As a compassionate and empathatic person, you’re naturally inclined to put other people before you. And naturally, that’s a wonderful way to be. But there are times when you need to put yourself first. Here are five ways to do just that.
So you’re putting everyone else before yourself. You always try and please everyone. And there’s no way you’d put yourself first ever.
Because that’s “selfish”, isn’t it?
Putting yourself first, placing your needs above the needs of others, that’s… immoral. That’s self centred. That’s…
How I Finally Realised That I Need To Put Myself First
Yesterday I personally learned how important it is to put myself first sometimes and to consider myself before others.
Problem is, if you continue down the path of always putting others before yourself you will end up with little for yourself.
This reality became very clear to me yesterday.
For the past year I’ve been working my butt off on this website and on other things. 99 percent of the time when I have wanted to do something for myself I’ve decided that I don’t have the time and that there’s too much work to be done.
Then two and a half weeks ago my mum came to visit. She lives in England. I live in Canada. We see each other twice a year.
The second my mum came to visit I immediately decided that I had enough time to take the entire two and half weeks off to do everything she wanted to do.
I love my mum immensely and am glad to spend time with her and to do whatever she likes to do. So I am happy that I spent those past two and a half weeks with her.
But at the same time there is an obvious logical flaw here.
Because how could it be that I didn’t have any time for myself for the past year, but then suddenly had two and a half weeks of solid time to give to my mother?
My situation didn’t change. I had just as much work to do. But the entire time I’d been by myself I’d always been too busy, then suddenly when she came to visit I had two and a half weeks off. How can that possibly be the case?
The answer is this: I put my mother before myself, just as I put others before myself.
Time off for me? No way. Time off for family and friends? Sure, I’ll gladly give them however much time they want.
If I considered myself and my needs to be as important as others and their needs, things would be different.
My point here isn’t that you shouldn’t ever give to other people. Of course you should. Generosity is invaluable and a kind spirit is the most beautiful thing a person can possess.
But always putting others before yourself simply isn’t fair to you.
You deserve to put yourself first sometimes so that, for instance, when your mother comes to visit for her two and a half week holiday, you say to yourself “Well, if I can take two and a half weeks off, I’ll give half of that to you, and half of it to me”. That’s beyond generous—dedicating 9 days to someone else is very kind if you ask me—but it also leaves time for you.
Thankfully, I’m lucky because my mum is awesome and I love spending time with her. But she’s an exception. And, if like me you’re the type of person to always put others before yourself, you will find people taking advantage of you.
Are you too kind to other people?
Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re too kind to other people:
- Do your friends give you as much as you give them (be honest)?
- Does your husband / wife show as much love and kindness to you as you do to them?
- Are your relationships equal, or are you giving everything and getting nothing?
If you answered No to the question above, it might be time to learn a few ways to put yourself first.
Now trust me, I know, if you’re the type of person who is naturally generous and loving, you’ll probably think “Well, my friends don’t give as much to me as I do to them, but it’s just because they’re busy / stressed / in a difficult situation.”
Sorry, that just doesn’t fly.
You wouldn’t say to your friends “I’d like to help but I’m too busy”. So why should they be able to say that to you?
You deserve to be put first and you deserve to put yourself first.
So how do you do that?
5 Ways To Put Yourself First Today
- Write a list of things you would like to do this week and do them
If you’re going to put yourself first, you need to decide on some specific ways to put yourself first.
This might be difficult, because many of us have learnt to be bullies to ourselves. As Laci Mosier says on Wanderlust “We’re taught to be kind to others from the very beginning, but all too often we leave ourselves off the list. Without even realizing it, we can be our biggest bully and greatest adversary.”
That’s why you need to decide some ways to be kind to yourself.
Go ahead and write a list of things you would like to do this week. Schedule them. Write them down.
Do it now. Right now.
No, don’t continue reading, I want you to genuinely do this right now. Write your list this second. Because by the time you get to the end of this article I want you to already be putting yourself first.
