t worry. I’ll figure out some way to get your briefcase to you in time.”
I asked the car company to put an employee on a plane to Detroit, and they said they could not do that. My efforts to find a delivery service failed; after all, it was midnight on Saturday night.
I didn’t sleep. At 4am I jumped into a taxi and used my laptop to buy the first available round-trip plane ticket to Atlanta. When I landed, I ran outside to meet the driver from the car company at baggage claim. Briefcase in hand, I went back through security to catch the flight back to Detroit. TSA stopped me and questioned me profusely. Why was I was traveling with only a briefcase? Why I was I flying straight back to the city I had just arrived from? I must have looked pretty suspicious. Who flies round-trip just to pick up a briefcase?
Wayne was just waking up as I boarded the plane back to Detroit. I called him before we took off and told him I had his briefcase.
“Nancy, did you do something crazy?”
I managed to get to the event venue in Detroit just minutes before Wayne’s car arrived. Tada! I could still claim my moniker of Superwoman. I was so relieved.
At no point in this whole scenario did I ever stop to consider how all this running around might impact me. I had gotten so used to thinking that as long as others’ needs were met, I would be fine!
Maybe as you’re sitting here reading this you’re thinking to yourself, “I’d never go THAT far – I’m not THAT bad.”
To be truthful – I hope you never do go to those lengths – no one should. But I do want you to stop and consider how far you have put yourself down on the list of priorities in your life.
You may never go to these lengths, but there are insidious little ways that we disregard our needs each and every day.
Maybe you start out by staying quiet so you can keep the peace.
You decide that asking for what you want for dinner is pointless because no one else likes what you like.
You stay up late helping your kid with his homework even though you have a big presentation tomorrow for the CEO.
Little-by-little you begin to give pieces of yourself away – until one morning you wake up wondering where you’ve gone. You can’t even recall what it feels like to express your needs, let alone know what they are in the first place.
I’ve had countless clients who have been forced to wake up to this reality because their partner or spouse – the one they’ve been giving to selflessly and completely – decided one evening that they were done. And the worst part of it, their spouse tells them the reason why is that they no longer recognize the person they are or that they’re just not interesting anymore.
It can be pretty devastating. Especially because all along, you thought you were doing the right thing.
So, how do you find the balance – how do you even begin to put your own needs first when you’ve been putting everyone ahead of you for years?
The first thing you have to do is be willing to tell yourself the truth. If you keep the blinders on about your current reality, chances are that you’ll never be able to take any action.
You have to be willing to tell yourself the truth about how far you’ve let things go. Take my example with Wayne’s briefcase.
When I look at the situation today, I can easily see how insane it really was to get on a plane to track down his briefcase – but back then, all I could see is that I was the one who saved the day. I didn’t let anyone down and certainly made sure that his audience didn’t feel any disappointment.
It took me a lot of hard work and willingness to finally change to see just how far I had gone.
The truth about my life was that I could only value myself when I was doing something for others – it was as if the more I did, the more I proved my own worth!
But when I finally took a long, hard look at what I was really doing, I realized that I would never go to those lengths to meet my own needs – and that had to stop.
Permission to put yourself first begins when you take the blinders off and are willing to see that your needs have fallen to the bottom of the list (or haven’t even made the list at all).
Taking off the blinders allows you to see that even though you may have let things get to this point, you also have the power to create space where your needs matter!
Now, I know that there can be a lot of shame around the fact that you’ve let things get this far – so in the process of taking off the blinders I often say that it’s important to find some compassion for yourself.
The reality is that you were probably raised to believe that what you were doing was right.
And maybe it was – but now, it’s time to put yourself, and your needs, at the top of your list.
Use this opportunity to take a look at all the ways you’ve discounted your needs, or even dismissed them entirely. If you’re struggling to see the ways that you’ve done so, find a person you trust (and I do mean trust) who is willing to help you see the truth.
Because once you can see the truth about your needs, you can begin to set proper boundaries, discover your own preferences and reclaim your right to what is important to you!
One place where I’m certain you won’t feel alone is in my Free Facebook Group, Transform Together. If you’re looking for a safe place to share and find others who feel like putting themselves first is a stretch, I promise you’ll find them there! Join me and let’s continue the conversation.