For many of us, life is all about being with the ones you love. Sharing your happiness and sorrows with them while looking out for them. But in this regard, we often tend to forget something equally (if not more) important. Putting yourself first is what many of us neglect in the quest of caring for or looking out for others. Whenever the urge arises for doing something solely for oneself, it can become paired with guilt. Somewhere in the back of our mind we constantly think that it might seem ‘selfish’. If you think it through, can you really pour water from an empty jug? This is the reason why it is important to put yourself first without feeling guilty about it. You become better equipped to those that you love and serve if you are well yourself.
”Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball
Prioritising yourself is far from being selfish. You need to realise that self-care is just as important as caring for anybody else. Sometimes you must attain the best form of yourself to be able to give out the best. To be capable of looking out for others you may need to look out for yourself. If not, you may be less equipped for the ones you give out to. Moreover, life benefits from balance. Being considerate and kind to others is made much more effective if you look after yourself. Reaching this equilibrium should not be a choice but a necessity. Ask yourself this, how can you help anyone else if you cannot help yourself? Thus, you may need to cater to your needs first.
The guilt of putting yourself before others is partly due to societal pressures. At times, people push us to believe that we only exist to give. However, it is far from true. Always putting yourself first must not be portrayed as an act of guilt but as mindfulness. This article walks you through some of the benefits of putting yourself first and the ways to do so without feeling guilty about it. Keep on reading to discover the ultimate beauty of being there for yourself.
1. Works best for your mental health
One of the many benefits of putting yourself first is mental peace. Mental peace is when you are satisfied with yourself and life in general. And true mental peace is more easily achieved when one is happy and content from within. Scientific research supports the point that when we prioritise our needs and be kind to ourselves we attain a greater degree of contentment. This results in compassion and gratitude towards ourselves, giving birth to a more positive mindset. Similarly, this positivity becomes the fuel for your well-being and boosts mental health.
Moreover, it encourages you to be there for others too. Thus, putting yourself first should never result in guilt as it is a basic requirement. When you are considerate of your own physical, psychological and emotional needs then you become more able to invest your time and energy adequately in yourself. This does not necessarily mean putting your needs before others necessarily but putting them at the same level. You are just as important as others and understanding this is useful for your frame of mind.
2. Helps you expect less from others
When you develop the habit to prioritise yourself it pays off one way or another. Unrealistic expectations can hurt and that is why it is important to edit or lose them. You can not expect people to always be there for you just because you are there for them. Everybody has different priorities in life and one can not always demand everything. Even if you feel like it is selfish to cater to yourself first before tending to the needs of others, it is okay. At times, you have to do what is necessary for what really matters for your own well-being.
All you need to do is understand that putting yourself first will very rarely be in vain. Not only will you realise your worth but also identify where and how should you infuse your presence. Let’s face it, not everybody will be willing to do for you what you would do for them. Thus, it also makes us realise that people-pleasing is not always the way to success. In light of this, a study conducted in 2000 constructed that fixating on pleasing others results in depression and dissatisfied interpersonal relationships. Devising another reason why you should not feel guilty about putting yourself before others.
3. Maintains balance & focus
Along with all the other benefits putting yourself first has, it helps you maintain a balance. The impartiality between yourself and others. The feeling of contentment is innate within humans and is achieved when our needs are catered to. When you become present for yourself you develop the ability to be there for others more effectively. This way it benefits both parties without negligence. Moreover, this also provides focus and helps you set your priorities straight. This balance and focus also work toward mindfulness which has endless benefits to itself. You will observe improvement in both your physical and mental health. Resulting in greater well-being and reduced levels of stress.
4. Invest in yourself
There are various ways you can practise putting yourself first without feeling guilty about it. Investing in yourself tops the chart. Investment can take any shape. Be it taking out time for yourself every day out of your busy schedule. Getting a hobby or simply relaxing at home doing what you enjoy the most. This will motivate you not only to take care of yourself but others. Investing your time and energy in yourself sets the stage for you to be the best version of yourself.
It instantly puts you in an improvised mood. Moreover, it encourages you to be positive and gentle to yourself which allows you to reciprocate it to others. Self-investment be it big or small goes a long way. The guilt factor would automatically diminish when you recognise the benefits you get. You will not only be able to be kind to yourself but also give the best of you to others.
5. Learn how to say no
Life can not always be pleasant. It comes with its own obstacles and responsibilities. It can be increasingly overwhelming to deal with everything at once due to which it is important to learn when to say no. In our urge to make everybody happy we often forget to put ourselves first. Saying no when you do not feel happy about something is not wrong, however, it is your right. You are the only one who can control you. It is your authority to take the virtuous decisions that would be beneficial for your well-being. Moreover, when you learn to say no to prioritise your peace and happiness it makes people respect you. A person who can be wise to oneself is likely to find it easier to be wise to others.
6. Set healthy boundaries
Setting boundaries is essential to living fully. If you don’t do so, people will build a habit to take advantage of you. When someone starts to ask too much of you is when you should sense trouble. Putting a thin line between you and your colleagues, friends, and even family is necessary. You can never be present at all times. People in your life need to know that you need time for yourself. This also lets them know that your needs are just as salient as theirs. Moreover, this practise will also help you not be taken advantage of. Explaining the true meaning and importance of boundaries to yourself and others around you is a need. To help you avoid burnout while protecting your personal space from any sort of invasion.
7. Prioritise diet and rest
Nourishment for your body is essential to function effectively. When talking about priorities your health must always come first. Your body deserves the best, so fuel yourself with nutritious foods. Create a balanced diet including fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, try avoiding intaking sugary and saturated fat foods. Sticking to a healthy diet is a great way to put yourself first as health is the biggest of blessings. Secondly, rest is equally important too. Giving yourself enough time to unwind and prepare for the next day is extremely important. Even to be there for others, it is crucial to be fully rested. Only then will your mind and body will allow you to be effectually functional. A good night’s sleep works like a charm. Try not to compromise on your daily rest and see how it does wonders for you.
8. Indulge in fun activities
Balance is what we strive for. Constantly working can take a toll on your physical health. It can also disturb your state of mind. Engaging in fun activities every day for a little while helps you stay sane. This allows you to relax and do something solely for yourself. Take up a hobby such as reading, cooking, or playing your favourite sport. Even watching Netflix can suffice as something fun. Thus, it is important to do things that bring you joy along with work. Not only do they push you to perform better but also help you blow off steam. Having fun with your friends and family can result in reduced stress.
9. Ask for help in times of need
If you feel guilty about putting yourself first often, then you should not hesitate much while asking for help. As human beings, we are designed to coexist. It is totally alright to seek assistance when you feel like it. It is important to realise you can not manage everything on your own and there will be times when you feel like giving up. That is what friends and family are for. When we present ourselves selflessly to be there for others it is okay to ask when you are in need of it. To have a helping hand once in a while is pretty normal. However, be direct and ask the person face-to-face about how they can help. This would increase the chances of affirmation.
Recreate your perspective about what putting yourself first means. Now that you know how to prioritise yourself while not feeling guilty it is time you take action. Ponder over your life for a brief moment and see where you stand. Think about the questions that come to your mind and how can you effectively work towards progress. You can have whatever approach you like when it comes to putting yourself first. Be it by setting strict boundaries or investing in yourself as often as you can. Remember, you can not control what other people think of you so you better focus on what really matters. The most important thing to know is that it is not being selfish. Howbeit, it is the first step you need to take to pave the road to selflessness.
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