When was the last time you shut out the noise and minimised the distractions to reconnect with what’s truly going on inside?
When was the last time you scheduled some time to check-in with your future-self and have a conversation about the life you truly want to lead?
When was the last time you emptied life’s backpack, minimised any excess weight you may be carrying, only to put back in the items which are truly serving you – those items filled with meaning, joy, love, warmth and lightness?
When was the last time someone else gave you permission to put yourself first?
Well, if you’ve been looking for it, this is it. I’m giving it to you right now, as there’s never been a more important time for every single one of us to recognise that putting ourselves first when we need to can in-fact be one of the most selfless things we can be doing for others.
Here’s why I’m so passionate about this conversation:
In 2012 I had no choice but to put myself first, to do what I needed to do to pick myself up from a crippling state of depression which left me wanting to take my own life. At the time, after pushing my mind to the limit and focussing on nothing else but my work, I ended up in psychiatric wards with a clear diagnosis of bipolar disorder before spending over half a year being bed-bound and seeing no way back from the breaking point I found myself in. I was debilitated, I was broken, I was done.
From that place of emptiness (with an abundance of love, patience and empathy from those closest to me), I had no choice but to strip life back to the bare essentials and completely start again. I shut out the noise, paid attention to what was really going on inside and took action on what I knew I needed to do to start rebuilding my life with far more intentionality and balance between the stuff which matters most in life - our health, relationships, passions, growth and the positive impact we have on other people.
I began speaking openly about my experiences, I began sharing my story, I began drawing the meaning from what I went through and applying my experiences in a way which would ultimately go on to inspire tens of thousands of others to speak up about their own personal battles. For me, the result of ‘taking stock’ and having no choice other than putting myself first was so transformative that it lead to a powerful 5-year journey of recovery where I stepped in to the very best version of myself. This resulted in a 1250-mile solo running adventure from the Colosseum in Rome back to the London Eye in 2017, which I used as a huge platform to share my story on a national scale and celebrate the power of speaking up when we’re struggling.
Now in 2020 - knowing that transformation wouldn’t have come without a huge jolt in how I was living my life at the time - I can’t help but see the massive parallels to this current chapter we’re all living through with COVID-19 and seeing the opportunity we all have in front of us to do the same. To take stock and assess whether our current lifestyles and habits are best-placed to serve us as we look to the future together. We all know that we can’t pour from an empty cup, and if a global pandemic isn’t the jolt we’ve all needed as a global society to ask ourselves the big questions in life and top ourselves up after this huge year we’ve all experienced so far, then I’m not sure what is.
So what does putting ourselves first look like and why can it be such a selfless act?
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 103, Pages 40-42.