What is it going to take to make yourself a priority?

This is the questions that I pinned down during a week stay in the hospital managing the consequences of a chronic issue. I decided that I would make it my focus for the next year as a charge or mantra of committing to taking better care of myself.

The irony is I am filled with knowledge and awareness of a whole litany of tools, tips and practices that I can employ to address the issues I struggle with. Tension, that leads to stress, that triggers chronic pain and then ensuing medication that over time causes a health problem. That is the issue in a nut shell. But if you would have asked me in the past years if I was stressed the answer would be, ‘no, I am fine, I can handle it etc….’ And that is true, I feel that I am incredibly resilient with very strong internal coping skills. And again, I know better! In fact, I resource and have served others with my knowledge and have an incredible awareness of what could benefit others yet…….I do not do that which I know I should do.

Which landed me in an internal dialogue which went something like…..

“Sarah, you got yourself in this situation……
“I know, but I can handle it, I don’t see what the problem is. This should not be an issue”
“You are in the freaking hospital! Clearly your ‘management’ is not working well!”
“I know, I need to eat better, exercise, do yoga, try meditation, journal, get massage, talk to my coach, (and on and on and on)”
“yep, there is a lot you could do and you know what you could be doing but for years that does not seem to happen……just saying…..”
“I know, I will make some new goals”
“That is good and all but…..I am curious, what is going to motivate you to keep these goals….?”
“I have to make them a priority (insert epiphany with shining lights and music of the angels) maybe what I really have to do is make myself a priority.”
“hmmmm, that is an interesting question, what is it going to take to make yourself a priority?”

After this heart to heart with myself (it pays to be able to coach yourself a bit) I decided that this was going to be my charge. Almost a guiding principle, at least for the next year.

We talk about self-care like it is a passing thing that anyone can just start to do.

Like of course we should all be doing self-care we just have to start why haven’t you? We applaud or judge or are jealous of or wonder what it would be like to that take a weekend away, enjoy a restful moment with tea and a book, engage in an activity that would bring balance in mind body and spirit. We have this weird paradox where we celebrate self-care and yet we celebrate ‘go’, the drive, schedule and achievement.

How can we celebrate both so that there is such value in each that there is no question that we will rest and go, that we will pause and drive, that we will become loose and scheduled at the same time and achievement will be measured on balance and flow of it all?

This is a conversation for another time….back to my ‘priority’ question.

I realized that I had to change my mindset first and make myself a priority in my thoughts, my beliefs, my actions. It was also important to have some accountability. So, I reluctantly told some friends that this was the new plan and focus and to expect regular updates and insights.

I began my plan by bringing more ‘creativity’ into my day. Ugg. Just repeating it has me feeling a little squishy inside because this just does not feel like a useful productive way to spend my time.

Things I tried:

  1. Sticker puzzles – I am not sure that an activity where the instructions encourage using a toothpick or tweezers screams relaxing. This became a lesson in letting go of perfection, which could be its own blog post.
  2. Water color painting – in typical fashion I proceeded to go out and research and purchase an extensive supply collection. Signed up for a class and during the first session kept thinking…..’this is dumb’. It ended up being an okay attempt at creativity for me but without class I did not continue. I might have to try this one again.
  3. Jigsaw puzzles – I really enjoy jigsaw puzzles, there is family nostalgia around them and a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention the perfect activity for winter. But my obsessive spirit kicked in and I managed to complete a 1000 piece puzzle in two-days. I kept on saying ‘after this next section…….” THERE IS ALWAYS A NEXT SECTION! Again, not sure this was the intent.
  4. Adult coloring books – the good news, some of the water color supplies can be used in these too. Excellent practicality. This is doable but a little too slow for me. But this is something I can continue to do. Easy to pull out and put away and I am good at coloring inside the lines.

Lessons learned:

  • Life is easier and more fun with a friend or two – my accountability group laughed repeatedly with me at my attempts and I had one friend join me in the water color class.
  • Know your pitfalls – for me perfection and obsessiveness are definitely areas to work on.
  • Get some perspective – my water color and sticker puzzles always looked ‘better’ after I had stepped away and then come back and looked at them. Not to mention, they looked better when I backed up and took in the whole effect.

Overall, I would qualify my initial application of prioritizing me a reasonable success.

I wonder what I wall try next?……

Written by guest blogger Sarah Weisbarth.

As a life coach with Self Love Beauty helping others grow in themselves and connect with others on a deeper level is a natural niche for Sarah. A commitment to providing others with the internal resources they need to be successful in life has Sarah working and serving in programs related to youth and those that promote self-worth and personal value.