Every year it’s the same song and dance; New Year, New You. We make resolutions because we want something to change but when actually faced with sticking to them, well, that’s another story. It is so easy to buy a gym membership and make promises to yourself to go three times a week but then reality sinks in and the gym membership is just another bill to pay. Although you meant well and had full intentions of following through, it is no longer the most important thing to do on your list because life got busy. After a month, or maybe two, you are faced with just how busy you are and your personal goals take a back seat to everyone and everything else in your life. Kids have priority, spouse/partner have priority, work has priority, friends and family have priority, daily chores have priority, it seems everything surrounding you has priority but somewhere along the way you stopped being a priority. You are so busy tending to the needs of other people, places, and things that you forgot the most important person in the equation…YOU!
Is it selfish to give yourself as much attention as you give to everyone and everything else? NO! It is necessity. Self-care is not about being selfish, it is about balance and survival. When we stop making ourselves a priority, the things we do for others begins to take a serious toll. We become overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, exhausted, and irritable, which may begin to reflect in negative ways through your actions, behaviour, and attitude. As the year progresses, the pressures associated with being everything to everyone become burdensome and the thoughts you once had about being helpful and giving are now a source of frustration causing you to internally question your efforts of living up to everyone else’s expectations, such as; is this the “me I want to be,” do I want all of this responsibility, when do I get time for me, does anyone really notice how much I do?
All of these questions and more start becoming part of your internal dialogue. For some unknown reason, the decision to make everyone and everything else in your life your priority took centre stage, while forgetting that your personal well-being is just as important. Maybe it wasn’t intentional to let it go that far but what you may have unknowingly done by trying to be everything to everyone is created an unhealthy dependency on you because something within you drives you to say “yes,” when sometimes you should just say “no,” or at the very least find a way to make compromises with others, to free up some time for yourself. While saying “no” may not be the response people want to hear, you must realize that sometimes it isn’t about making someone else happy, it’s about setting boundaries and knowing when you need to be the priority.
Resolutions don’t stick in most cases, but understanding the value and benefits of making yourself a priority in the mix of all you do for everyone and everything else, can certainly improve your personal well-being. Isn’t it about time you throw your resolutions out the window and commit to a lifestyle change that puts you first, rather than forgotten? After all, don’t you deserve to have just as much love, kindness, patience, and respect as you give everyone and everything else in your life? Change comes from within and If we want positive change, we need to start from the inside. So, this year, rather than making resolutions, give yourself permission to be a priority every day. Get your HOUSE in order first and then focus on everything and everyone else without guilt, without regret, and most of all, without sacrificing your own personal well-being.
Do something every day that makes you happy! Remember, this is not about doing something for someone else, this is about you, and doing what makes you happy. Does a walk in the park, watching the sunrise or sunset, a stroll on the beach, watching your favourite show, playing a video game, reading or writing make you happy? Then please do it. It doesn’t have to be something that takes all day, it could be something that takes 10 or 15 minutes, something that gives you a sense of calm, something that makes you smile, and something that makes you feel good.
Assess your obligations. This is so important! We all have obligations but sometimes things that aren’t obligations become things that have priority, even when they shouldn’t. When it comes to obligations, you are not obligated to be everything to everyone, so stop it! You are not a one-person army and there is no reason you should task yourself with doing everything!! Take your time back, set boundaries, have conversations, ask for help when you need it, and make this a priority. Grab a pen and paper or your computer and list your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly obligations and then place them in categories of “Must-Do” and “Self-Appointed.” There is a difference between a “must-do” and a “self-appointed” obligation. You now need to decide between what you must-do and what you can either eliminate from your must-do list or who you can ask to help you get things done.
A must-do would be something like work; however, in the midst of your job you should also allow yourself to take your vacations and personal days, and ask your co-workers and/or boss for help when you need it. And by the way, your vacations and personal days should not include checking or answering your work emails, phone calls or texts, so unplug, take this time to yourself and leave your job where it belongs…at work!!
