Enacting the concept of putting yourself first can be unexpectedly difficult when doing so in the truest sense. I have been working to understand what it means and how you focus on yourself above all else. This is the one common piece of advice I have heard from everyone around me “Put yourself first, everything else will be there when you come out on the other side.” The process of doing this is much harder than I first thought.
Growing up a middle child I was easily the most selfish of the family and I thought until now that I was just the type of person who was always being selfish. I was raised by two individuals who put everyone in the world ahead of themselves. My mother is and has been the most amazing caregiver to someone in our family for the majority of her adult life. She has been the one who has not only raised three children, but she provides full-time care for my brother in addition to taking care of the rest of us, including caring for those of us with cancer on multiple occasions. On the other hand is my father who would give a stranger the shirt off of his own back if it was the last thing he owned. He has shown me what it means to give and never complain – a concept I have yet to master. If you can imagine the most unselfish, unwavering individual who puts other’s needs in front of their own without complaining then that would be my parents. Their life story is one I only hope to tell and it would take much longer than an excerpt of a short blog posting. Having these two individuals as role models gives me aspirations for life but also could make it difficult to learn to focus on yourself first.
As to whether or not I am selfish, that is still to be determined since I have found that there is a big difference between being selfish and putting yourself first; come to find out, just because you live alone and only have yourself to take care for does not mean that you are always putting yourself first. You could be driven by work and putting those demands first, if you volunteer or have passions you might be putting your passions ahead of YOU. And while I have by no means figured it out yet, here is what I have learned so far.
- You only have one body for the duration of your lifetime: Cherish it.
The most important part of putting yourself first is your health. Taking the time to eat well, exercise often and rest cannot be placed behind anything else. Easier said than done right?! I am grateful for having started on the knowledge part of my health journey prior to my diagnosis. Two years ago I tried out the Whole30, an excellent experience, which taught me about nutrition and what different foods do to my body. Since that time I have been semi-healthy although I did let it slip from my focus. In addition, earlier this year I was convinced by a friend to try out Crossfit (On The End, Nashville). This bootcamp helped to whip me into better shape while also helping me to learn the importance of weights in addition to cardio.
These two experiences helped me in being in pretty good physical condition so that my body could take the surgeries and chemotherapy with little notice. Now I am ever grateful for the knowledge and am going to work on learning how to ensure that diet, exercise and sleep come before all of the other things in life. I had this wake up call at a much younger age than most and want to ensure this body can take on another 60 years.
2. Utilize spare time for the things you love and make you happy.
Take the time you have in life, after health and outside of work and kids to find what you love and make it your time no matter what anyone else thinks. For some of you it will be more work because it is your passion, for others it will be long walks or bike rides, crafting or tinkering around the garage. It doesn’t matter what it is or if anyone else believes that your time could be spent more wisely, it is yours. I unapologetically take time to write this blog, sit and listen to music and spend way too much time at long dinners with friends. These, among others, are things I love and I won’t let them fall to the side even in the busiest of times.
3. No is okay.
Before you answer when someone asks you to do something stop for 3 seconds and ask yourself if you really WANT to. Is what they are asking you to do something you will enjoy? Does it fit into your schedule without causing undue stress? I know this sounds simple and should be easy but for me it wasn’t. It has taken this life altering experience to learn that sometimes you need to say no, you have to take yourself out of situations or relationships which may have been in place due to habit, proximity or ease. When you are running short on time you must prioritize the most important things and be picky. I currently do not have the freedom I once did to see friends and family so now I have to take the time when I both feel good and am free to do what makes me truly happy. What is that for you? If you had to cut out 50% of your free time, what would you prioritize?
I have just begun to put these principles into practice and am working on finding balance. I would love for you to share what works for you and how you put yourself first in life, sharing is caring 😊
Today I decided to get out of the house to write and I came up to my favorite restaurant in Nashville, answer., a cute neighborhood spot in Sylvan Park which opened last year. I love to sit at the bar and have brunch while conversing with the bartender (Kayla) and the owner (Victoria) and taking in the scene of what a family neighborhood spot looks like on a Sunday morning. It is uplifting to see families and friends laughing, sharing experiences, celebrating life and just enjoying the time they have. I am lucky to have founds spots like this in the city I love. And I can tell you, writing with good music and excellent food is way easier than on my couch! Thanks answer.
And finally, for all of those who have offered your help, Thank You. At this moment everything is going well and I will be sure to reach out if anything is needed. In the meantime, my request for you, rather than helping me, is to take care of your health. Find one way to focus on your body and remember it is the only one you will ever have!