Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by Tiana Parker
I’d like to start by saying this:
Protecting your peace, should be one of the biggest, if not the biggest priority in your life.
I’m not sure where you are at this point in your life reading this. Not sure if this is something you struggle with in your relationship with yourself and others, or if you’re really good at keeping this motto and this mantra top of mind. Either way, this needs to fit somewhere in your life and in the practise of loving and taking care of yourself.
The many reasons why we give so much of ourselves to others are different for us all. Maybe you’ve always considered yourself a giver, maybe you gotten so used to putting other people’s needs first that you do so without thinking too much about it, kind of like a reflex. Or maybe you feel pressured to do so, or, a million other possibilities that are too vast and too personal to you and your experience to write on here.
Whatever the case may be, the why should be clear. If at any point, or in any (or many) situations, you feel like you’re there for someone at the expensive of your own peace and wellbeing, question yourself.
– Why do I put x first?
– Why didn’t I honour what I needed?
– Why do I feel like I have to put x before myself and my needs?
Clarity is key to most things regarding your self-care, self-love and self-worth journey. You have to know why you act or enable certain things to be able to change them. And that process, like most in the journey of creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself, is sometimes (actually, most times) not very comfortable, deeply vulnerable but in the end so, so worth it. In the process of doing so, I would try these approaches:
LEARN TO SAY NO, AND KEEP SAYING IT
I would say, learn to say no. But honestly, that alone is not enough, the real challenge is to keep saying it. And the thing with saying no, is this. There’s no big or small situation, less or more important person, worth it or not scenario that should prevent you from saying it. If it doesn’t add to your life or makes you feel good, that’s enough for you to be sure you should say no, no matter what it is.
HONOUR YOUR NEEDS
This is the part where you honour yourself! Not what your friend needs, your mum wants, your partner prefers or what your family wished for, but what you need. Yes, it takes courage, because even though it’s the simplest concept, the truth is, we’re not used to honouring ourselves no matter what. There’s always someone, some situation, relationship or potential opportunity that may condition us to do it anyway, even when we know it’s not what we necessarily wanted or needed.
A note here is this, honouring your needs does not mean you completely neglect and ignore someone else’s needs. It just means that your main priority and what should come first are your needs.
SET SOME BOUNDARIES
It all culminates on this, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Whether it’s a new relationship or a dynamic that you’ve had since you remember being a person, accessing where your boundaries lie and whether or not they are clear not just to you, but to the person on the other side is key, absolutely key for you to protect your peace and your wellbeing. Most importantly, don’t forget this, protecting your peace by stating your needs, saying no, and honouring yourself by putting some clear boundaries in place, does not make you selfish. It also doesn’t make you a bad friend, partner, employee, team player or any of the many hats you wear.
Try not to feel guilty as you create the dynamics that enhance your happiness and wellbeing. Yes, some people might be disappointed, some might even say some things that will make you feel all of the things above, but that’s only because you’re taking a position and most likely changing the way in which you relate to one another. So, try not to engage, try not to believe it and try not to feel guilty in the process. For the people who truly love you and want the best for you, will not have a problem with you taking the steps to doing exactly that. Be clear, feel empowered and communicate what it is that you need effectively so that the ones around you can honour you too.