Another thing you may need to do is to sit down with your family and have open conversations about priorities and expectations. Often times family members become reliant on one person to do all the shopping, all the cooking, all the cleaning, etc. Call a family meeting to clarify expectations and make adjustments to the responsibilities, so that everyone pitches in, and also discuss things that can be compromised on or traded out when needed.
Self-appointed obligations could be things like, driving kids to their activities. Do they have friends with parents who could drive sometimes? Discuss ride sharing with other parents. Your friends might be another source of self-appointed obligations. It is wonderful to have friends and be there for them when they need you but don’t allow them take advantage of you or your time. Set boundaries with people. If your friend phones you or has a habit of showing up at your door at 10pm and you are on your way to bed, it’s time you have that conversation with them-be gentle but firm about when they can phone or stop by, or even recommend that they phone before they just show up at your door.
Universe or “You-niverse” are things that give you internal balance. Maybe it’s physical exercise, yoga, prayer, or meditation. Whatever it is, make it part of your daily routine…This should never be a “resolution,” as having internal balance is largely responsible for what motivates us to do more, achieve more and be more. It is our “driving force,” so to speak, and it requires nourishment. When we stop nourishing our internal balance, our internal drive begins to deflate like a balloon losing air, and eventually those motivations that once kept us going are starving and have no power source. Fuel up, it doesn’t cost anything but a few minutes a day…if you don’t have a few minutes for this, then it is time to revisit your obligations and make it a must-do!
Just like your “universe,” your soul also requires nourishment. There are many theories about what a soul is but I think of the soul as the inner-most being, where your spirit dwells, where your most treasured and private thoughts are kept safe, and at the core is where all your feelings and emotions derive from. Your soul also directly correlates to your state of mind and how you feel about yourself. When you constantly put yourself down, pick on yourself for your imperfections, or harbour the negativity of what others may have said or done to you, you are giving all of that negativity power over you, which negatively impacts your mental and emotional well-being. Take the power back! Nourish your soul with kindness, compassion, forgiveness, love and respect every day. Rather than beating yourself up, practice positive affirmations and believe it, believe in yourself. You are special, you are good enough, you are beautiful, you are worthy, you do matter…some of these things we forget because the negativity can be all too consuming, it’s time to stop allowing the negativity to control how you feel about yourself and start believing just how wonderful, special and amazing you really are!
Your energy reflects who you are; your personality, your passion, your charm, your charisma, your confidence, your strengths, your weaknesses, your courage, your honesty, your loyalty, your creativity, and your attitude. In everything you do and everyone you encounter your energy is always on display. Your energy is the foundation of others perception of you. Aside from physical attributes, your energy is the first thing people see. It is in the way you carry yourself, it’s in your facial expressions, in your body language and in the way you present yourself.
Having awareness about what you are displaying through your energy can be life altering; it can be the difference between things like, getting that job you really want or not getting it, finding love or not finding it, making new friends or not making new friends. Your energy gives others reasons to engage you in conversation, trust you, accept you, and be around you. When you are putting negative energy out there, negativity is likely what you will get back in return. Just like karma…you get what you give. There is an old saying, “When you smile, the whole world smiles with you.”
Do you have awareness of what kind of energy you display to others? Is it false energy or genuine energy? False energy includes: faking a smile, pretending to listen, giving false compliments, or always taking without giving back. False energy is easily recognized and others will take notice of it, which could result in negative consequences for you. Wouldn’t it be better to have positive consequences and be rewarded for the good energy you share with others? Make your energy a priority every day; practice smiling more, stand up straight, make eye contact with people, say thank you, show appreciation and gratitude, be genuine, humble, and gracious. It is all of these things that others gravitate toward and when you show the good energy within you, you will be rewarded in kind.
Happy New Year to you and yours and may 2017 fill your lives with happiness, prosperity, love, joy and peace.
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