I should mention that I was never very good at this when I was younger. Seriously, I can’t even count the number of times my parents told me to get my priorities straight. I’m sure they meant well enough by this, but there was never much discussion over what “getting my priorities straight” meant. However, I’m a mother myself now and have had time to figure it out, in no small part by watching how my parents did it. So, I guess they did teach me after a fashion.
- God: The scriptures teach us that, if you put God first, everything else will fall into place. In the New Testament, Christ taught, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). What this means is that, when we set our priorities, doing the things God would want us to do should always come first. If we do this, everything else we need will come to us.
- Self Care: I remember my mother once told me, “You have to take care of yourself first or you won’t have anything to give anyone else.” How right she was! Lately, my family has been involved in something called Trauma Chat, about dealing with the results of childhood abuse, and one of the things they say habitually on this chat is “Please, practice good self-care.” That means more than just good hygiene. It means being good to yourself if you’re triggered (thanks to previous personal trauma). It means giving yourself the same kind of care a good mother would give you. It’s up to you to figure out what that means.
- Family: That word means different things to different people, so I’m not going to presume to tell you what family means. To me, family means those people to whom I am related, usually living in the same house. If you’re the victim of abuse you might have to move some people I would consider family out to a different ring of priority like friends or others. In any case, my family are people I live with and, since that is the case, they take priority right after taking care of myself.
- Friends: To me, these are people I choose to surround myself with. I like to pick people who help me with Priority #2. They bolster my self confidence and help me feel good about myself. To me, good friends are the family you choose. Someone wise once said “A good friend is someone who knows everything there is to know about you and likes you anyway.” In other words, if they aren’t doing that, you need to move them to a lower priority.
- Others: These are people who you help when every other priority has been covered. Others are the people who don’t matter, you don’t really know, or who can be physically, emotionally or spiritually harmful to you. Generally, this means that they are pretty far down on your list of priorities. You only help them if it doesn’t interfere with any other priorities, particularly self-care.
- Self Service: There’s a big difference between Self Care and Self Service. Self Care means doing what you NEED to make it through the day. Self-Service means doing what you WANT to just entertain yourself. That’s an important distinction. In any case, serving yourself should, in my opinion, always come last.
Okay, Mom and Dad, I know it’s hard to believe, but I think I finally have my priorities straight.
Question Time: Do you agree with my list? Are your priorities different? If you would rearrange my list, how would you do it and why? I can’t wait to read your comments!