What it means to put yourself first.
Let me start with this disclaimer, God comes first, and the rest of what you read here is about what comes after that.
It has been many months of trying to figure out too many things. It’s been a long time of trying to find out what I have attained and what is meant to be gotten in this journey to self-awareness. I have always said that I did put myself first; I’ve always believed that I put myself first. I thought I was accomplishing love for myself in the bi-weekly pedicure, manicure sessions, and new hair character days, but lately, I have stumbled on this shocking reality of what it means to put yourself first.
Let us pause for a minute, and if you are in the category of people that I’m about to talk to, then let your mind wander to the times when you held back a persistent need because you had to fulfill something that would have given another person a profound joy, let your mind wander to the last time you needed to do something for yourself but stopped in your tracks because you remembered that it would be essential to make a sacrifice for another person. Now lastly, think about the last time you wanted to do something for yourself, but in reverse, you just figured your need should come after, so you went ahead to make sacrifices for love.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing disappropriate about going the extra mile for people you care about or doing that added something to make the next person feel happy. That’s not what this is about; I’ll break it down a little bit; putting yourself first is making every conscious decision and sticking to the belief that you deserve every bit of what you are willing to give others. It is holding on firmly and affirming that whatever branch of joy, happiness, sacrifices, and laughter you are eager to extend to someone is the same thing you should also give yourself.
This means that if you are going to bend over backward to make sure that other people are happy, remember to bend over backward to make sure that you are happy. If you need to go out on vacation or buy yourself that one thing you’ve desired the entire year, go ahead and do so without feeling regret or guilt. If not for anything, I hope this is a sign that you also deserve that wonderful gift you are wrapping in the lovely bright red ribbons for somebody else.
Now, putting yourself first isn’t simply about understanding that you deserve material gifts and vacations; it’s also a place of profound love for yourself, forgiveness for your mistakes as you have done for others, and kindness with a great deal of patience for all the things that you are yet to do, for the mistakes you have made and will make and for all the ways you are trying to figure out your next steps. It’s not a bad idea to extend to yourself that olive branch you keep giving out to others.
I remember my mother would say you cannot give what you don’t have. I used to argue and try to debate that line; how can she say you can’t give what you don’t have? In my not-so-little-mind, I would say – well, if I don’t have an apple and Peter begs for an apple, I can go and ask John because I saw that he had two, and that argument would make perfect sense to me, but lately, I’ve realized that the fact is you cannot give what you don’t have. So that means if you do not have love and acceptance for yourself, you will continue to be a false representation of the real you and every other attribute that others have put on you. In reality, you may not understand what it means to love another person. In cases like this, there are a lot of issues with individuals who don’t know, accept, or love who they are – the root of the evil, jealousy, possession, and all the harmful threats that find their bearing.
If you don’t have kindness, if you are the most critical of yourself, if you are unkind to yourself, or if you have not forgiven yourself for the mistakes that you have made, then you indeed cannot extend that grace to another person. What you think you have would be something that looks like but isn’t kindness. It could be a lot of talk about everyone saying you can’t give what you don’t have. In most cases, like mine, it’s challenging to grasp this meaning until you are living literally in this experience. Still, I see it for a fact, you never honestly know what forgiveness is until you no longer cringe or cry over that dumb decision you made several years ago.
Well, ladies, gentlemen, and others, I do hope this is another year that you realize that you also are worth every sacrifice there is to make. Remember yourself as you plan gifts and think of the many ways to surprise your loved ones. I hope you spend days with beautiful smiles on your faces for all the ways you have walked through fire and come out with scars, still beautiful inside and out. I hope we don’t get caught up in the race of wanting to do and be everything to everyone around us and forget us.
May all of our sincere and heartfelt prayers be answered, and may we all find joy within ourselves through our God and know peace and mercy as we experience it.
Put yourself first.