Over the past several months, I have been sharing excerpts from my memoir that I'm writing, titled Digesting Life. The story of my struggle and recovery from an eating disorder is the basis for what led me to create the KARMA Method, the signature coaching and therapeutic method used by Bespoke Wellness Partners. My hope is that maybe some of these stories will resonate with you or make you more aware of where you are on your specific journey with whatever struggles you may be facing. Below is another excerpt on today's topic of making yourself a priority.
I started to realize that I had some extraordinary people who loved and cared for me. I became a little optimistic about my future, which I had never been before. Being independent and competent gave me the confidence to express myself and my outgoing personality. At times I felt that I was inattentive and impulsive, but I was also able to get myself out of whatever situation I got into and I learned some helpful survival strategies that helped me both personally and professionally.
Most importantly, I surrounded myself with people who provided me with a safe space and allowed me to express my true self. Those people accepted me with my good qualities and my less good qualities. I learned that I can say no to certain things and still remain in a relationship and have people respect my opinion even when they disagree. I felt that I was on a journey of finding out who I was and what I wanted to accomplish.
Though my binges and purges came less often, they still happened. But when I went through my diaries and read about my binges and purges episodes, I realized that they increased in their intensity and quantity when I repressed my true feelings or behaved in a way that didn't represent my wishes. I was so glad that I documented my activities, thoughts, and feelings as it allowed me to reflect back and understand things in a better and more constructive way.
I realized that I was unhappy being far away from the man I loved and I needed to take action and do something about it. It was time for a change. The change wouldn’t be only physical, but also internal. The internal change was that I would start expressing my needs and myself and make myself a priority. I knew that if I kept suppressing my wishes and feelings that I would regress and be more symptomatic and I felt that I had had enough. I had cried for as long as I could remember, and it was time to change and speak up my mind. This was a huge realization for me. An eye-opening experience that paved my way to self-care, love, and respect.
When you think about paying attention to yourself—your dreams, your body, your mental health, and everything that has to do with you—what is it that you are thinking about? How would you feel if just for one hour (and maybe we can even stretch this a little bit to one day), you only think about you and your needs? Many of us confuse taking care of ourselves with being selfish or inconsiderate, but if you truly give this some thought, you’ll realize that in order to be all that you want for everyone else, you must first take care of yourself and make yourself a priority. That’s why with a new year coming I thought that it was a good idea to give you a little bit of a push and help you make yourself the number one priority!
Step 1: Tell yourself it’s OK to be selfish.
While saying “selfish” has negative connotations, I am using it purposely because I think that it is important that you know that it is OK to take care of yourself and attend to your needs. So, the first thing you must do is accept that taking care of yourself is OK. One thing that might sound silly but actually is extremely helpful is to stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself and ask yourself the following questions: What do I want? What do I need? How can I make myself feel better at this moment? If you can make yourself write down the answers, that’s even better, but even if you just give yourself a few seconds to look in the mirror and show yourself the love and care that you deserve, that’s a great start and you are already on the right path to making yourself a priority!
Step 2: Write down three things that are priorities in your life.
I would actually encourage you to write down a list of 10 things that are important to you and then rewrite them in order of priority. It might help to highlight the things that are important to you, then, take a look at the list and think about everything that you have done the past week. Was any of what you did related to the list? Let’s even be more specific and ask yourself if what you’ve done in the past week was related to the top three things that are important to you or that you want to achieve.
With a new year, it is important that you let go of things that are not meaningful in your life and that are not serving you well for whatever reason. If for some reason you find that you’re having a hard time letting go of some things with certain people, ask yourself: why? Why is it that I’m holding on to things that make me feel unhappy or unworthy or whatever it is that is not positive and is not contributing to my well-being?
Step 3: Identify what is holding you back.
This can be a little bit overwhelming because it involves a lot of thoughts and emotions and you might have to dig deeper and consult with a mental health professional, but try to get a list of at least three things that you know hold you back from achieving your goals and making yourself a priority! What did you come up with? For most people, fears and anxiety are at the core of why they’re not making themselves a priority. Whatever it is standing in your way, once again, ask yourself why. If, for example, you are afraid to take a day off or to leave your job or to take a risk or whatever it is that you know you need to do, then instead of allowing yourself to stay anxious or afraid, push yourself and ask yourself why.
Why is it that I am not taking a day off when I know that I desperately need it? Or, if your issues are with relationships, ask: Why is it that I repeatedly surround myself with people who are not kind or honest and do not align with the type of people I want to be associated with? Be as honest as you can with yourself even if it is not easy. I promise that being honest with yourself and answering these questions will only bring you closer to making yourself a priority.
Step 4: Ask yourself: What is it that will make me happy?
Do you ever ask yourself what makes you happy? Continue by asking yourself, what is it that I need to do to get myself there? Today I was sitting in my office looking at my long to-do list and then I looked at the photos of my three girls and asked myself what will make me happy right this moment? I picked up the phone and called Oren, my 13-year-old, and asked her if she wanted to go spend some special time together and get her nails done with me. I could hear the excitement across the phone and I was filled with happiness and love for my precious child and was looking forward to spending quality time with her.
We all get very busy and there’s always more and more to do as if we all live on autopilot, and before you know it, months go by and years go by and many of us don’t take the time to ask ourselves what makes us happy. I know that life is crazy and many of us have no choice but to work for as many hours as we can and to push hard to get things done, but sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes or an hour for you to invest in yourself, your well-being, your physical and mental health, or anything related to YOU.
Step 5: Write down five things that you want to do more of.
If this is something that you do every year, don’t give up. Do it again this year with a positive attitude and good intentions. What are five things you want to achieve this year? This is not just about what makes you happy, but these are your own personal goals that you want to achieve. Then think about what you need to do to achieve these goals. Let’s just assume that you want to learn how to cook and because you are so busy you never took cooking lessons. How can you plan with small steps to achieve this goal and be realistic about it?
So, what do you think? Is this going to be the year that you make yourself a priority? Often, making yourself a priority isn't easy and maybe it includes talking to a therapist who can help you see what it is that you really want more clearly. I did not get here on my own! If you’re looking for help, it can never hurt to reach out.
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Love and best wishes to all of you and may this be the year that you make yourself a priority!
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