Lots of us with big hearts tend to put other people first on our list of priorities. But what would happen if you flipped that notion on its head and actually put yourself first? Even if your idea of happiness is helping other people, you need to make sure that you’re the number-one priority in your own life — no one else is going to do so.
You need to help yourself before you can help anyone else.
You’re told on airplanes to securely fasten your oxygen mask before helping another person get theirs on properly. If you’re going around helping everyone else before you help yourself, you could literally die. In order to effectively help others (and survive yourself), you need to make sure that you’re standing on your own two feet before making sure other people can find theirs.
Your friends, partner, and job can wait.
Putting yourself first shouldn’t just happen in romantic relationships — it should happen in every aspect of your life. You need to put yourself first in romance, friendship, jobs, and life. If you don’t take good care of yourself, there will be none of you left to go around.
Everyone and everything benefits from you being taken care of.
You may worry that putting yourself first is a selfish act, but picture this: one night you sleep a full eight hours and another night you sleep only three because you were up worrying about a friend. Do you think your friend is going to enjoy being around you more after you’ve placed yourself first by sleeping soundly or after you’ve stayed up all night worrying about her? When you care for yourself first, you can really show up for people at your full capacity.
Your life literally depends on self-care.
Maybe your flavor of placing yourself second is workaholism. You give everything to a company because you truly believe in the job. That’s great and all, but you can’t keep running yourself ragged. Your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life literally depends on you taking care of yourself. If you’re giving too much of yourself to a job, it’s deteriorating your health on some level. Regardless of what you’re sacrificing your own well-being for, it’s going to have the same detrimental effect on you eventually.
You’re the only person who knows what’s best for you.
Sometimes you’re not placing yourself first because you’re in a codependent romantic relationship where you try to meet all of each other’s needs. At some point, though, you realize that you cannot because you’re two different people, no matter how many similarities you may have. Even if your partner does their best to take care of you, you still need to be the one to do the majority of the work.
Your gut knows best.
You know when you’re around someone that you just don’t feel right about and your body tells you? It’s like your gut instincts are signaling to you to get out because the person isn’t safe or healthy for you to be around. If you’re ignoring that sensation, it can be just as harmful as ignoring the innate signals that you’re hungry or tired. Don’t force yourself into a situation or relationship if you get that feeling deep down that it’s not right for you.
You don’t have to feel guilty about saying no.
Sometimes, we get so focused on helping others that we become worried about turning them down when we feel like they need us. But learning to say no is crucial to maintaining your own mental and even physical well-being. Your own interests shouldn’t take a back seat just because someone else also needs a hand.
Self-love builds your self-esteem.
Choosing yourself day in and day out is an act of self-love. You’re sending a message to your body and mind that you’re indeed worthy of love and care. These gestures of kindness to yourself add up to build a beautiful sense of self-esteem. Before you know it, putting yourself before everyone else will become a healthy habit.
You don’t have to be afraid to ask for help.
Putting yourself first doesn’t mean that you’re isolating from other humans. It just means that you’re recognizing the importance of your needs and wants. Sometimes you can’t fulfill those needs or wants on your own, so you need some help. There is no shame at all in this. After all, other people are probably asking you for help all the time — it’s more than expected that you might need assistance, too.
You can still help other people.
There’s still room for others to be in your life. I mean, to be placed second or even in the top ten is pretty awesome. You still get to put your family, job, friends, lover, and hobbies on your list of priorities, and you can still help out where you can and want to. Now you’ll just do it after you’ve taken proper care of yourself!
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