THE BLOG
01/24/2011 09:09 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Putting Yourself First: Finding Worth and Validation Inside

The most important relationship you have is your relationship with yourself. So many of us ignore ourselves, take ourselves for granted, function on automatic pilot or at the whims and desires of others without knowing exactly what we want until something happens we definitely don't want. "What's going on?" we wonder. "How did this come to pass? How did I get myself into a mess?" When you don't pay attention, the universe has its ways of waking you up. The good news is that negativity can point or push you in the right direction. Pain can be a good thing. You can get so sick and tired of being sick and tired that you change. You can wake up to you.

We create, promote or allow everything in our lives. What have you been creating? What are you allowing in? What are you letting happen because "That's the way it's always been," or "I can't change them" or any of a myriad of excuses? Are you doing what you do because of conditioning, because of "shoulds" "ought tos"? Do you disregard yourself? Do you give others the power to hurt you?

Accept where you are as information, not as judgment. You have to know where you are to go somewhere else. It is a good place to start.

Your relationship with yourself is ultimately reflected in your relationships with others. How well you get along with yourself is mirrored by how you get along with others. What do you need to learn, or unlearn?

Are you a player in someone else's movie? Then star in your own. This is your life. The most important job you have is taking care of yourself. How are you doing at it? And how about getting in touch with you? Do you know who you are?

"Oh," you may say, "I'm a lawyer or an account executive or an executive. A wife, a husband, a daughter, a son." You may know yourself superficially. The key is to know yourself intimately. Getting to know yourself takes time. Quiet time. Not running out shopping, eating, taking a lover, having your hair done, smoking, drugs, drinking, changing jobs, taking care of someone else, etc. Don't distract yourself from you.

A good way to start is to ask yourself these questions about everything you contemplate doing: Does this increase my joy, loving and abundance? Is this something that will fulfill me?

If the answer is no, stop. This is an area that needs looking at. I'm not suggesting you abrogate responsibilities to your children or family. I'm suggesting you take a fine-tooth comb and look at your actions, one at a time. Change starts and ends with you. You can't really help others if you can't help yourself. If you're not centered and balanced, how can you assist others? When you come from a place of strength and peace, others respond to it. You become an actor -- not a reactor. You can be an example.

In the morning, before you go out in the world, take some time to be with yourself, to contemplate your day and what you want to accomplish. What do you want to create? Complete? Have happen? Participate in? Set your intention for that day. Think about ways you can bring what you intend to pass, not in wishful thinking, but by measurable actions. How will you work toward your goal? Maybe you want to relax more -- not let every horn, every bus ride, every subway trip ruffle your feathers. Practice it. Remind yourself. And if you forget, laugh. We all make mistakes. If you make a big funny one you will remember it and most likely will be more aware next time.

In the evening, review the day. See what worked for you and what didn't. Let go of the mistakes, the "I could have done" and the "I should have done." Look for the learning, evaluate. Don't judge your actions or yourself.

Choose your words and actions wisely. That means slowing down. Take a breath before you respond. Count to ten if someone gets you angry. Say, "Let me get back to you on that." Admit that you need more time. You don't have to decide anything within anyone else's time frame. Do what works for you.

Get enough rest, exercise and eat the right foods. Associate with friends who are positive and supportive, friends and family who nurture you. We can't control others' feelings, emotions and attitudes. Don't give them power over you. Stay centered and focused. Practice awareness and patience, especially with yourself. If you go outside to find your worth and your validation, go inside to discover it. Validate yourself. Live your own opinion. Check things out with others, but be careful of agendas. We are all conditioned in certain ways. Don't fall victim to it. Don't fall victim to emotional demands, especially your own. Quiet yourself. Ask where those thoughts and emotions are coming from. Are you allowing something that happened years ago to dictate your actions today?

How about living in the present? Begin a new day today. Forget the past and forgive it. Forgive those who hurt you, and forgive yourself for allowing it. Then move on and truly forget it. Let it go. Don't let the past dictate your present or your future. No need to analyze who did what, why they did it and why you did something. It's done. Over. Move past it. Bury it. Love yourself -- then it's easy to love others.

Most people have two lives: the life we live on a daily basis and the unlived life within us. Look at that. Think why not? Songs, poems, books and movies all tell us to listen to our hearts. These aren't silly romantic notions. Our heart speaks to us. Don't dismiss it. Try listening for a change. The surprise might be you.