“Be enough for yourself first, the rest of the world can wait.”
Putting yourself first is not about being selfish or disregarding others feelings, it is about doing what is best for you. Throughout my journey of self development, considering the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ thing to do for myself as an individual, whilst also taking into account what the people in my life ‘expect’ or ‘want’ from me has been challenging. I have had constant battles in my head between the old/current me (anxious, over-thinker, trying to keep everyone happy etc.) versus the me I am actively trying to become (confident, happy, self-loving and at peace).
I have always been a person who puts others’ needs before my own, since it is in my nature to do so, as I want to see those around me happy. Even if it means putting aspects of my life on hold. Part of doing this can be seen as an act of self-fulfilment because I do enjoy the validation, and acknowledgment of people appreciating my acts of service. It can also be seen as putting your life on hold because, how will you truly be able to live your life if the majority of your life is dictated by what others want from you and not what you want for yourself?
Everyday is a new page within the chapter of your book called ’life’. Some days everything can go to plan and be easy to deal with, whereas other times we may be faced with many challenges, trials and tribulations that can affect us mentally or physically. When we are going through these hard times, it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, let alone take on someone else’s burdens. Going through these emotions can create an overwhelming sense of guilt for wanting to put your needs before someone else. You may be thinking, ‘what if they are going through something much worse than I am? – they need me.’ The truth is, there is always going to be someone who is in a worse position than you are in, but that does not mean that you should invalidate your struggles. Constantly having this internal battle can be mentally draining, but you need to remind yourself that every aspect of your life DOES matter and will ALWAYS matter.
You are not selfish for wanting to put your needs first, because the same way people in your life are dealing with life’s many curveballs, you are too. You should not feel an obligation to help everyone else to deal with their burdens when you are dealing with your own too. People in your life should also not feel entitled to getting your help or time either, unless you genuinely want to do so but that decision should be your choice.
You are now probably questioning, so how do I avoid these thoughts and feelings and move forward with putting myself first, guilt free? Well, I can tell you this journey is not going to be easy, but anything worth having in life never is. It is going to take time, consistency and practice. At first, it will feel wrong and uncomfortable as this is not your norm, but over time these actions will become second nature. It is time for you to take action and be the main character in your story, start living for YOU and stop living for other people.
Some tips that can help you on your journey are:
Learn to say no: Stand up for yourself, when you do not want to do something instead of agreeing to it based on the fear of emotional manipulation or the other person being upset with you. You should be able to make your own decisions and have both the equal opportunity to say yes or have the choice to refuse.
Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to relay to friends and family so that they understand your perspective, which will allow you to become more comfortable with embarking on this ‘putting yourself first’ journey without hurting their feelings.
Help yourself before you help others: Ensure all of your own responsibilities have been attended to first before you take on the task of helping others, as this could be very overwhelming to juggle.
Always take time for yourself to recharge: Do not overwork yourself or fill up your schedule with too many commitments. Taking breaks from everyday obstacles is essential. Your body, mind and spirit all need to recharge so that you can live life to the best of your abilities. Whether this is embarking on activities / hobbies that you enjoy or just relaxing, make sure you take time for YOU.
The Trifecta: Body, Mind and Spirit
Body: Look after your body with a self care routine, nourish it with the right foods, regularly exercise or do yoga.
Mind: Do things that you love, be around people that you love and bring out the best in you, or learn something new.
Spirit: Daily affirmations and gratitude, meditate and be one with yourself.
- Never feel guilty for doing what is best for you
- Do what makes you happy
- Be kind to yourself
- Be unapologetically you
- Strive to be the best version of you
- Love yourself unconditionally
P.S. I have faith in you… Look forward, seize the day and put yourself first!