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Permission to Make Yourself the Priority: Granted

The surprising reasons why being ‘selfish’ benefits everyone

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Ladies, say it with me: I am the most important thing in my life. No one and no thing is more important than me. Not my children, my spouse or partner, my religion or my mission in life.

What? That feels weird? Arrogant? Selfish? It’s not, and I’m going to tell you why. Then, by the end of this blog, we’re going to shout it from the rooftops together.

If you’re like most women, you’ve probably spent the last few decades trying to be all things to all people: the best daughter, the best mother, the best wife or girlfriend, the best businesswoman, the best neighbor, the best congregant or parishioner. What an exhausting list of hats to wear on a daily or weekly basis!

But nowhere in there was “the best me” — where does that fall? Where do you fit in?

It’s impossible to play all of those roles successfully if you aren’t the best you. And the best you requires you to put yourself first, above all else, so that you have more of you to give.

When you make someone or something more important than you — your religion, your children, your spouse, or even your life’s purpose — you allow that person or that thing to have control over “you.” You give that person or thing power over you. You lose a piece of you to whatever or whomever you concede the power to. Granted, all these things may be extremely important to you, but they are not more important than you.

When I made this declaration to a group of women, one woman remarked, “I would sacrifice my own life for my children’s!” I am sure she would, as I bet most mothers would. However, that does not mean that you — your spiritual self — are less important than your children. I used to say, “My mission of financial education is first and foremost!” Yes, the mission is tremendously important to me, but it is not more important than me.

Interestingly, men don’t seem to struggle with this concept as much as women do. The word I hear used most often by women regarding this statement is “selfish.” Why the disparity?

According to an article in Psychology Today,

“A man will more easily shrug off an accusation of selfishness because society's definition of manliness involves a striving toward self-enhancement, ambition, competition, and aggression. For women, an accusation of selfishness hits harder, since an ethos of caring is seen as a bedrock of the concept of femininity. The desire not to be seen as — and not to feel — selfish seems to motivate and shape the lives of women more than the lives of men.”


Why is this an issue for so many women?

In my opinion, we are so used to putting everyone first — our children, our husbands or partners, our parents, our job or business — that many of us have become accustomed to taking a back seat. All too often on social media, I see some women actually bragging about how exhausted they are, like it’s a badge of honor. They’re exhausted because catering to those you love, without catering to yourself, drains you of energy instead of giving you energy. And that is not empowering, inspiring or healthy.

It’s easy to lose track of who you really are when day in and day out you’re living your life according to everyone’s else’s dreams, visions, wants and needs. That’s because in order to best serve others, you have to first serve yourself.

Think of a time when you were really joyful — a time when you felt free and full of life:

  • What were you doing?

  • How were you feeling?

  • Were you more productive?

  • Were you more fun to be around?

  • Willing to help others?

  • Did things seem to happen effortlessly?

This is you being all of you and making you most important.

And women are successful at making themselves a priority. Check out these 10 women, who prove why putting yourself first is good for business.

So what does all this mean to you?

Of course I’m going to link this to your own financial education and, more importantly, your financial transformation. Are you taking the time you need every day — for you, the most important person — to move toward your financial freedom? Are you putting yourself first (at least some of the time)?

It’s common knowledge that the healthier you are in mind, body and spirit, the more effective and productive you are in all the roles that you choose to play. I’m sure you’ve heard the announcement on board an airplane, “Please be sure to put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Those are words to live by: You take care of you, so that you can better take care of others.

In my book It’s Rising Time!, I encourage women to raise the bar on ourselves. It’s time we become the role models who will inspire other women. It’s time to embrace the fact that there is no one or no thing more important than you. It’s time to put yourself first and make it a better world.

How to start making yourself a priority

For many women, it will take a concerted effort to shift into a “me-focused” mentality. When the self-doubt and guilt starts to creep in, here are a few things that might help cement your new philosophy:

  1. Adopt a mantra. I loved watching Laurie Hernandez compete for the U.S. in gymnastics at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Before she began a particularly tricky routine, Laurie was filmed mouthing the words, "I got this." That simple phrase gave her an extra boost of confidence to get her through the event. A mantra is a self-affirming, positive phrase that can help you combat your self-doubt. Spend some time choosing a mantra that works for you, and use it in moments when your self-doubt tries to hold you back or you’re feeling uncomfortable about stepping outside your comfort zone.

  2. Spend time with the right people. When something feels uncomfortable or foreign, it’s easy to throw in the towel. That’s why it’s crucial to not only have a loving support system in place, but also a network of people who are succeeding in the areas of life you’re striving to succeed in. If you have other women who aren’t afraid to prioritize themselves in your circle, then you’re more likely to follow suit. These role models also a great resource when you need advice or start questioning your path. Similarly, pruning negative influences from your life is a difficult process, but it's worth it in the end. Your chances of sticking to your new philosophy are higher when you have the right support system around you.

  3. Start small. It may not be realistic to completely change the way you’ve always done things, so it’s OK to begin with baby steps. Perhaps start with an hour or two each day of “me” time where you put yourself first — maybe you take a bubble bath while listening to a guided meditation or you go for a walk while listening to a self-help book. Once these activities become a regular part of your routine, expand on them. Take half days, and whole days to yourself every once in a while. Look for ways to incorporate more and more things that feed your mind, body and soul. People who depend on you may complain at first, but soon they will see the positive changes it brings to your life and how it positively impacts your relationship with them — and it’ll all be worth it. Plus, teaching others to be a bit more self-sufficient never hurts!

So now, let’s say it again, proudly, with our heads held high: I am the most important thing in my life. No one and no thing is more important than me. Not my children, my spouse or partner, my religion or my mission in life.

Original publish date: June 28, 2017

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