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Finding yourself at the bottom of the priority list

As difficult as it can be to really believe it (especially as women), we all know that we need to look after ourselves FIRST so that we can give more to the people and the things that we love. 'You can't pour from an empty cup'... yada yada... we know!!


But even if we logically know that we need to prioritise our own needs, the reality is, it can be far from easy to keep yourself from slowly creeping your way to the bottom of the list. We don't intend to put ourselves at the bottom, but things just keep getting put before 'me' on the list, and then something else gets added to the list that isn't meant to- but still does- get put before 'me', and it happens again... and again, and AGAIN!


Suddenly you realise there's nothing left BELOW you on the list and you might find that all of the feelings that come with having a VERY empty cup come flooding in. I can tell you from recent experience, that this is not a nice place to find yourself... especially as a health and happiness specialist!!


I LOVE teaching my clients exactly how to keep themselves at the top of the list, in a hundred different simple and easy ways, yet in the last couple of years, doing what I love, helping keep my clients healthy and happy, I managed to slip-slide my way down to the bottom of my own list.


Why? Because I'm human.


Even with the best intentions, it happens to the best of us, and if this is sounding a little too familiar, here's three simple things you can do about it.


Number One: Forgive yourself for getting there.


When I realised I was at the bottom of my own priority list, there was a whole lot of horrible phrases going through my head, yelled loudly by personal 'idiot' Stan (If you don't know who my 'idiot' Stan is, you can meet him here). Like a fine wine paired with a delicious meal, these horrible thoughts were expertly paired with a series of perfectly aged emotions. 'I should know better', 'I'm a massive hypocrite for not practicing what I preach', and 'How could I let this happen?' were all being chanted on repeat, paired with a sturdy helping of guilt, shame and frustration.


UNTIL...


Until I remembered that I am human, and it is a perfectly human experience to find yourself in an unwanted place, even when you know better.


Life happens. Sometimes it's easy to get back on track, and other times it's downright hard to even notice you're off track because the day to day is taking up more than you ever thought possible.


The important thing is that when you DO notice, you use it as a cue to make some changes, not as another reason to let your 'idiot' take over and shower you with self-loathing.



Number Two: Ask for help


Getting stuck in a funk is really hard to get out of on your own. Asking for help makes taking the next steps so much easier, even if it's just because you're not doing it alone anymore.


Now, I KNOW that you know that asking for help is both OK and very important. I also know that when it comes down to it, you probably won't ask for help very readily. If you're anything like me, you are probably the person people go to when they need help. You're also acutely aware of how much everyone around you has going on in their lives and you probably don't want to add to their mental load.


That's because you are an incredible, kind and loving person and is also a perfect example of what putting yourself at the bottom of your list looks like. You are allowed to ask for help. You are important enough to receive help. It is not your job to decide if people have capacity to help or not (I had a very good friend remind me of this once I did ask for help). You are allowed to ask. If they can't help, they'll let you know.


But, if you're still not comfortable asking friends or family, there are plenty of people who love to help- so much so, they made it their job! Whether that's booking in with your GP, a counselor or psychologist, a coach or mentor, or take advantage of free phone and internet counseling services like lifeline (13 11 14 or https://www.lifeline.org.au/), beyond blue (1300 22 4636 or https://www.beyondblue.org.au/), or better help (https://www.betterhelp.com/)



Number Three: Pick ONE THING and MAKE time


"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Lao Tzu


It's a big task to fill an empty cup, especially when you know all the things you need to do to fill it. As I mentioned before, I teach my clients hundreds of different ways to prioritise themselves and create their own version of health and happiness. So imagine what my 'empty cup' brain did when I set out to start filling it again... it tried to work out how I could do ALL the things in one go! This does not help fill an empty cup!!


We need to begin our journey with a single step. Pick ONE THING that you can do to start, and MAKE TIME for it. For me it was spending time on my new hobby- sewing. I made time for it, even at times that I normally would never have done a hobby- after work, at lunch time, in between tasks etc. I made time and prioritised it. It wasn't just the sewing itself that was beneficial- it was also a great form of mindfulness, and reminded me that time isn't set in stone, I get to choose what I do with it... there aren't actually any rules!


Once you get the hang of that one thing, you can pick another one thing and make time for that, and keep building on as you go. Eventually you'll have the space and capacity again to look at the bigger picture and plan ahead.


(If you need help starting with your ONE THING, I created a free online challenge to do just that. You can find it HERE (You just need to become a site member -also free- to access it).)


Its never fun finding yourself in a place you know you 'shouldn't' be, but remember it's all part of life. You'll likely be here (or something like it) again, and you'll still be human and still be capable of overcoming bottom-of-the-priority-list-itis, because you've done it all before. Hopefully next time it'll be easier to get past it without all the negative self-talk.


You are worthy of being at the top of your own priority list... just remember to check your list once in a while, and make sure you keep RE-prioritising yourself!





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