“Vote for you, so you can stay in peace and not pieces.”

-Unknown

It has taken me a long time to understand what it means to put myself first. It required making my way through the multi-layered beliefs I had surrounding what I thought it said, or didn’t say, about who I was if I put my own needs first.

Intellectually, I knew that it meant I needed to look after myself before I could look after others – you know the old “put your own oxygen mask on first, rule. But the truth was, I didn’t really know how to do that.

How do I vote for me? How do I stand in my own corner without feeling as though I’m standing against or voting against others? Especially when the “others” were often people I deeply loved.

I really didn’t know how to separate those two things apart. If I was acting in my own best interest, then to me, it meant I wasn’t concerned for or acting in the other person’s best interest. This idea of ‘voting for me’ felt like I was betraying another person.

Bit by bit though, I found small ways to put myself first and stand in my own corner. One strategy I really loved and used each time an invite or request came my way that I wasn’t sure how to respond to, was the tried and true practice of saying, “thanks for the invite, but I’ll need to check my calendar and get back to you”.

This gave me the space and time needed to be able to sit and get clear on what I really wanted to do.

So, while I had found little tricks and loopholes-poles for saying ‘no’, and had managed to curb my automatic ‘yes’ button to requests, the truth was I was still white-knuckling it when it came to making decisions that might disappoint anyone or cause any kind of conflict.

Those white-knuckling situations often reared their ugly head when it came to things like having to change or cancel plans, or something simple like saying I preferred a different restaurant than the one someone suggested.

Despite willfully practicing ‘standing in my own corner’ I still felt a lot of discomfort around doing so. I discovered there was a flip side to ‘people pleasing’ that I was completely unaware of and it worked like this:

In the spirit of wanting to be a bigger and better version of myself, I would minimize my own needs and decide that whatever was being asked of me wasn’t a big deal.

I’d justify saying ‘yes’ by telling myself that I was choosing to be kind, caring and loving.

But the truth was I was reluctant to ‘stand in my own corner’ because it required me to feel UNCOMFORTABLE. And saying ‘yes’, under the wonderful guise of being a “take the high road” kinda gal, allowed me to avoid feeling my own discomfort.

But here’s what’s so interesting!

We’re so determined to avoid short-term discomfort (the discomfort experienced from saying ‘no’) that it ultimately keeps us in a state of long-term discomfort (the result of not standing in our own corner).

So, every time you say yes to something that doesn’t light you up, or that you don’t want to do, you end up on the receiving end of feeling resentful, frustrated, agitated, disconnected from yourself and from what matters to you.

You’re rendered powerless to live your life exactly the way you choose as long as you’re unwilling to feel uncomfortable.

This is the thing to know – growth is uncomfortable!!

A remarkable thing happens when you’re willing to feel your own discomfort. When you sit with it, and acknowledge it, you discover this: You can tolerate it. You can manage it. You can survive it.

If you’re willing to feel temporary discomfort you get the benefit of long-term comfort that comes from being in control of your life. You get to take your power back.

You get to own who you are, what you like and dislike, what you want and don’t want. You take your power back, and begin honoring what’s important to you!

So go ahead – stand in your own corner, and embrace discomfort. You can do it. You can tolerate it. It’s worth it, I promise!