So, write your list of ways to put yourself first.
Next to that list write reasons why you might not do those things.
For instance, “I’d like to go to the cinema with my husband this weekend, but he will probably want to stay in and watch the football”.
Your mission is to fight for the things you want regardless of what anyone else says about it.
By being aware of the possible stumbling blocks, the things that will stop you from doing what you want to do, you can find ways around those problems.
So, write a list of ways to put yourself first. And if there is an obstacle in the way, remove it.
Ways to put yourself first–
- Say no.
If you’re a people pleaser you’ve likely faced many situations where you’ve been asked to do something you don’t want to do.
“Can you cover my shift?” your friend asks, knowing that you’ve got plans. “Sure,” you usually say, because you’re a people pleaser and you put everyone else first.
Put yourself first.
“No I can’t cover your shift because I have to do…”.
When you’ve learnt to put others before yourself it can be hard to say no, because saying no means putting yourself first, before the needs of the other person.
Well, tough cookie matie, because your needs matter and you need to fight for them.
Challenge yourself to say no to 5 requests this week. And if you feel worried or afraid to say no, then read this guide to overcoming fear.
Writing for Tiny Buddha, Kelly Hodgson says, “List all of the things that you’ve done over the past three to six months that you didn’t want to do.
“Once you have your list, go through and write down the reasons that you didn’t want to do each thing. You will probably notice some recurring reasons; for example, it cut into my time with my family, it made me too tired, it wasn’t something I was comfortable doing because…
“Use these reasons to start setting some boundaries for yourself.”
Ways to put yourself first–
- Create a mantra
Mantras are a wonderful way to train yourself to think differently.
Mantras are simple repetitions of words.
By repeating the mantra “I am putting myself first” you will train your brain to do precisely that.
So choose a mantra:
- “Me first,”
- “I am prioritising myself”
- “I come first”
… repeat that mantra to yourself and start to believe that your needs truly do come first.
Ways to put yourself first–
- Loving Kindness Meditation
Sometimes, the reason you’re unwilling to put yourself first is because deep down you believe you don’t deserve to be put first.
Reality check: you deserve the best. You deserve to put yourself first. And if you disagree, you need to change your mind. You need to learn to love yourself as much as you love everyone else.
The most potent tool for developing self love is a specific meditation technique. It’s called Loving Kindness Meditation. I’ve create a guide to get you started. Just click the link.
Click that link (above) now so you can start loving yourself today. Then, once you truly love yourself, you will start to put yourself first more often (while still being kind and generous to other people too).
Ways to put yourself first–
- Tell other people that you are putting yourself first for a change because you deserve it.
Have you ever noticed that when you say your thoughts out loud they become more real? Have you ever noticed that when you tell people what you’re thinking your thoughts become an actual, tangible thing?
That’s why you’re going to tell people that you are putting yourself first. In fact, you’re going to specifically tell them the ways in which you’re putting yourself first.
In step 1 we wrote a list of ways to put yourself first. Share that list with close friends and family. Tell them the things you are going to be doing, the thing you’re doing just because you yourself want to do them.
Different people will react to this in different ways.
Some of the people you share your list with will say, “Great. I’m glad you’re finally putting yourself first because you deserve it”. Others will try and hold you back. If (God forbid) you’re in a bad relationship, your significant other may fight to prevent you from doing what you want to do, because they believe you’re there to serve them.
Well, fudge that.
You are here to serve yourself. You are here to put yourself first. So if anyone tells you that you shouldn’t be doing what you want to do, tell them to go and fudge themselves.
Ha! Don’t actually tell them to fudge themselves. But do rationally explain to them why you’re doing the things you want to do, and do tell them that from now on, they can expect to see a new you, a you that puts yourself first.
And that is how you can put yourself first today.
Now over to you.
What ways are you putting yourself first? Have you been having fun putting yourself first? How do you feel after putting yourself first? Leave a comment.