One of the main reasons this can happen is that you’ve been putting others first for years and years. And, at this point, it’s getting old.
And, you’re starting to feel the effects.
You feel drained.
You feel like you have nothing left to give.
You’re starting to want to have energy to do other things.
That’s what 20+ years in the trenches does. It can really wear you out.
So if feeling like this is so common, why is feeling so stuck and frustrated still a problem for so many amazing women in the middle?
Don’t we know better?
The problem is that even though it seems obvious and logical to want to make a change and “grow forward,” it’s not that easy to put yourself first and honor your personal priorities and goals after NOT doing so for decades.
You’ve created a habit.
A habit of NOT putting yourself first.
You’ve been justifying your decisions to do other things the way you have been doing them for years.
And then, you keep practicing those thoughts. So you’ve created a deep neural pathway in your brain to think that way. It’s your “go to” way of thinking.
So what’s going on here is:
- You think something.
- You feel something.
- You do something.
And then what happens as a result proves your thinking.
Every day of the week.
Let’s take a simple example.
Someone in your world needs something.
It could be your spouse, partner, kid, boss or parent.
You wanted to use that hour for exercise or yoga (you’ve been working on prioritizing this for weeks), but you drop everything to help.
As you know, my jam is causal coaching and I was trained at The Life Coach School.
We use the framework of something called The Thought Model to help understand what’s going on up there in your brain. It helps you get the perspective you need to actually think on purpose to live the way you want to live.
Pretty good, right?
So in this situation, the request is simply a neutral fact, even though it feels compelling and urgent.
Maybe the “need” was about forgetting to run an errand, or to book an appointment. It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is what comes next.
It doesn’t feel neutral. And it feels natural for you to jump in and help.
The other thing that’s going on here can be thought about like this: you have a thought that is creating that feeling of urgency for you.
Now remember… you also have an appointment booked for yourself, with yourself (exercise or yoga in this example).
But you have this thought….that the request is more important.
Or that you want to make the other person happy.
Or that you’ll squeeze in your plans later.
Or that missing it this once doesn’t matter this much.
Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?
When you think about their request this way, notice what happens next.
You feel less committed to your plans.
You pull back from your commitment to yourself, and quickly start problem solving for the new request.
And there you go.
You haven’t put yourself first.
You quit on your commitment to yourself and put someone else first.
Now, you might be thinking…this thing needed to get done. It was more important than what I was going to do.
And you know what? Sometime’s that’s true.
If you don’t account for what YOU had planned, you’re not putting yourself first and honoring your commitment to yourself.
I’m not suggesting your plans never get bumped. Sometimes they have to.
But, when you respect your plans, you get right back in there and plan the change or your personal goal. You keep your focus on it.
And commit to it.
Not just think, oh well, maybe another time.
That’s the difference.
The other thing to really think about is what happens on a higher level.
It’s not that you do this once or twice. It’s that your general mindset supports rarely putting yourself first.
Either you think you NEED or SHOULD always put others first, or you’re uncomfortable putting yourself first.
For example, perhaps this is what’s going on in your mind:,
-maybe that it’s become honorable to you to put others first.
-Or that you feel guilty if you don’t put others first.
-or that it feels INDULGENT to put yourself first
See what I mean? So which resonates with you the most?
It’s important to really understand the impact of your decision.
What you’re really doing is putting others’ requests at the expense of your own personal goals.
There’s a cost to your choice, even though your choice seems helpful and perhaps even noble.
Here are 4 reasons to put yourself first:
1) You can LEARN to say YES to yourself instead of NO. Right now, you’re practicing saying no to yourself. This is a choice that you don’t have to make.
2) It’s empowering to take full responsibility for your happiness. Right now, you’re not in the habit of taking full responsibility for your feelings. Feelings come from your thinking. You basically create your feelings so YOU are responsible to create your own happiness. You can’t blame others when you’re not happy or content.
3) You don’t have to think of putting yourself first as a black and white issue. Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to mean you can’t adequately take care of others. Taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean putting everyone else last but it does mean that you prioritize taking care of yourself as well and keeping it top of mind. Your needs have to be on the list, or the agenda too. Believe me, if you don’t put yourself on the list, nobody else will either.
4) You can practice feeling more comfortable standing up for your needs. The more practice you get at standing up for yourself and honoring your commitments to yourself, the more self-confident you will become about doing so.
Deciding you’re going to start taking care of yourself is more than just going to get a facial or booking a manicure.
You have to practice believing that you’re worth taking care of.
Let’s pause on that for a second.
- If you can think thoughts that you’re amazing the way you are, you’re thinking in the right direction to create this mindset shift.
- If you can be OPEN to the idea that you are whole and good, you’re on the right path. Even a little baby step thought like this will help you continue this growth.
These thoughts will create different feelings.
Your feelings create your behavior – what you do, stick to your plans, honor your commitment, say no sometimes, commit to rescheduling your plans for yourself if you have to, pursue things like hobbies, try new things, get enough sleep, etc., etc., etc. and…
You learn to take take care of yourself as well as you take care of others.
You finally put yourself first. Now. At your age.
The more actions you take to finally be first…the more capable you will feel. The more you keep doing this, the more confident you will become.
After all these years, it’s still possible.
Actually, it’s more possible than ever before because you’ve opened yourself up to understanding mindfulness, being curious about what you’re thinking and being way more intentional about how you’re spending your time on this planet.
If you believe you deserve to show yourself kindness and compassion, to pay attention to what you want and need too, you will and act accordingly.
It all starts with your thoughts.
The question for you is, is this good news or bad news??
I think it’s the best news ever because it’s completely up to you!
Yes, you’ll trip up sometimes.
Yes, you’ll still think some stinky thoughts.
But you’ll be more aware.
You’ll be ON to yourself.
That’s a huge gift of compassion that you can give yourself.
And you, my friend, deserve to finally be first.
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You’re not alone when it comes to struggling to put yourself first in midlife.
In fact, as a midlife coach, I hear this every day. It’s no joke!
That’s why I knew I had to do something to help.
That’s also why I know it’s time for you to get the help you need to become FINALLY FIRST.
Make sure to check out this amazing new midlife membership, FINALLY FIRST! It’s for women in the middle just like you.
FINALLY FIRST is your virtual community to get excited about your life again. If you’re ready to learn the skill of putting yourself first and creating midlife on purpose, join us!
Community, coaching and connection are just waiting for you. It’s your one-stop shop for all of this midlife goodness. You know it…it’s time to get unstuck and be finally first!
The wait is over. Head over to www.iamfinallyfirst.com.