I had a conversation with a colleague of mine on how I was tired of accepting and agreeing to what everyone thought or said to or about me. ‘I need to treat myself better and I am tired of standing up for everyone except myself’, I said to her with all the vigour I could muster.
The backstory is simple: I am the first of four and like any typical African firstborn female, I learnt to look out for everyone else- except me of course. I would ask for things that my siblings wanted even though I did not want it. I would manage so that they would have what they wanted and to a large extent, their happiness meant I was happy too. Although I adored the childish smirks on their faces anytime they got positive responses to their requests, I couldn’t shake off the fact that I had needs and wants as well.
A few years ago I began to notice that I could not answer simple questions about the things I liked or wanted. I could not place a demand on my friends and their responses to me. Even if I was hurting, I would find a ridiculously sensible way of taking on the blame.
Let me paint the picture- I’d feel ignored by a friend, but instead of letting him/her know how I felt and how to help them relate with me better, I would say to myself , ‘Maybe you’re expecting too much’ and maybe I was truly- but there is nothing wrong with letting people know how to treat me.
Obviously I am not relating with shrinks who can read my mind every time- so I need to talk. If not, people will take my silence as acceptance of their behaviour or speech- even when it is not. Regardless, when I got hurt or upset by anyone, my response would be to ignore it and move on. Soon enough, I became a pro at suppressing my emotions or not feeling them at all. The more emotionless I became the more frustrated I became, and it became an endless cycle of internal frustration. Alas! Soon I could not even experience positive emotions too.
My Dad once said to me- ‘You know nothing gets you excited’… I couldn’t blame him. He had almost forgotten what it felt like for me to giggle, blush or scream for joy at anything.
Standing up for others is easy, forgiving others was easy too but I realized that I didn’t extend such grace to myself. So, right now, I have decided to do a few things that I know will be helpful in learning to treat myself better:
Ways I’m Learning to Treat Myself Better;
1. Disagree when I don’t Agree.
When next someone says something about me that I do not think is true or something that I do not agree with, I can politely disagree. I do not need to agree with everything for peace sake. Agreeability is not a virtue.I do not need to agree with everything for peace sake. Agreeability is not a virtue. Click To Tweet
2. Teach people to treat me right.
Yes! If I want something I will ask for it. The worst response is a NO! When I am upset, I will point out my hurt or anger. I am entitled to feel my feelings and I will not be afraid to let the people in my life be aware of how I feel.You're entitled to feel your feelings and you should not be afraid to let the people in your life be aware of how you feel. Click To Tweet
3. Dream and Reach for the things I want.
On Pinterest, I save Images of clothes, jewelry, hair, shoes just about anything or anywhere that I’d love to own, go or do regardless of how vain it may seem and when I get the opportunity to buy or do those things, I will. I will make no apologies for the things I want. God is more than able to provide them so why choose to ‘manage’? I choose to see that my dreams are valid and I will reach out for it unapologetically.Choose to see that your dreams are valid and you should reach out for them unapologetically. Click To Tweet
4. Self-love Is Mandatory.
I will see to it that I take myself more seriously and love me here and now. I will think about myself when I need to make decisions and I will not settle because anyone thinks I should or let fear be the eyes through which I see myself. I will bless myself with my words regardless of where and how.I will see to it that I take myself more seriously and love me here and now. I will bless myself with my words regardless of where and how. Click To Tweet
5. I Forgive Myself
I am not always going to get it right. I may choose wrong but I choose to be graceful to myself. Regardless of how much I don’t get it, I can trust God to pull me through. I will not let pride rob me of God’s grace. I will forgive myself; I will ask for help and receive it whenever I need to.I am not always going to get it right. I may choose wrong but I choose to be graceful to myself. I will forgive myself. Click To Tweet
You truly only live once. This is no excuse to be callous because if you love something, you’d take good care of it. I am choosing to learn and trust God to help me on this journey of treating myself better. I hope you will too.You truly only live once. Love and treat yourself better, You deserve it. Click To Tweet
How are you learning and working at treating yourself better? Please share as a comment.
This is such an amazing write up, one I can totally relate to.
One can care so much for others and forget our feelings matter as well.
i’m definitely learning to treat myself better.
I am comfortably seated on this table. Being the first of four children I learnt early in life to neglect my needs and feelings to please others. But I am very grateful for the tips you shared.