Putting Ourselves First…Finally

What Does It Really Mean To Be An “Independent Woman?”

As women, we’re taught to put our needs last. Many of us grew up within families where our mother’s or grandmother’s needs weren’t asked after or honored.

The language for speaking about women’s needs has not been modeled to us or even developed, in some cases. We have been taught that being a good mother, daughter, friend, or partner means sacrificing self.

The tendency to put ourselves last doesn’t just go away when we’re at work, either. We find ourselves volunteering to stay late to clean up the office, review other’s work, or engage in other “non-promotable” tasks. This doesn’t serve us in our career goals and often only leads to work/life imbalances, and burnout.

putting yourself first

Are you feeling…

  • Burnt out?
  • Stretched too thin?
  • Anxious?
  • Unmotivated?
  • Out of touch with yourself?

These are just some of the signs that you may not be honoring yourself within the context of your relationships. Let’s unpack that.

The reality is that some level of self-sacrifice is necessary when others are relying on us.

The question is: what happens when we’ve spent so long giving ourselves to others that we no longer know how to give to ourselves? We may even have lost touch with the ability to internally recognize our own needs, wants, and desires. We lose ourselves in our “roles,” and we train those around us to also ignore our needs.

Logically, we know that pouring from an empty cup isn’t good for anyone involved. But that knowledge doesn’t seem to be enough to disrupt this pattern of self-neglect.

Let’s acknowledge that we’re dealing with some pretty powerful social, cultural, and historical conditioning, here.

Over the course of history, women’s needs have been deliberately denied or silenced by patriarchal and sexist institutions. Pervasive cultural beliefs about women being the “nurturing gender,” intertwined with religious, social, and political doctrines, define how society views a woman’s role as the caretaker of the family.

Breaking this cycle takes intention, self-awareness, and the desire for something better.

So what does it actually look like to stop putting ourselves last?

  • Learn to say no
  • Work on establishing boundaries
  • Slow down and assess how you’re feeling
  • Self-reflect, journal, share your thoughts with trusted community
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Take responsibility for your own well-being
  • Schedule self-care

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