It’s what I ask all my clients to do in every part of their lives. Fill your own cup, attend to your own needs, clean up your own mess, sort out your own life, love yourself, honour yourself, respect yourself, then you will receive all of that from everyone around you. It has to start with you. Make yourself the priority in your own life and everything will follow.
Putting yourself first means not compromising who you are in order to make it with anyone. It means not selling out your integrity or going against what you believe to be right. It means saying no when you want to say no and saying yes when you want to because it’s right for you, not because someone else wants you to or because you’ve allowed yourself to be manipulated into doing it. Putting yourself first means taking care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally so that you are able to handle the events of your life in a workable way. It means not living up to anyone’s expectations but your own. It means taking total responsibility for your words and actions and the consequences. Putting yourself first means loving yourself enough to let go of the unworkable expectations and judgements and opinions you have of yourself and those around you.
Sometimes though, people take this statement too literally and it ends up costing them.
Putting yourself first does not mean treating other people with contempt. It does not mean treating your family with a complete disregard. It does not mean disrespecting or ignoring friends and colleagues. Putting yourself first does not mean winning when those around you are losing. It isn’t about constantly needing to be the centre of attention out of a sense of self importance.
It is not a selfish act. You don't put yourself first by putting people down in order to feel better about yourself - that is the act of a bully. You don't come first by taking the trust that people have placed in you and wiping your feet with it like a doormat. It does not require you to be mean or arrogant or superior or to dominate others. It’s not about trampling over people to get to where you want with no regard to the consequence.
It’s knowing that in order to make a difference in this world, you have to be at your best. You have to be strong and awake and aware of what is going on. You have to be impeccable in your thoughts and your behaviour. You have to be in integrity and keep your lines of communication clear at all times. You have to remove yourself from people and situations that are no longer serving you in a loving, workable way that leaves no-one bruised or broken.
It means knowing who you are and being clear about how you want to live your life and share yourself with those around you. It means having clear, healthy boundaries that are presented and maintained. It means having effective communication with the people in your life that gets results and keeps relationships open and honest.
You have to have compassion and love and care and respect and honour for yourself to put yourself first, but if doing it means that you’ve ended up treating those around you in a heartless, neglectful, uncaring, disrespectful, cruel way... then you’re doing it wrong.
Because when you have love and compassion for yourself, you can only have love and compassion for those around you, even the ones who you perceived to have hurt you. When you treat yourself with respect and dignity and patience and tolerance, then you can only treat everyone in your world the same way, even if they can’t be the same to you. Because no matter what people say or do, it's totally your decision as to whether you will make their opinions your truth or not. And whether you will allow their words or actions to limit the way you view yourself and how important you are in your own life. Putting yourself first makes you rise above it all as Mother Teresa's words explain so beautifully:
Putting yourself first will ensure that everyone wins and that everyone gets the best of who you are.