“Our self-respect tracks our choices. Every time we act in harmony with our authentic self and our heart, we earn our respect. It is that simple. Every choice matters.” ~Dan Coppersmith
In theory, putting yourself first sounds like a simple thing. Just do it, right? But it’s not always so easy, is it?
If you’re like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, chances are you think that putting yourself first is a little selfish. After having dealt with a toxic narcissist who could blame you? Narcissists are notorious for tearing us down and making us think we don’t matter – and that THEY do. Not to mention the society that teaches us that we’re supposed to be selfless – all the time. People are often praised for being unselfish, right? It’s not easy to shake off that conditioning. But it’s important for your health and wellbeing that you learn to put those fears aside and start putting yourself first.
Are you ready to give putting yourself first a try? You can start by checking out my brand-new FREE course, Choosing YOU, over at Life Makeover Academy.
But for now, let’s start here.
Living a balanced and fulfilling life requires a balance between your needs and desires, and those of others. You’ll be in better shape to support other people if you fill your cup first. You will exhaust yourself if you run around everywhere helping everyone. It’s likely to make you feel overwhelmed, even angry and resentful. And that’s no help to anyone!
Did you know? Putting yourself first is good for you! It’s true. Studies have shown that putting yourself first has a range of benefits including
- Being taken more seriously and respected by others
- Your resilience in dealing with stress is enhanced
- You have more control over your life
- Your self-esteem will improve
- Better physical and mental health
Putting yourself first can be as easy as learning to take responsibility for your own choices by being assertive about your needs. One of the most powerful ways of being assertive is learning to say no calmly and straightforwardly. Are you able to say no when you need to?
Journaling Exercise: Take a few minutes to answer the following questions in your journal.
- Does saying no make you feel uncomfortable? Why or why not?
- Do you feel like you have the right to say no when you need to? If you said no, are you willing to change that perception?
- Can you think of a time that you wanted to say no but couldn’t? In hindsight, what could you have done differently?
- What are some phrases you can use to say no when you need to? Write them down and commit them to memory for future reference.
Filling your cup
I don’t know about you, but when I’m not taking care of myself, I find myself feeling DRAINED and EXHAUSTED. The fact is that taking care of yourself is essential as no one can do their best if they’re exhausted. Pushing yourself past your limits will make you sick. In these times of 24/7 availability and communication, it is more necessary than ever to make sure you get the rest and downtime you need.
Filling your cup means taking time out for you, whether that’s spending a quiet evening watching TV, or a weekend hiking in the mountains. It means getting enough sleep; it means setting some boundaries and doing what’s right for you.
Setting a good example
If this still isn’t sitting right with you, consider this. Would you want your friends and loved ones running themselves ragged after you? What do you say when you see your friend or family member is stressed out or overwhelmed? Chances are you’d tell them to relax, right?
The people in your life who have been toxic aren’t really relevant here. But YOU are, and YOU matter, my friend. If it helps, think about what kind of role model you are to your kids if you have any. Not only will they follow your example they’ll pick up on your mood. If you’re stressed out and overworked, your kids will think that’s normal.
Despite what the narcissist(s) in your life would have you believe, it’s not selfish to be the healthiest, happiest possible you. It is NECESSARY if you’re ever going to become the best possible version of yourself – and if you are going to live a life that sees you THRIVING in the way that you deserve to be. And that means setting boundaries, saying no and taking time for yourself. Get some help with CHOOSING YOURSELF for once by taking my free online course, right here.
This video playlist may also help you learn to set your boundaries firmly in place.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.