Weekly Challenge: Let’s Talk About Priorities

21 Jan

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It was a summer afternoon sometime in July. I’d been fruitlessly trying to clean my house all day. The dishes, laundry, floors, counters . . . everything needed cleaning. But the kids wanted to go to the pool and were beginning to fight with each other. Their fighting was grating on my nerves and I, in turn, raised my voice at them. We had guests coming for dinner that night, I hadn’t exercised or showered, and now I felt guilty for yelling at my kids. I was frustrated. I’d hit my limit.

I reached for a cookie.

I wasn’t hungry; I’d just served lunch. So why was I lifting that cookie to my lips? That’s exactly what I asked myself and had a kind of epiphany. What did I really need in that moment? Well, it wasn’t sugar. What I needed was a timeout. And not just a moment of pause up in my bedroom with the door locked. No, I needed a break. A real one. Time away from worrying about the house, the cleaning, the kids . . . Yes, the kids. I know, just writing those words fills me with guilt. But what is wrong with admitting that we need a break from time to time? Why do we feel so guilty about admitting that we need ME time? And what is so wrong with having ME time set as a priority? NOTHING!

I am

For some reason we women, especially mothers, don’t allow ourselves to be human, to be a priority in our own lives. Every other thing must come first–at least that’s what we tell ourselves. But our needs are a priority in our own lives as a matter of survival. When we try to deny our own needs they manifest themselves in other ways, sometimes chronic illness, sometimes cravings, and depression. So we reach for food. It’s quick. It’s easy. It calms us, at least temporarily. And our husbands and children aren’t going to begrudge us a cookie (especially when eaten on the sly) like they might if they knew what we really needed or wanted: some time to work on ourselves, to cultivate our mind and body, some time to feed our souls. After all, health and personal development should be one of our core values. And what we really need is to bring our lives in line with our personal values and priorities.

This week, make a list of your 6 most important values and rate them on a scale of 1 to 6. Example:

     Value                                                         Priority

Time with family                                          1

Education                                                        4

Spirituality                                                      2

Healthy lifestyle                                            3

Giving back to the community                   6

Personal development                                  5

That’s an example of what my priority and value list might look like. Do you see clean house anywhere on that list? Neither do I. So why was I placing the frustration over cleaning my house for guests to come over some many other higher priority things? I wasn’t listening to myself. I’d gotten things out of order. Simply rearranging my day would have helped me stave off the urge to reach for a cookie in a moment of frustration. Take the kids to the pool, exercise and shower, then clean the house for the guests we were entertaining that night. Family, self, then everything else.

As this week’s challenge, I am urging you to examine your priorities and make sure you are on your own list of to-do’s. Try to schedule your day so that is in line with your priorities. And when that stressful moment comes around and you find yourself scavenging the cupboards for the last of the chocolate, I want you to pause for a moment, acknowledge the feeling you are trying to numb with food, and instead tell yourself, “I am enough.”

And stop qualifying, justifying, and rationalizing your own values. They are yours; they are a part of who you are. The only time you should compare your values and priorities to those of anyone else is when you think you need to make a change.

Remember: You are enough!


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