There’s often a bad stigma that is attached with putting yourself first. You feel guilty and worry about what others think.
But at the same time you know the benefits that come from taking care of yourself first. After all, how are you going to give to others if your cup is not full?
In order to function in life, there needs to be a balance of give and take.
So you imagine what your life will be like if you can start to say no to people and turn the attention to fulfilling your needs first. You’ll feel less stressed, more energy, happier, doing the things you want.
But there is something holding you back. You are afraid of disappointing others and making others angry.
The reality is you can’t make everyone happy all the time. And people can’t expect you to make them happy all the time. That’s a tall order for anyone to take. It’s unrealistic.
The best way to happiness is to nourish your soul and take care of yourself in a healthy selfish way so that you are able to show up selflessly to help others. We need both in order to thrive in life.
So yes some people may start to dislike you, but I can guarantee not everyone will stop liking you.
The ones who truly care for you and your happiness will understand and get use to the changes you are making in your life. In the end, they’ll appreciate and benefit from you putting your oxygen mask on yourself first because you’ll show up in their life more present and more full.
It’s a good deal isn’t it?
So to help you kick the habit of shouldering obligations and shoulding yourself to take care of others first, here are 5 ways to get started.
1. Change Your Language
Switch the word ‘should’ to I would like to or I could, because should limits your choices and autonomy which gives off a sense of needless self-inflicted stress. Whereas the other two phrases implies positive action. It creates the sense that you made the decision to do something and transforms the experience of what you’ll be doing into something that brings fulfillment to you and others.
So if you’ve been asked to do something or feel like you ‘should’ do something, ask yourself, is it something I want to do? Does it allow me to spend time with people that matter and gives me a sense of joy and purpose?
If the answer is no, this leads me to the next point.
2. Say “No!”
Be mindful of what you allow into your space.
Say no to:
-things that are not important to you
-things that you don’t like doing
-people and activities that drain you and gives off a negative energy
Depending on circumstances, there may be times where it may not be so easy to say no, i.e. in a work situation. So find ways to negotiate and find a happy medium to compromise with others so that you also get what you need to carry out doing something.
3. Schedule ‘me’ time in your calendar
Block off and make time for yourself to take a break and do what you need to do to get grounded, relax and rejuvenate yourself. Like a car, you can’t run on an empty tank.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You may have been raised to hide your flaws and imperfections growing up and not burden others. But there is no shame to ask for assistance. It’s impossible to try and do everything ourselves. We all can use a little help along the way from time to time, especially if someone can do it faster or has the knowledge and capabilities to help out. This will help save you time and energy so that you have more to give to others.
5. Get to know yourself
This includes listening to yourself, exploring and finding your own rhythm of life.
You know the feeling you get when something isn’t right or something is off?
That’s a sign for you to pause, follow your nudges, feel what it is you are feeling and listen to what your body and mind needs. What is it trying to tell you?
It may be your body telling you to take it easy. Or to say no to an opportunity because it just doesn’t feel right. When in doubt, it’s the universe telling you to pause and think about it. As Oprah said,
‘When you don’t know what to do, do nothing until you know what to do. Your doubt is your instinct trying to tell you something is off.’ – Oprah
Explore it further. There’s no need to say yes right away. If it’s meant to be yours, it will be yours.
So follow your own rhythm. Focus on when you need to restore and recharge and craft out the time to unwind and reflect. This may be late in the evening, or early in the morning every day. Or perhaps you don’t need to do it every day. Do what is right for you.
The important thing is to give yourself permission to nourish your body and mind and make yourself a priority. No matter how small the step is, take action, one step at a time.
What will you do today to empower yourself and get started?