It’s time to blow the lid off a huge myth in our culture — the idea that it’s selfish to put yourself first. Sure, no one wants to be that girl that truly thinks that the world should cater to her schedule and desires. Still, putting yourself first doesn’t make you a terrible person. When you love someone else, it’s natural to want to prioritize their desires and needs. You want to make them happy, right? But, loving others doesn’t mean that you can’t love yourself, too.
The bottom line is that we have to take care of ourselves. You can’t save anybody else and you definitely can’t force the world to change. You’re the only thing in this world that you have full control over. If you’re running on empty, you have absolutely no energy to put into others. Here’s why putting your own physical/mental/emotional needs first puts you in the position to actually be selfless. In addition, we’ve included some tips on how to put this shift into practice.
Why you should put yourself first in life
- Burnout is real, and it’s a bitch. Pushing yourself constantly will always eventually lead to complete and total burnout. You won’t be able to do much more than order takeout from under the covers if your situation gets that bad, and you might lose everything you’re working so hard to achieve.
- You can get more done if you take the time to recharge. It might seem like taking a break will cause you to fall behind, but in the long run, you’ll actually get more accomplished. You’ll be more energized and efficient after recharging, and that extra boost will more than compensate for any time off you take.
- It hurts your loved ones to see you completely drained. If you’re the type of woman who can’t seem to ever put herself first, remember that your loved ones don’t want you to be completely worn out. It hurts them to see you suffering, and you aren’t really any good to them if you’re too exhausted to operate at more than 10 percent.
- When you’re exhausted, your work suffers. You might be able to keep chugging along churning out work with no breaks forever, but eventually, the quality of your work will begin to suffer. You can’t show the world what you’re capable of if you’re too overworked to do your best.
- Life’s a marathon, not a sprint. Contrary to the popular expression, life is actually pretty long. If you’re going to build and grow long-term, you need to pace yourself. Burning out too early will put you in a bad position down the road.
- All work and no play make you a dull person. And a miserable human being. No one wants to be around you if you have nothing to talk about aside from work and chores, especially if you’re not even happy about what you’ve been doing.
- If you don’t put yourself first, no one will. How can you expect your significant other to put you first when you won’t even do it for yourself? If your actions tell the world that you aren’t a priority, you can’t be surprised when it treats you that way.
- Long-term stress has serious side effects. Chronic stress can cause some really serious mental and physical side effects. If you’re killing yourself to be hyperproductive all the time, you might literally be killing yourself. If you’re working hard now so you can relax later in life, make sure you take enough breaks so you will actually make it that far.
- You deserve a break. You weren’t born to just work constantly up until the day you die. You deserve time to relax, have fun, or take an adventure. If you never have time to enjoy yourself, what are you even working so hard for?
- The people you love the most love you back. You want your friends to be healthy, happy, and thriving and they want the same for you. If you’re beaten down physically and mentally, your irritability will start to affect not only yourself, but also the ones you love. By spending time on you, you’re able to put more energy into your relationships.
- You have to rest your star player if you want your team to succeed. You’re the all-star of your team. No matter how strong your supporting players are, you still need to show up to do well. If you’re stressed and burned out, you’ll freeze and be unable to face your challenges. Sometimes you need to let go of your obligations, rest and recoup, and come back and face life like a boss.
- No one else will be able to save you. No one can do the work for you. No one’s going to drop out of the stars and point you in the right direction. A knight in shining armor isn’t coming to swoop you off of your feet. You’re all you’ve got, babe. There’s no use complaining to whoever will listen, waiting for someone to make a change for you. So take the time and do the work for yourself and you will reap the benefits. Who knows, you may encourage your friends to do the same.
- You’ve got to refuel if you want to have something to offer. Stress, anxiety, and downright exhaustion take a major toll on your body and mind. In order to help your friends with their problems, you need to be fully present in the conversation. But if you push yourself to the absolute limit, you barely have enough energy to go through the motions.
- You can’t change the world, but you sure as hell can change yourself. The only way you can help the world be a better place is by being a better person. Plain and simple. Everyone wants to change the way of the world, but many aren’t willing to start with themselves.
- You have to take care of yourself first. It’s in our nature to be selfish. We often don’t do things unless we can get something out of them, as well, so take care of your needs first. Only when you’re taken care of can you help take care of others.
- You don’t live with your mom anymore. It doesn’t matter why you’re mad, sick, and tired. But honey, we’re all there at one point or another. Always consider your feelings first, because no one else is going to. Mom isn’t there anymore to make you meals and have your back no matter what; you have to make sure you take care of yourself.
How to do it
- Decide on your own self-care. There’s a lot of talk about what self-care is and isn’t, but you should choose the type of self-care that makes you feel good, boosts your confidence, and allows you to show yourself some love. Some days it might be a manicure, while on others it will be a pep talk you give yourself in front of the bathroom mirror. Do whatever works for you.
- Learn how to say no. One of the most important words is also really short: no. It’s also one of the easiest ways to put yourself first. It’s so simple to say and yet so difficult to send out of your mouth at times. If you really don’t want to help your friend make dinner for her colleagues because you’re tired or you really don’t have time to go on a date tonight, don’t force yourself. Instead of worrying about what others will think, do what feels right for what you need right now.
- Lose the guilt. Seriously, guilt is such a waste of time and energy. But what’s even worse is that when you’re riddled with guilt, you fall all the way down to the bottom of your list. Guilt can motivate you to please other people and waste your last resources which should’ve actually gone to yourself.
- Set boundaries. You’ve heard it lots and now you’re going to hear it again: you need boundaries. They’re an act of self-love. They show the world that you deserve respect. If you can’t show it to yourself, you can’t expect it from others.
- Do what you love. It’s your right to live your life the way you want to, but it’s easy to forget about the things you really love to do. It’s time to start making them more of a priority because when you do that, you’re really making your joy a priority.
- Give yourself space in relationships. You should never spend all your time with the person you’re with and love – some of that time has to go to yourself. Whether you spend the time doing your favorite arts and crafts or just staring into space, it’s important to have a space in which your thoughts and feelings can surface so you can check in with yourself without anyone interrupting you.
- Pay attention to your gut. This is one of the most important ways to put yourself first. You need to listen to your intuition because it’s where your innermost truth lies. It tries to get your attention all the time so it can save you from horrible situations and remind you to tune into your feelings.
- Remember your worth. You’re enough. You don’t have to be two sizes smaller or have a bigger personality or a more contagious laugh, and you certainly don’t have to make others love you. You are awesome and the right people will notice all that makes you great. Walking around feeling like you’re not good enough will only make you miserable and push people away without you realizing it.
- Fight for your needs. We don’t mean basic human or social needs, although those are important. We mean things you need from life and your relationships in order to be respected and happy. You should fight for what you deserve because if you don’t, you can’t expect others to do it for you. Your needs matter — don’t forget that.
- Set some limits. FYI, these are not a sign of weakness. Although it’s good to believe in yourself and chase your dreams, it’s also good to know what you won’t do to get ahead. If you’re pushing yourself too much to achieve, it’s healthy to know when you should stop and take a break. Your limits are there to protect you, and knowing where they are set will help you to put yourself in the top spot. There’s nowhere else you should be, after all.