A lot of us struggle with putting ourselves first. Our knee-jerk reaction to putting our own needs first is that it’s selfish and wrong. This is especially true for women, who are expected to be nurturers and always put others before themselves.
If you feel like you’ve been stretched too thin from thinking too much about other people, what you think they need and what you think they think, then this post is for you. While it’s titled “Why it’s Okay to Put Yourself First,” the message I really want to get across is “Why You Need to Put Yourself First.” If you’ve turned to this post, then I’m sure this is what you need to be reminded of.
If you’re caught in a desperate cycle of people pleasing, putting other’s needs before your own, one of the most important things to remember is:
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Why you need to put yourself first
Putting yourself first isn’t a selfish act. Making time for yourself, loving yourself, and doing what’s right for you is necessary for your own wellbeing, and for that of those around you.
Only by nurturing yourself can you nurture other people. Only by treating yourself in the best way you can, can you contribute to the lives of others in a meaningful way. So don’t try pouring from an empty cup. It won’t quench anyone’s thirst.
When you start putting yourself first, other people may notice. And they may not like it. Don’t let other people guilt-trip you for doing what’s right for you.
If you have a history of putting your needs and desires on the back burner, remember that you don’t owe other people pieces of you. Other people are responsible for their own happiness. You are responsible for yours.
Often, we assume what others will think and feel, which inhibits us from taking the action we need for ourselves. I’ve driven myself crazy with the assumptions I’ve made about what other people may think. All assumptions are based on false information. So don’t assume.
Don’t think on behalf of others, but listen to your own inner guide. We all have one. It takes practice to listen to yourself, but it’s where all the answers lie.
Stepping into your own power
In some way, putting others’ needs first is a way to be passive about our own lives. By focusing on another’s needs or expectations – perceived or not – we lose complete focus on ourselves. Besides the belief that putting others first is the more noble thing to do, it is also a way for us to avoid taking responsibility for our own lives.
Sooner or later, we all learn that no one else can save us. No one else knows us more than we know ourselves. And we can only save ourselves when we step into the journey of self-awareness. Honoring who we are is how we step into our own power. And it’s how we slowly begin to carve a path of our own, where we can impact the world around us by being our truest selves.
If you’re still not convinced
Things change. People change. Life is unpredictable. Knowing how to take care of yourself – and actually doing it – is the best investment you can make. It’s a lot harder to crumble when you’ve got your own back.
Doing the things that are right for you rather than what is expected of you builds the confidence you need to thrive in this world. By putting yourself first, you will inevitably attract the people and experiences you need in your life.
It’s also a way to take responsibility for your life. Blaming others, or even yourself, for the way things are isn’t productive. Releasing blame helps you retire feelings of resentment, giving you more space to be generous with yourself and with others.
None of this is to say that being a giving and nurturing person is a bad thing. On the contrary – we need more of the goodness and light you bring to the world. Just remember to be kind to yourself, take responsibility for your life, and never feel guilty for being who you are. Then and only then will your light radiate to those around you.