One of my biggest strengths but also my greatest weaknesses is that I care about people. I am a warm and nurturing person by nature and I want everyone to feel like they belong.
Because of this, I seek ways to ensure people feel included, welcome and that they matter. Where it sees me come unstuck, is that it also means that I worry how my actions will affect others, I ponder what others will think and I can be persuaded to take action based on whether I think others will approve or not.
This process of decision-making does not always work in my best interests. Because I am concerned with what others think, I sometimes hold back, I refrain from speaking my true opinion and in worrying about what others think, sometimes I fail to take any action at all.
In recent times, I have started to live for myself rather than living for others. Upon first glance, this might seem like a selfish notion. Living for myself with no regard for others? But this is not the intention at all.
In choosing to live for me, I like to explain it more as living ‘with’ myself. Instead of worrying about how others are going to live with my actions, and choices, how am I going to live with them? If I am constantly choosing to do things based on what will make others happy, but sacrifice my own sense of self, how do I feel about that?
So, my pledge now, no matter how uncomfortable at times, is to live for myself first. Because at the end of the day, I am the only person that matters (I’m also the only person I can’t escape!). I also know that when I act in my own highest good, it is actually in the highest good of others around me. It is not up to me to make everyone else feel good about themselves or comfortable with my life, that is their journey.
I thought it would be useful to share some insights into how you might know you’re living for yourself. I’ve listed these 5 below:
1. I know what I love and what makes me happy
Most people say they know what they love and what makes them happy, but other than at a surface level – do you really? This goes deeper than loving your family, your children or a general response that you’re happy. Do you feel like you are clear on your purpose, what lights you up, what you are here on this earth to do? When you know this, and you are actively living it, then you are living for yourself.
2. I am not living with the regret of what could have been
No regrets! Imagine putting all your dreams on hold til you’re 65 and retired. Then what? Why wait til later to live the life of your dreams? If you are constantly feeling regret for what is playing out in your life, then it’s a pretty good indication that you’re not living for yourself. Hone in on where you have regret and use this is an opportunity to make some changes. Is it your career, relationship status, or travel? Whatever is causing regret is sure to be an area to choose to live more for you.
3. I am making decisions based on what will serve myself and my family first
This is a huge one for me and helps me to stay on course to my true north. When I start to get caught up in taking actions that will help others or on a seemingly ‘good cause’, I question myself – how is this serving myself and my family. If it’s not, then there’s a fair chance that I’ve slipped back into my old pattern of helping and seeking approval from others. This is not suggesting that you don’t help people or care for others, it is merely that you are clear on ensuring you are not doing this to the detriment of your own journey. It is really easy to get carried away with noble intentions too, so a great way of recentering is to ask ‘how does this serve me and/or my family?’
4. I am aligned with myself
If you haven’t read the Martha Beck (aka Oprah’s life coach) novel ‘The Way of Integrity’, I highly recommend you do. It gives some great insight into ways you know you’re not in integrity. These include addiction, relationship failure, illness, and repeating patterns of ‘bad luck, relationship breakdowns and a few more indicators. Being out of alignment will show up physically in your life.
In addition to that. You will just know when you are out of integrity. As adult humans, we are really good at lying to ourselves, but if we are prepared to really listen to what’s going on, we will know!
It took me falling incredibly sick with my immune system out of control for me to realise. But eventually, I did! The universe is always looking for ways to support you back to your true path.
Alignment is essentially when you’re in integrity with your truth. Any time you are living outside of that, you will experience discomfort, pain or other clues that this is the case.
5. I choose growth
Another word for growth can be pain! Not always, but often. Growth usually involves some level of shedding, which can create pain.
Growth can take shape in many forms. It can be in moving on from physical things like relationships, jobs, physical circumstances. It can also be more of a philosophical change – behaviour, patterns, focus.
When you are open to growth, you are open to learning new things, challenging what you know, taking on new opportunities. When you feel like you are still growing, you are usually living for yourself. If you feel as though you have stopped growing, this is a good sign that you may be living for others.
Here’s a bonus tip:
6. Demand wild acceptance and nothing less
Another great book in terms of living for yourself is ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle. In this book, she refers to her immediate family as an island. She uses this to describe the analogy of living for yourself (and family), as an island with a drawbridge. The drawbridge is up, and you choose who you allow onto your island based on their acceptance of you living your life on your terms. Anything less than wild acceptance, you do not lower the drawbridge. Instead of allowing people onto your island (e.g. you and your family), then trying to convince them to accept you, you simply don’t allow it until they do.
This is a work in progress for me, and something I am very focused on. For most of my life, I have tried welcoming everyone to my ‘island’, then battling my way to convince people to accept me and my way of being. I am currently moving towards a drawbridge approach, I see this as a far more emotionally and mentally effective way of staying in my truth and living for myself first.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece. Are you challenged by my tips or do you feel as though you’re already there?
Are there other ways you are living for yourself that you can share? Please share your wisdom below.
Live, Love and Laugh,