There is a story about a king named Procrustes, who was paralyzed with fear of those who were different from him. Everyone who visited his kingdom had to lay down in a special “bed.” If they were too short to fit, they were stretched. If they were too tall, their feet were cut off. This is where we get the expression: “Procrustean Bed” which symbolizes the violence we do to ourselves, and others, and is done to us, in the name of conformity.
I’ll return to that thought.
Pay yourself first, whether that is finances (10% to investments, the principle never to be touched), time (the “Diamond Hour”–meditation, visualization, planning, exercise: one hour of every day is YOURS), love (love yourself first, and then give to others from that overflow), exercise (and here you have to do something odd: deliberately expend MORE energy than you absolutely need to get your calories. The ideal? Exercise BEFORE you eat, just like our ancestors had to do.)
If you do this, you get diametrically opposed to those who put their savings at the end of the bills, take care of everyone else first, or postpone exercise until everything else is done (here’s a hint: you will NEVER have enough time if you don’t seize it!)
One danger is that people can actually assume powerless positions to avoid conflict, competition, or being a target (“I’m harmless/powerless/sexless/broke/ effeminate. Don’t hurt men/desire me/bother with me”) “Payback” to parents or significant others who wronged us (“see how bad I’m doing? It’s your fault”).
In other words, people can literally lack permission to succeed, thrive, be healthy, happy, healthy, sexy, and strong. The answer to this is to feel safe and confident enough that fear doesn’t cripple you. And to love yourself enough to dream big and have the discipline and passion to go for your dreams. Love AND fear have to be balanced and directed healthfully.
And that’s not an easy thing in this, or any world I know of. But if you are to be an autonomous adult human being, you must either demand this of yourself, or be caught forever in a web of co-dependant relationships, and the results are, at very best, an “O.K.” life. That’s not bad. But it is not what that kid inside you dreamed of. And if you let the world make a Procrustean bed of your life, you are warping and damaging that child, stealing her dreams instead of nurturing her…
All my life I’ve admired those who rose above, who found the way, who refused to let the circumstances of their lives control them. To the degree that I’ve mastered that in my own life, I’m delighted. To the degree that I have not…
The road ahead is crystal clear. I simply won’t let that kid down, and every time I get quiet I can hear him cheer: “Go Go Go, Daddy! I love you!”
And I love that kid. And will die before I let him down, or let anyone anywhere hurt him, ever again. Paying myself first is paying HIM first.
Don’t get between me and my kids. Don’t even think about it.