By Kristen Clark
Do you find yourself waiting for the ideal moment, the perfect outcome, or some sign from above that says “go for it”? Do you worry that it’s not okay to want something, or feel you don’t deserve it? Are you afraid of asking for anything for yourself before everyone else’s needs are met?
Many of us are taught at an early age that it’s not okay to serve ourselves first at the dinner table, take the cake slice with the most icing, or get in line ahead of our invited guest. We were taught to let others go first, and some of us were punished if we didn’t. After all, selfishness is rude and unattractive.
Unfortunately, our concept of selfishness can become distorted over time and result in the habit of perpetually accommodating the needs of others first, regardless of whether or not the situation warrants such generosity. Always striving to be the epitome of politeness and consideration, we may err on the side of never indulging in or nurturing ourselves.
As long as our needs and wants go unresolved, our self-image suffers. When we continuously put ourselves last on the list of priorities, we unconsciously tell ourselves (and others) that we are less important and less deserving. As a coping mechanism, we may reconcile our unmet wants and needs with unhealthy justification and rationalization, and continue the spiral to lower levels of confidence.
One way to correct this thinking is to give ourselves permission. In other words, we can intentionally consent to putting ourselves first when it’s appropriate. We can:
- Purchase that designer necklace we’ve been eyeing for some time and can easily afford.
- Take an art class on Saturday mornings and improve our watercolor technique.
- Learn to crochet because it’s fun, even if we’re not very good at it.
- Take a trip to the Bahamas to celebrate our recent promotion.
- Repair exterior cracks in our home because it makes us feel better even if no one else cares.
- Forgive our shortcomings and accept our failures as true lessons.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for everything – planting, healing, building, laughing, dancing, gathering stones, embracing, mending, and loving – which means there is also time for satisfying and nurturing our own needs and wants. We just have to find the right balance. For example, putting our oxygen mask on first when the plane loses cabin pressure is appropriate; it is not rude, unattractive, or selfish. Why do we need to be given this permission by the attendants before each flight? I think they have some clear insight here.
While it’s important to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, there is also a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. The next time you discover that your needs and wants have gone continuously unsatisfied, ask yourself why. The answer could be that you just need to give yourself permission. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel about yourself when you do.
“I wish I could find someone who could fix this nose of mine.”
Are you afraid people won’t like your imperfections ? I can help you with that!