Tired of Not Being a Priority in Your Life? Embrace the Self First Movement

Have you gotten too used to putting everyone else's needs ahead of your own? It just might be time to put yourself first and embrace the Self First Movement.

Created by confidence coach and empowerment speaker Shawanna Kennedy, the movement is not about selfishness, but about elevating you, discovering your place in the world and finding your voice to live your best life. We had a chance to speak with her about how to practice Self First, and how it'll change your life.

Sweety High: How would you define the Self First Movement?

Shawanna Kennedy: Self First is you considering you. The very first gift we were given, whether we have faith or not, was us. We were given life.  The key is to remember that.

I felt free to call it exactly what it is. Self First is self-caring about yourself first. Your mental health is your mental wealth. I call it the ABCs. It's acknowledging yourself, it's being brave and bold enough to believe in who you are, and then having confidence and being courageous enough to stand in your own truth. Of course, not everybody else is going to like you. You're not everybody's cup of coffee, but you just might be somebody's cup of tea. That's okay.

In my adult life, I had to start cheering for myself. That's where Self First came from. I understand the importance and uniqueness and the beauty of "me," and that's why I spread the message that it's okay to be you. I tell people to show up being you because that's who people want to meet. If you show up as someone else, when the real you comes out, they're going to think they're dealing with a different person or that you've changed. Be okay with authentically being you the first time and let people get to know the real you.


(Courtesy of Shawanna Kennedy)


SH: Why do you think so many people fall off their own list of priorities?

SK: I believe it's through tradition. We do what we've been taught, and it's generational. I believe in teaching people to start putting themselves first at a younger age. If we inform them when they're young, we will have healthier adults than what we have right now.


SH: Why is Self First so much more than selfishness? 

SK: Being bold enough to call it Self First, you know I've heard that before. Helping people to understand that it's not selfish is a necessity. Of course, it's never above anybody's faith, which is why I go back to it being about what you were given. If you don't put yourself first, that means you're not doing your primary job.

In order for us to be of greater service to ourselves and to other people, we have to know what it feels like to start with us. The reason why we get the relationships we get, or don't, is that most people do not know how to put themselves first. They don't understand self-love. Self-love doesn't mean unconditional love, because we're only human, but to understand and love ourselves inside and out. Understand and acknowledge who you are.  William Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true." Know who you are so you know what and what not to do.

Acknowledge the things that have happened to you, and that will happen to you. Only then can you take the steps to move beyond them. Some people come from tumultuous pasts and really traumatic situations, but they can still take the steps to move beyond them. Not get over it, because some things in life can't just be "gotten over, " but you can take an effort to move beyond it and still thrive. That may even be the catalyst for what you are intended to become.

No one is here by mistake. It doesn't matter how you came to be. If you were created, you were created with a purpose, for a purpose to do something. You can be the person in a room that someone needs to see smile. You can be the hugger. Maybe someone just needs to hear your voice. Maybe you're the listener. Everybody has something they're called to do. I applaud the youth who find their calling early and know it right away. Others still need a safe place to land, to openly express who they are, without judgment, and people need each other right where they are so they can grow together. Everybody has something to offer. Everybody has something to give.

Self First really is about you. People who have a problem with that haven't had their awakening. It has nothing to do with being boastful. It's people understanding who they are and knowing their actual worth. We are worthy. Someone needs your voice. They need what you could potentially create. Some of the best-kept secrets are in the grave. Some of the greatest music that will ever be made will never be heard because people are not allowing others to be free to create the things that they were actually brought here for.


(via Shutterstock)


SH: When do you think it's most critical for a young woman to put herself first?

SK: If she is ever in the midst of a conversation with someone that makes her feel angry or sad, she should really tune in. When you feel those negative emotions, something is wrong. Anything that makes you feel sad, or weighted down, or anxious, is a sign. It's okay to start saying no to other people and start saying yes to you.


SH: How do you think people's lives change for the better when they start putting themselves first and truly knowing who they are?

SK: Some people are being suffocated because they're living the way somebody else wants them to live. They're able to breathe and finally exhale. They're finally able to even see themselves and come into knowing what they really want.

I do workshops with people where they have to look at and reflect on things they don't even realize they're doing, whether that's in body language or in the tone of their voice, or how they carry themselves. Some people are able to read you just based on how you walk into the room. There are so many things we do and project that we don't even have a clue about.

In life, I've discovered that by embracing who I am (and am still becoming), I've lived a life fuller with abundance and greater joy—not just happiness. To be happy is wonderful, but most people are happy based on what is happening. I strive for, and strive in joy. One of the key ways to do that is to be okay with who you are and to be authentically you.

There are a few things I always say. Know what your passion is. Know what keeps you woke, and what wakes you up. We often do what we have to do, when we should do what we want to do. Don't live with regret. Understand it's okay to put yourself first. What would you tell your younger self? Tell that to yourself, now. Love yourself right where you are right now. It's all about being present. If you spend all your time thinking about tomorrow, you'll miss the opportunity today. What's your "why"? Understand yourself and your "why."


(via Shutterstock)


For more on how to make yourself the priority, click HERE to find out how to "be that unicorn" by being yourself and embracing authenticity.