This is a guest post by Lynne McLean Brown.
Not so long ago, I believed that I didn’t have time for my dreams and goals. I treated myself like the least valuable person in my family. Ironically, I was extremely valuable, as I was focusing solely on what everyone else around me needed.
I became depressed and was hit with the realisation that seeing the people I cared for grow and succeed was awesome, but just wasn’t enough. Making myself a priority was incredibly hard to learn but it has made me happier and more fulfilled.
We tell ourselves lies every day, things that add to the stack of pressure on our shoulders. We sometimes disguise these lies as being motivational or the harsh truths of real life. I put together a list of thoughts, of lies I think we all tell ourselves. Do you recognise any of them in yourself?
I Can’t Do This
When things are incredibly hard we often feel like we cannot go on, life feels too difficult. The chances are you probably are doing the very thing you tell yourself you can’t do, all the while telling yourself you can’t do it. Am I being clear?
Anything is possible, you are a lot stronger than you think you are. I am guessing you have overcome many challenges and do so every day.
Do you recognise these challenges, whether they’re big or small? Imagine how you would feel and act if you were unable to tell yourself “I can’t do this.”
Nice People Put Others First
This was a well-played tune in my mind for a long time and I think becoming a mum really gave it wings. After all, I was in charge of looking after someone who was completely dependent on me.
If you have ever taken a flight then you’ll know the safety announcement tells you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. This is no different outside the plane, you need to make sure your own needs are met before you can begin to help someone else. Supporting others is hard work so if you are looking after someone, you need to be looking after yourself too.
What does looking after yourself look like to you? What replenishes and excites you? How often do you put these activities off to support others?
If Only I Had More Time
If it is important to you then you will make time for it. Nobody died of starvation because they didn’t have the time to feed themselves. It’s our beliefs about what is important that govern whether we have the time for something.
You are important, your dreams, goals, interests and views are all valid. Make these things as important as feeding yourself. You thrive when you are happy and fulfilled, and you deserve that.
Next time you tell yourself there isn’t enough time, can you notice it? Is it true, can you question it in that moment?
I Need To Get It Together
Nobody has everything figured out. We are all feeling our way along and trying to make the best of this life. No-one has the answers and what is good for one person isn’t good for the next. Find out what works for you and live it. When it no longer works for you change it. There is something pretty reassuring about knowing that none of us has a clue what we are doing. You are doing fine, in fact, I’d bet you are doing great.
What are you doing really well? How does it feel when you focus on your successes?
I should be doing something
This one often pops up when we take a break or are doing anything that isn’t considered fun or work. Unless your house is on fire, chances are most things you think you should be doing can wait a little while. A lot of what we tell ourselves is urgent usually isn’t.
Do nothing for a little while, this can take some practice if you’re not used to it. Give doing nothing as much attention as you do to the thought that you should be doing something.
How do you feel when you do nothing? Are you able to sit and simply be in the moment?
I Can’t Do X, People Will Judge Me
A friend once told me a lovely story about her Grandmother and it has always stuck with me. My friend was getting ready to go out and she asked her gran how she looked, she was worried about what judgements people would make of her outfit. Her gran’s reply was “No one is looking at you.”
My friend’s gran wasn’t being unkind she was telling her granddaughter that no one was going to be as critical of her as she was of herself in that moment.
How often do you think about what others will think of what you say and do? Guess what, everyone else thinks about this as often as you do. No one is looking at you, they are all worried about what everyone else thinks of them.
Can you imagine how you would feel and react if you didn’t consider how others would judge you?
I should be satisfied with what I have
You know the thought, the one that tells you so many people have it worse than you. The one that brings back the memory of your parents telling you there are starving children in Africa when you wouldn’t eat your broccoli.
It is true that there are people who have things much worse than you. This doesn’t mean you should stop trying to make life better for yourself or deny yourself what you want or need. If you are not satisfied with how your life is, that is ok. You can do something about it. You don’t have to make the best of it.
Be honest with yourself, are you satisfied? It is ok to say no. What would do you wish was better or different?
Things will never change
The fact is that things change all the time, every second, especially in the modern world. There are very few things you cannot change. It may be difficult or scary but you can change what you do and how you live. You can mess it up today and start again fresh tomorrow. You can change whenever you like, that’s one of the fun things in life.
If you are telling yourself that things will never change, what things are they? Are these things really fixed and unchangeable, or is it that they feel fixed rather than actually being so?
We can create a kinder truth for ourselves. What we believe is subjective and therefore the truth can be whatever we want it to be. It isn’t always easy to change what we believe about ourselves but it is possible and so very worth it.
Lynne is a Scottish-born life coach and writer currently living in Southwest Norway with her husband and two children. She loves baking, travel, yoga, music and hiking in the Norwegian and Scottish countryside.
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Image: Ornella Binni