I was recently thinking about this word and how it might apply to my life. Priorities are things that we deem important to us. For each of us that is something different. It could be getting an education, learning a new hobby or skill, a relationship, just to name a few. When I hear about a relationship, I almost immediately think of a relationship with someone else. What if this relationship is with yourself, with a Higher Power, or a combination of the two? I tend to think I forget about my relationship with myself and how much it is a priority. Afterall, I have to live with myself no matter what. Regardless if I am single or in a relationship I am still with me.
What does it mean to make yourself a priority? I don’t think it means to become narcissistic or ego-driven. Rather, I do believe it is to become more attentive and authentic to what you like, dislike, what you believe about yourself, and how you treat yourself. For me, I have had to discover who I am. Not who I was when I was teenager, or a young adult, or a new mom, or who I wish I am, etc. Who am I now? What do I believe about myself? What am I ready to let go of – beliefs, patterns, limited thinking, feeling that the “glory days” are better than current day, or being hard on myself thinking “I should be this or that, or doing this or that”. I am grateful for where I am and what I am doing now. Focus on the present day, practice gratitude for what is in your llfe as well as what isn’t. Sometimes answered prayer looks different than we expected or like. Making myself a priority has meant digging deep, finding my voice, and speaking up when it’s scary or uncomfortable. It has also meant in some cases, making tough decisions, decisions that I dreaded to make and yet knew deep down that they were the right ones for me. Making decisions that are right for me hasn’t always meant they were right for others or decisions that others agreed with or approved. Learning to say “no” or “not now” is not always easy for me. What I have learned to ask myself is “If I say yes to this commitment what am I saying no to?” For example, maybe saying yes means I won’t be able to take a much enjoyed and looked forward to walk or hike with a friend, or time away from quiet time, or an opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. I have learned that by paying more attention to setting priorities that are more in alignment with the person I want to be, I am much happier, feel better about myself, and thus am modeling to others a more balanced, happy, loving person.
I have found that when we are not making decisions based on the priority list we envision for ourselves, we are doing ourselves and others a huge dis-service. For example, if I am resentful or angry it shows. No matter how hard I try, that resentment, bitterness, or anger will surface in some way – most likely in a passive-aggressive manner. By not honoring our priorities we may also unintentionally be contributing to the dysfunction of whatever is going on.
In relationships – whether they are personal or professional, if we feel we are giving too much of ourselves it has the potential to cause resentment and feeling not valued. How can we change our behavior and expectations so we do feel valued, appreciated, and cared about? For each of us that will be a different process. I like to use the 5 Love Languages as a gauge as to how to make sure others in my life are cared for and valued. For example, if I know my partner or friend’s love language is words of affirmation I may text, call, or send a card with a heartfelt and sincere compliment or statement of appreciation. It may be seemingly “out of the blue” or for a specific reason.
I choose to review my priorities from time to time to see if they are still in alignment with my goals and how I choose to show up in the world. I give myself permission to evaluate and re-evaluate my goals, aspirations, and direction in my life journey. When needed I give myself permission to make adjustments as needed. Having and practicing a spiritual practice is one way I am staying authentic to who I am. How about you? What is calling to you right now in the form of priorities?