My clients are natural givers - those who give to the point where they lose a sense of themselves. They often began our work together unconscious about their own feelings and needs. They gave to to others at the expense of their own life and, as a result, their vitality was low. It was natural that they felt undervalued because they set it up that way. Their own self-worth - that natural inner confidence - was not at the forefront.
Giving in order to get - whether it be recognition, appreciation, love, connection, a sense of being useful and purposeful, or a distraction from experiencing a painful feeling - is not true, unconditional giving. This kind of giving leads to unclear boundaries. Energy is focussed 'out there' instead of resting in your body, your heart, your true nature that arises beyond the conditioned mind.
It begins with a commitment to yourself. Setting the intention to make yourself the top priority and surrender the victim within is key.
The next step is to explore how that habit shows up uniquely in you. For example, it may be keeping yourself overwhelmingly busy so there is little time to do what truly nourishes you. It may be doing what you really don't want to do because you're afraid to displease those around you. It may be that you spend a lot of your time being there for friends rather than simply having fun together. It may be that how you spend your time is based on "I should" rather than "I want". There are a myriad of ways that putting yourself at the bottom of the list can show up - some subtle and some not so subtle.
When you are aware of your own patterns, the points of view that take you away from being connected to yourself, the inner confidence that includes deep self-care, can be identified and released. From the place of clear seeing, you naturally move toward what nourishes you without having to will yourself to behave differently.
You listen deep inside. You effortlessly make new choices. You discover practices that deeply nourish and support you. It might mean that you are drawn to new people who you address their own needs, too, so are able to meet you in mutual ways. You might just say no - a lot. You might spend lots of time in nature or do work that you love. This is the stage where support from a coach can be particularly helpful - the gradual integration of a life style that sustains you as the top priority in your life.
Instead of rearranging the furniture in a prison, you are outside of the prison itself. Making yourself the top priority is the new foundation for your life because you are connected to yourself. Your true gifts pour forth freely in a natural, confident way that has you be the director of your own energy.
Pay attention to the cues that are calling you to make yourself a priority. Explore your pattern of putting yourself last.
(Photo taken by Monica Saaty)
© 2009 Jeannie Campanelli, Inner Confidence Coaching. All Rights Reserved.
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Jeannie Campanelli, Ed.D, CPCC, is a coach and author who partners with naturally-giving men and women who place other people’s needs in front of their own. As a consequence, they are disconnected from themselves. Jeannie offers a free e-newsletter titled “Notes on Claiming Your Life as Your Own” to support you in feeling the serenity, vitality, and wholeness that comes from inner confidence. When you subscribe, you will receive gifts to support you in this journey home to yourself, including an e-course from “The Inner Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Claiming Your Life as Your Own” written by Jeannie. Visit www.innerconfidencecoaching.com.