Life Changes

Giving ourselves a higher priority

How many of us commit to being in relationships, yet continually put ourselves on a lower level of priority or value?

Admittedly, it’s a very complicated question, and too layered for an 800-word column. My words may not reflect your situation. However, I will venture to offer some thoughts to begin the conversation.

I think we all deal with this question in various family, friend or work situations. Yet it has been quite painful for so many of this community’s readers.

Over the years, most of the people I spoke with felt they were “losing themselves” through someone else’s expectations of who they should act like, and what they should be doing with their life.

Their difficulty in saying “no” to another’s expectations gave them mixed emotions. While their gut told them “no,” they heard themselves say “OK” once again.

People were weighing which thing to speak up about. Both men and women stated they just wanted to be a “good person,” yet felt underestimated and devalued.

My concern is that I have met so many people, of all ages, who treat themselves as “other” instead of “equal” — or someone who is “not yet deserving.”

So I will ask you. Do you think that in order to be a “good” person, you personally feel compelled to accommodate someone else first?

I ask you to answer yourself honestly. Is there a voice inside that says the same thing to you?

If you are having difficulty with this interaction, you’re not alone. Let’s look at a variety of things that can come into play, and see what might resonate or not.

When we were children, numerous trusted influences defined and reinforced what it meant to be a “good girl” or “good boy.” The same is true for the concept of “bad” or “right and wrong.” Not everyone got the same messages. Yet during early childhood development, children take messages quite literally.

And based on what life experience? If children didn’t feel understood, accepted, loved or safe, they might continue to allow others to control them in life; however uncomfortable. It may be the only “normal” someone has known.

It doesn’t mean that will last forever. While we have varying roles to balance, one of our lynchpins with happiness is being able to be express our truest self.

Still, some people will try to manipulate you, to continue putting their needs and wants ahead of your own. The use of guilt, and shaming, can be quite powerful tools for others to challenge your thinking. That reflects on them. Not you.

Some of us have personal difficulty with the concepts of “allowing” and “accepting”; as if it’s improper. With a shift in perspective, both could enrich someone’s life.

Or maybe an “inner critic” or “judge” in your self-talk could be a part of the challenge. We can be hard on ourselves for something we have said or not said — done or not done.

If you listen very closely to that “voice,” you may just find that your inner critic is a memory of someone else’s voice that needs to shift to what you know is actually your truth — not their words.

I also understand that people can give themselves a type of “punishment sentence.” Stated too simplistically, people may not believe they deserve happiness or a higher self worth, as a way of not knowing how to move forward from a loss or trauma; particularly those with survivor guilt.

Sometimes we have an awakening and wonder if it’s too late to change. I believe this moment — every moment — offers an opportunity to take a fresh step using the same curiosity as a child would.

Now, I think you were born to be quite special, and that you have more than one purpose in this lifetime. Your personality and interests are unique for a reason. I hope you will explore the full scope with great excitement, and share it with others.

I think we can innocently create beliefs that structure our lives. Observe where you place your attention, and then listen to your inner wisdom.

We have the power to shift our beliefs; especially during “ah ha” moments! Each life empowering experience doesn’t need to come with total clarity. Many begin with one profound new question to consider.

May you allow your life to expand into possibilities that you cannot yet even imagine its full potential. Extend yourself a daily invitation to live fully. Express your true voice bravely. Be yourself unapologetically. Enjoy how it will pull you upward into a newer level of living.

I invite you to join me at the monthly “Navigating Life Changes” group held every third Tuesday of the month at the Akasha Center for Holistic Medicine from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Please contact me directly if you can join us by emailing

Langley is the author of “Life Changes … “ Her column is published the first Sunday of every other month in the Lifestyle section.