I recently saw a Facebook post in which a woman talked about how she’s making her marriage work now. In this post, she talked about how her spouse is now her number one priority. Because this person didn’t ask for my opinion, I did not give it. I want to state for the record, that neither my husband nor my children are my number one priority! Nor will they ever be. Does this mean that I don’t love them? Absolutely not. Does this mean that I don’t value them? Of course not. Does this mean that I don’t support them? Clearly not.What exactly does this mean then?It means that I will always be the highest priority in my own life. I can already hear some of the outrage, as people are reading this. So let me answer a few questions now. No, this is not me being selfish or self-centered. This is me, taking care of me. Which is healthy and necessary! Here’s how I explain it to the clients in my office: When you are on the airplane, who does the flight attendant tell you to put the oxygen mask on first and why? The correct answer to this question is, “The flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first because if something happens to you, what good are you to your child?”
When I first moved in with my husband and kids, I knew all of this information. And yet….. Somehow….. I had made them a higher priority than myself. This wasn’t an intentional progression, but it still happened none the less. As a result of this, I had lost a piece of myself. I no longer was working out that the gym, I hadn’t gone to pain pottery in months, I hadn’t gone to a movie by myself in years, and getting a massage was absolutely unthinkable.
Maybe you have some negative connotations with the word priority. How would this be different if I asked who the biggest cheerleader in your life was? It should be a concern that most of us are easily able to identify ourselves as our own worst enemy. That’s not the way it needs to be.
If you put yourself first, you have more of yourself to give to others. If you are constantly drained from taking care of everyone else, there are no left overs. The other issue with that problem is that it doesn’t allow for time to refill your own cup.
Even if you don’t want to use the words, “number one priority”, let’s agree that it’s a crucial move to go from your own worst enemy to your biggest cheerleader. Allow me to give you the steps to make this happen:
1. Gratitude: This more than likely seems like a “catch all” but it’s really not. Gratitude is a complete game changer. Trust me, when I began expressing gratitude about every flaw, every mistake and every imperfection…things changed massively.
2. Don’t sweat anything: I typically use the framework of “How important is this compared to my health or my sanity.” When compared on this type of a scale, very few things actually register as relevant. I literally apply this filter to every area of my life. Before I allow myself to get upset about a situation, I ask myself that question. If the answer is no, I made the decision to let it go.
3. Act as if: Whether you ascribe to the Fake it until you make it or the Law of Attraction, there’s a substantial amount of merit in the acting as if philosophy. It doesn’t really matter if you intellectually are ready to be the number one priority in your own life, or if you even emotionally understand it. What matters is that you are willing to act as if, because there is where the magic will happen.
4. Self-hypnosis: Let’s be honest, most of us have a lot of subconscious mind programming that includes messages like “If you are the number one priority that means you are selfish and you will end up a lone.” Not only is this absolutely inaccurate, but it’s not a healthy mindset. Therefore, I encourage all my clients to use hypnosis to create the behaviors and habits that they want to have.
5. Don’t instantly commit: Over twenty years ago, I watch an Oprah episode and they had a person on their talking about how to not overcommit. She suggested that before you commit to anything you use this phrase, “I need to check my calendar.” The person explained that this gives you the emotional distance to figure out if this is actually something you want to do or not. I have fully adapted this in my life. I no longer over commit myself and don’t instantly commit to anything or anyone. By using this process, it’s allowed me the distance to evaluate it I actually want to engage in the suggested activity.
6. Boundaries: I mean this in a very literal way. Boundaries have saved and changed my life! If I don’t want to do something I simply tell someone no… I don’t apologize and I don’t offer an excuse. Many of my clients struggle with the concept of no being a complete sentence.
7. Jenn’s golden rule: I encourage everyone I work with to treat themselves like they treat other people. So many people are unnecessarily hard on themselves, and treat other people with so much grace and love. How would your life be different if you treated yourself as well as you treat other people? If it would be substantial, please start that now. Do not wait.
I believe that once you see your own worth and value, it becomes easier to make yourself the number one priority. My experience is that once I made myself the number one priority in my own life, everything else fell into place.
Jenn Bovee LCSW is a spiritual life coach and hypnotherapist. Jenn offers a variety of services to clients locally as well as globally. Learn more about here here: www.JennBoveeLCSW.com