How To…Put Yourself First

            Far too many times in this world selfless people end up putting everyone else’s needs before their own. This used to be me, until I realized that putting myself and my needs first wasn’t selfish but it’s in fact self care. Giving to others, while felt natural, it left me burnt out with my basic needs being neglected on a regular basis. I would give someone else money while I’m struggling financially, spend my time helping others but feeling like a burden asking for help, and I would give until I was left feeling frustrated. Now, I’ve learned how to put myself first and still have the time, availability, and energy to be the naturally giving person I am. And I want the same for you…so here’s how:

1. Understand that self-care is necessary

            Regardless of your role in their life, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be here to help others. Stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed can lead to physical ailments if not properly managed over time. Respect your mind, body, and soul and make sure your self-care is a priority. Ensure that you’re making time in your day to spend some time alone, no distractions, no phone, and no TV just allowing yourself to get in tune with yourself. Take time to soak in the bath tub, get professional massages, get your nails and hair done, exercise regularly, do whatever it is that you enjoy! We’ll make time and find money for everyone else, why don’t you deserve that same treatment?

2. Set your priorities

            One thing that will constantly throw you off is your priorities being out of line or non-existent. Once you have your priorities set, when you’re requested to do or give something evaluate whether that is aligned with your priorities you’ve set for yourself. Having goals to focus your time and energy on will fill your time and require to make decisions on what you can and cannot do. Understand this clearly, if you don’t put parameters on your energy people will take whatever you have to give. Pre-determine what you are or are not willing to do and be willing to stick to that, and more importantly be honest with those around you.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no

            No is such a powerful word! Too many times we shy away from this word because we’re afraid of the consequences or aftermath. The more I’ve begun to use this word, the more I’ve realized that this is the most freeing word available in the human language. Saying “no” allows me to say “yes” to things that are aligned with my purpose, including make time for self-care. Also, when I do say “yes” it’s a genuine agreement not one made simply out of obligation.

4. Time is non-refundable

            Time is the one currency that you can never regain. Time spent focused on everyone else’s needs and priorities will leave little to no time for yours. And when you decide to focus on your goals, you will end up feeling burned out because the energy and time was spent on everyone else. Often times we end up forgetting to care for ourselves or never get around to accomplishing what we want for ourselves. There are 24 hours in every day, even if you spend 1 hours a day focused on yourself that’s only 4% of your day.

5. You can’t pour from an empty cup

            This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way! I would give and give to any and everyone around me with the expectation that they would do the same. Well unfortunately that’s just not the way the world works. I would end up at 0% and get frustrated with someone giving me 5%, as opposed to now when I ensure my needs are met I’m operating at 100% and that additional 5% if someone gives is extra. Additionally, when I ensure my needs are met it leaves plenty of time to give to those around me and everyone ends up taken care of.

* Bonus *

            Self-care is evidence of self-love. If you’re willing to care for those you love, why wouldn’t that list of priorities include yourself? The next time you tell yourself that it’s selfish to worry about your needs, keep in mind that you have to be well enough to care for others. Don’t kill yourself giving to others so much that you are incapable of doing so moving forward. You want to be around for several decades to come, in order to do that you have to take care of yourself. If you don’t care for yourself…who is going to?